This has certainly been quite a time to have taken over as the CEO at the Evangelical Alliance. Our society is experiencing things we never thought we would face and yet much is changing that directly impacts on how we minister, share the gospel and be the church at this time.

Firstly, there is a clear change in spiritual temperature of our country. The coronavirus pandemic is the ultimate bittersweet moment. The amount of people suffering, struggling and dying is absolutely tragic, and this is making this season so challenging. At the same time this crisis is presenting us with the greatest evangelistic moment of my lifetime. It’s like we are living in wartime, although we are sat on the sofa. People’s openness to the gospel is profound because they are living in the light of their own fragility. Mortality salience is not normally all that prevalent in the UK but right now it is front and centre of people’s own consciousness.

People are looking for hope. Google has seen a huge spike in people searching for prayer and Jesus during the UK’s lockdown. A piece of research from our member organisation Tearfund, published on The Guardian’s website, revealed that 25 per cent of the UK population has accessed a religious service during lockdown. That is remarkable and just about a five-fold increase on normal church attendance in person. The spiritual temperature of our country is rising, and this is an incredible opportunity for the gospel.

Secondly, there is a change in style for us all. The substance of what we are has not changed, but the style is so new. We thought for so long that we couldn’t do online church, then one Sunday morning not long afterwards it appeared that the UK church broke Zoom as we all used it at the same time. As well as online services, churches are like never before providing so much for their communities through foodbanks and compassion ministries as well as community connections. People are looking at what we do and joining our services. As many preach into iPhones I’m reminded of some advice I was once given: preach each sermon as if your 13-year-old son is sat at the back and giving Christianity one last go. We all need to go for it in this season.

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Thirdly, there’s a change in cultural narrative. When I started leading the Evangelical Alliance in October I was asked on a daily basis what my view was on this or that moral issue. The culture seemed to want to catch me out and caricature me as hateful or prejudiced. However, in lockdown these questions have stopped. No longer are we asked what we think about moral issues but instead what we as the church can do to help the country recover and survive in this season. It feels like the walls are down. Let’s not let them be rebuilt. Cultures are defined by the stories they tell. Let’s keep ours hopeful.

In response to these changes in spiritual temperature, our style of doing things and the cultural narrative, I believe that we, as evangelicals, are to grow our prophetic imaginations as to what’s possible. Let’s take this moment to extend our view of what God can do. I wonder if at times we’ve made Him small or safe enough to suit us and not disturb what we have going on?

We are living in an incredible moment and the same God of the early church and recent revivals in places like China and Iran is here with us in the UK. With Him nothing is impossible, and we need to begin to expect greater things. This is a really hard time, but it is also an amazing opportunity. We won’t get to live this moment again. As lockdown eases further in the weeks and months ahead so will somewhat of the opportunities available to us. I have been blown away by the church and its response in this season. May it continue to have a great impact. Ultimately, my dream is to hear in testimonies all over the UK in the years ahead this simple statement: I surrendered my life to Jesus during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Let’s take this moment to extend our view of what God can do.