The Boeing 737 MAX commenced service for commercial flights in May 2017. Approximately 450 of these planes were built, at the cost of approximately $130 million each.
Approximately a year and a half later, the 737 MAX experienced its first fatal crash (October 2018), and then another one months later (March 2019). 
The 737 MAX was quickly grounded in March of 2019, over two and a half years ago!
- For the air travel industry, that was the longest grounding of a jet airliner in United States History.
- For the Boeing Corporation, it was the worst financial, public relations, and manufacturing, and grounding-storage crisis in their corporate history.
- For marketing and sales, it was the worst bottom line disaster for the bestselling product line of all time.
- AND for 346 people, it was the end of their lives.
“The Longest Grounding Of All Time” — might be a fitting headline to describe the local church midst the COVID-19 crisis. There will be a lot remembered, written, and sorely appraised about the 2020 grounding of “Ministry & The Local Church In 2020” when all the dust clears. While the combination of effective treatments, a vaccine, and further successful research into the handling pathogens, in general, will help re-balance “living life,” I am not sure that the local church will rebound very well.
The local church has not fared very well throughout this crisis. It has revealed many of its cracks, which were not so visible heretofore. Two major cracks have come to light . . .
√ a disingenuous love and concern for God’s people, no less those outside of the church
√ a lack of perceptive and astute thinking as to how to navigate the storm. 
They are probably connected!
I have already addressed the first fracture, which is all too prevalent! — How unconnected “shepherds” have been over these months of congregational fragmentation.  I say “fragmentation” because some have felt comfortable returning to services, and others have not. Even with those who have returned, some are cautious, and others are far less so — mask versus no mask, conversing versus leaving as soon as services are over, one service but not two, etc.
Nevertheless, “pastors” seem to have the idea that if their doors are open, then it is no longer their responsibility to reach out to those who have not returned because they can now return! AND THEY SHOULD!
- Get back to “assembling yourselves together!”
- You should be in church! (But let me remind you that everyone needs to be real careful.)
- There is no longer any reason not to attend!
- It probably wasn’t as real as they say anyway 
- If you go out shopping, you can be here!
Regardless of legitimate and serious concerns — the church doors are now open!
So get back to your pew! You hear me!
This is your “pastor” speaking!
Get back to “assembling yourselves together”.
The second fracture is — a lack of perceptive and astute thinking as to how to navigate the storm — has also come to the surface. The paltry and feeble response of many ministries and local churches is deafening! The single best answer seems to be “live streaming” and/or “masked-social-distancing-brick-and-mortar-services.”
Understandably, “live-streaming” was the best answer when it seemed that “two-weeks to flatten the curve” was the plan. However, after months of realizing that the crisis was far deeper, there is still little critical, perspicuous, and creative thinking by the pastors and leadership of local churches!
“Resignation-thinking” seems to be response.
— “Oh well — not much we can do — I guess.” —
I saw “Andrew (and Winston) again this week.  As I stated, Andrew is a pastor of a local church of a far different stripe.
“I did a funeral this week. It was just me, a casket, and a 90 year old mother.”
“One of your members?
“No, just a funeral home which was looking for a minister to do the funeral.”
What do Thanksgiving and Christmas look like this year for your church?
I meet today with the church committee on that, and I have several ideas as to what we can do, which I want to share with them — brainstorm a little as to their thinking.
As we talked further — he was excited about some of the possibilities and options. There was no “resignation-thinking, ” but it was “determination-thinking.”
It was . . . .
What can we do!
I was not — What can we excuse ourselves out of
because we really don’t want to do.
That is what is so shocking. As we talk about ministry, he is focused on what can be done midst COVID during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This year — will be the longest grounding in the recent history of local church ministry and outreach. Not because nothing can be done, but because of resigned pastors and leaders who lack the drive, energy, and commitment to figure it out!
While Boeing’s agency’s administrator, Steve Dickson, said that he’d be “100 percent comfortable with my family flying on it,” not sure many local church members are going to be getting on board when the dust clears in the coming months.
Committed to the Great Commision? In word — or in deed? 
For far too many this year — Matthew 16:18 is just a “ministry-quoted-bumper-sticker.”
They are still grounded.
The impact of the grounding will far exceed 2020.
Some just don’t know it yet!
1. The first crash was in October 2017, killing 157 people in Kenya, and then another one in March 2019, killing 189 people in Indonesia.
2. In many ways, Andy Stanley made have made the best decision. To park the “737 MAX” and concentrate his energies on doing what can and needs to be done, rather than take-off down the runway week after week, not knowing how the flight will end.
3. I have asked people over and over as to whether they received even one call from their pastor since around June. I am no longer surprise with the answer. Sad!
“We then that are strong
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.”
4. Some find comfort in their admonitions by hinting that it was somewhat of a hoax or overblown conspiracy — I mean, only 250,000 people have died in America!
5. I am the President of the “Ballantrae Morning Walk Evangelism Team.” I say that in jest. I am the only member, so I am the President. Actually, there is no such official organization. It just defines one of my goals during my regular early morning walks.
I walk almost every morning, 2 – 4 miles. Outside of daily exercise, my goal is to get to know other individuals who cross my path week after week, and now for years. – Rick / Mike / Nardell / David / Dennis / et al.
One of the friendships I have developed over several years has been with a protestant minister. I met him during my morning walks a good while ago. In fact, my wife and I have taken him out to dinner. His name is Andrew, he is British, and he speaks with a distinctly British accent. His dog’s name is “Winston.” (It has a “Churchill” connection)
6. I John 3:18