Global U Weekly Worldview Report (04/05/2020)
In light of the quickly-changing state of the world and our nation due to COVID-19, Global U students have compiled research and opinion to draft a collective GU outlook, or worldview, of what changes will result in the areas of the economy, society, and the Church.
Will the coronavirus outbreak cause the economy to fall into a blizzard, or an ice age, spanning the months, or even years, to come? A blizzard, as defined by Lexico, is “a severe recession or slump in an economy.” A blizzard and an ice age differ only in brevity, or longevity, of repercussions suffered: the effects of an “ice age” are felt much longer. According to our research, and, in the words of an article published by The Atlantic: “A viral quarantine is impossible to model, because modeling would mean knowing how long the necessary emergency measures will last and how well the government will respond with some degree of accuracy. Still, real-time measures show a consumer-economy apocalypse.” (1) Bottom line, we are living in an unprecedented time. New data is published daily to suggest that our initial appraisal of the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak has been severely underestimated. Initially, upon examination, many of our students, and experts alike, projected that the coronavirus would cause mild to severe, though short term, economic suffering. However, as last week drew to an end, our nation saw a historical high of unemployment claims--topping 3,283,000 new filings. This number shattered Goldman Sachs’ projected figure of 2.25 million claims, which itself seemed extreme in the eyes of many experts only a week prior. (3) Additionally, the record-setting unemployment filings of last week have doubled this week, with 6.6 million new unemployment claims. (5) Unlike the Great Depression and the 2008 recession, the current economic downturn is not a direct result of a systemic issue. Though, in each occurrence, the government has offered stimulus packages in an attempt to stoke the economy. After studying the results of these government-imposed recovery efforts on the private sector in both the Great Depression and the recession of 2008, we can conclude that the process of recuperation was slowed as a result of their implication through tax cuts. (4) However, we generally agree that a stimulus package could prove beneficial at reviving the trade of goods and services if implemented promptly and in cash, rather than through tax cuts. Our outlook isn’t entirely bleak, nonetheless. We anticipate a surge in the tech industry, as there is a push to move almost all meetings and gatherings online during this time. As this online and technological infrastructure is implemented, we anticipate that it will continue to be utilized and advanced, even as people begin returning to their workplaces, schools, and churches. Additionally, with our training in computer programming and entrepreneurship, we have found hope, and even excitement for the opportunities to come, knowing that we are positioned to adapt to the rapidly changing business and economic climate with agility. Overall, the consensus is that if we learn to control the spread of the virus relatively quickly, through the resumption of regular activities, we will be able to start the economy again, and recovery will be well within sight. However, as shelter-in-place orders are prolonged and more businesses are forced to close their doors, we are, undeniably, in danger of entering a much tougher season than many anticipate.
The societal impact of COVID-19 is somewhat more speculative, yet it remains of substantial importance. Anxiety plagued the world before the outbreak began, and in the heat of it all, we have seen stress, fear, anxiety, and the feeling of isolation swell in our nation. This has been perpetuated through the media as well, though we have seen a drastic increase in positivity and support for one another through online mediums after the initial shock. The outbreak has altered the way many of us view media, and we, at Global U, have advocated for increased media presence during this time. As a result of schools and places of employment being closed, there are more people using social media now than ever before. As we see it, this is a new mission field for Christians, especially those who have been “demobilized,” to take advantage of their platforms to be an outlet for hope and life in a time of darkness. We are extremely blessed to live in an era where communication is so easy, and we believe that this time of “disconnect” will teach us to value relationships and pursue them more intentionally. The circumstances have birthed a movement to stay in touch with friends and loved ones more than ever, and our technology allows us to do so. This ease of connection is being highlighted and taken advantage of during “social-distancing,” though, people will likely continue to recognize these outlets as useful tools to keep us connected, even across distances, as the threat of the virus fades. Web communication infrastructure is being still developed and improved rapidly. Though these technologies will not be able to replace human interaction altogether, they have proved themselves to be a viable option for communication among a vastly broader audience. Though we will continue to increasingly take advantage of technology and our devices, we anticipate that people will generally come to realize the value of true face-to-face interaction, and, hopefully, no longer take fellowship for granted. Some have claimed that humanity will be completely changed. As a result of the fallen, sin-nature of man, humanity will largely remain the same. Human nature, though evolving with cultural shifts, is still human nature, and will continue to be so. Though, hopefully, this will be a time that will bring us face to the source of these anxieties, confront our complacency, and develop a passion for activism--seeing this pause as prime time to reflect on pre-existing personal and societal oppressions and prepare to face them head-on. We have hope that as we resume “normal” life, we will have gone through a healing process, drawing nearer to our true identities, and gaining a newfound zeal to not simply return to the status quo but to make the world better for it.
The Church (universal) could very well be on the precipice of a returning to form. As people are forced to meet in small groups and fellowship becomes interactive Zoom meetings among groups of believers rather than simply sitting next to each other in a congregation, the Body has a unique opportunity to become more like the model of the church exhibited in the Bible: where groups met in houses and members practiced active participation, each bringing something to the table and edifying the Body. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how this season of adaptation reforms how we view the church as Christians, and how we can further integrate these house churches and missional communities with the traditional church model, as churches serve as a catalyst for congregations to practice being the Body outside of Sunday service hours. Crisis, both in the past and now, is a force that drives people to increasingly depend on God. Already, Christians are banding together to pray and fight. At Global U, we are joining followers of Christ around the globe to pray Psalm 91 over the earth. We are uniting against disease and destruction and we believe that victory is to come. Though this pandemic is bad, there is surely exponentially more good to come. People across the world are desperately searching for hope, and we as Christians have the responsibility to share the hope that we have. Furthermore, through prayer, fasting, and the response of the global church during this time, awakening will surely come throughout the nations. Throughout history, the church has grown and witnessed people returning to Christ in hard times, and we believe that this is no exception. We believe that the Lord has placed a desire for authentic community in the hearts of many. As churches step up to create these spaces of community and intimacy through this time of hardship, when restrictions are lifted, and these groups are able to meet in person, many of these will continue to flourish. When true, intentionally Christ-centered, and relationally intimate fellowship within communities become an integral aspect of the church, the Lord will be able to utilize authentic discipleship to further His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.
The Coronavirus pandemic is sure to cause many ripple effects. The economy will likely enter a long term downturn, but, coupled with the technological advancements that are sure to result from this time, many businesses will not only recover but become more efficient and successful than ever before. Our already fast-changing society will adapt to social-distancing, and in turn, discover new passions and learn the true value of community. And the church is currently at a pivotal moment, but great opportunity lies ahead. While congregations are unable to meet together, many will overcome what is seen as an impediment, giving birth to a new movement of intentional discipleship that will bring glory to Christ in all the nations. We are expectant.
(1) Lowrey, Annie. “This Is Not a Recession. It's an Ice Age.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Apr. 2020, www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/quantifying-coming-recession/608443/.
(2) “Economic Blizzard: Definition of Economic Blizzard by Lexico.” Lexico Dictionaries | English, Lexico Dictionaries, www.lexico.com/en/definition/economic_blizzard.
(3) Matthews, Dylan. “9 Charts Showing What Coronavirus Is Doing to the Economy.” Vox, Vox, 30 Mar. 2020, www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/30/21184401/coronavirus-covid-19-economy-charts.
(4) Amadeo, Kimberly. “Stimulus Checks: 2020 Compared to 2009 and 2008.” The Balance, The Balance, 30 Mar. 2020, www.thebalance.com/stimulus-checks-3305750.
(5) Henney, Megan. “Unemployment Claims Spiked to New Record Last Week, with 6.6M Americans Filing for Aid.” Fox Business, Fox Business, 2 Apr. 2020, www.foxbusiness.com/economy/us-unemployment-claims-march-coronavirus-economy.