Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19 from a Theological Perspective

To be or not to be? A missional and practical theological perspective on being Church without walls amidst coronavirus disease 2019: A challenge or an opportunity?

Jacques W. Beukes
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a6115 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.6115 | © 2020 Jacques W. Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2020 | Published: 25 November 2020

About the author(s)

Jacques W. Beukes, Practical Theology and Mission Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread globally. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak to be a global pandemic. Millions of people have been diagnosed globally; and at the time of publishing this article, more than a million people died because of the virus. South Africa reported its first official COVID-19 case on 05 March 2020, and since then the figures dramatically increased. On 15 March 2020 and the week thereafter on 23 March 2020, South Africans were waiting in anticipation as they learned from various (social) media platforms that the President would make a crucial announcement regarding the impact of COVID-19 and the drastic effect it will have on their country. Immediately drastic and tremendous measures were announced to safeguard South Africans and to contain the spread of the virus that was impacting communities of all faiths. Does this situation of crisis and global pandemic pose a challenge or a new opportunity for the church to be church with integrity? This article explores this question by engaging with the missional and practical theological perspectives such as the church being missional, relevant and contextual. This situation both challenges and provides opportunities to revisit and redefine being church outside the traditional walls of the church as missional describes being a missionary everywhere you are. This article engages with the missional perspective that the church is called to be church everywhere as well as being church in a time of the fourth industrial revolution.

Contribution: This research challenges the traditional discourse and believers’ current understanding and praxis of being church. This research invites the church to embrace new (old forgotten) ways of being church because of a medical global pandemic (health sciences). It brings together insights from missional ecclesiology and practical theology and engages with social and human sciences.


oronavirus; COVID-19; church; being church; missional; practical theology; walls; crisis; Kairos; spiritual disciplines; missio dei; disciple making


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Crossref Citations

1. Missio hominum as the compassionate response to socio-economic and vaccine challenges during COVID-19 in South Africa
Jonas S. Thinane
HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies  vol: 77  issue: 3  year: 2021  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v77i3.6544