Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return.  Its three-astronaut crew—Frank BormanJames Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to fly to the Moon, to witness and photograph an Earthrise, and to escape the gravity of a celestial body.  Re-entry is the final phase for the Apollo spacecraft and re-entry can be fraught with extra-ordinary challenges, like in Apollo 13.  I highly recommend the film “Apollo 13” if you haven’t seen it!

The internet is bursting with ideas to help businesses, schools and churches re-enter following the Shelter at Home phase we face with Covid-19.

As I’ve been interacting with church planters, pastors, denominational and mission executives – I’ve listened to real concerns, thoughts about the challenges of social distancing and future steps to reopening.  One leader I coach (who has given me permission to cite his letters to his constituents) has offered wise counsel on several Reopening related topics.  Neil Lebhar has served as the Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) since his consecration in 2010.  We have been in a coaching relationship since July 2014.

Recently Neil led a devotion with his Executive Committee and one of the leaders shared this insight from Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh.

“Everyone wants to know when this will end. That’s not the right question. The right question is:

How do we continue?”

Neil used the motif of Apollo 13 and showed the clip of the control room when things didn’t go according to plan.  One of the first things the NASA team did was assess the situation.  They asked, “What do we have on the spacecraft that’s good?”  From that initial understanding of the materials on board, the crew worked with the engineers and essentially “duct-taped” a safe re-entry.  Referencing Philippians 3:8-16 Neil assessed the losses, gains and future aspirations for followers of Jesus.

We know Jesus – the most valuable treasure in the world, regardless of losses

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Knowing Jesus includes both experiencing his resurrection power and suffering

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Neil closed with this excerpt from the book “Victorious: Corrie Ten Boom and the Hiding Place”

Point people to Jesus - Betsie Ten Boom to her sister Corrie

“Corrie, never tell people that it was your faith, for people will say, ‘I haven’t got Corrie ten Boom’s faith.’ But when you tell people that it was Jesus, then they will know that the same Jesus who carried us through is willing to carry them through also. For Jesus died at the cross for the sins of the whole world, not only for us, but for all the Jews and the Gentiles of the world, and He says, ‘Come unto Me, all who are heavy laden.’ So we have a message for the whole world.”

5 Reflection Questions as you Consider Re-entry

  1. What indicators are you assessing for your congregation to re-open?
  2. How are you maintaining an unanxious presence in this VUCA (Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous) moment?
  3. What is your longer-term plan for online services?
  4. If you re-open and later forced to shelter at home again; what does that look like for your congregation?
  5. How would you describe the “win” for your congregation through Covid-19?

Please share any ideas you are discovering as you navigate this season with other leaders who are going through this time along with you, so that we can learn from each other – see below.

If you are interested to read well-informed SAMPLE PLANS FOR RE-ENTRY, Canon Jessica Jones (a member of Neil’s team) compiled 4 strategies congregations are contemplating based on CDC Guidelines – CLICK HERE.


Blessings to you and your ministry during this time!

Gary Reinecke
Executive Director



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