Pastor's Blog: Flattening the Curve

 |  Pastor's Blog  |  Dr. Doug Dortch

It’s been years since I was stuck in a Statistics class in college, where I struggled to wrap my mind around modes and medians and standard deviations. I eventually got the hang of each of those statistical realities. But the one that made the most sense to me immediately was the concept of the “Bell Curve.” Simply put, a curve of that kind represents a normal distribution of variables that distinguishes between the best and worst, with the largest percentage of variables being occupied by the average. For those of you who remember begging your college professor to “grade on the curve” yet had no idea what you were talking about (other than not to grade you by the percentage of correct answers), if the professor was agreeable, that’s how she or he made those determinations. 

This week I saw a simulation of what a given population could expect if no measures were taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. And guess what the simulation of the virus showed? It showed a remarkably perfect bell curve with a huge hump in the middle, representing the percentage of persons who would become infected before the virus ran its course. Of course, not all of that population would recover from their infection. We see those mortality statistics even now in places like China, South Korea, and Italy. It’s a frightening picture.

However, another simulation took into consideration mitigation efforts that  represented a much smoother curve, one that represented much less infections and even lesser fatalities. It was a much more encouraging picture. That explains why we hear daily briefings on what public health officials need the general population to do in order to “flatten the curve” and contribute positively to the public well-being. 

By now you are aware of the steps we have taken to join such an effort. For example, last Sunday we went to a livestream of our Sunday worship. We’re now making plans to do the same for both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, plans you’ll hear more about as we draw nearer to Holy Week. And while we closed the church offices this week for the rest of the month in response to President Trump’s request, we will continue to look for creative ways to make sure that our church’s ministry carries on. 

You too can contribute to this effort also in several ways. First, you can pray for our community, country, and world that God might do something only God can do in order to end this virus, all the while drawing near to those harmed by its effects – physically, economically, socially, and even spiritually. Secondly, you can support our church’s efforts at maintaining the worship life of our congregation by joining with us on the livestream ( and by encouraging others to do so as well. Thirdly, you can stay in touch with those in your relational orbit who otherwise might give in to the loneliness, anxiety, and fear this virus has created – an infection that will more likely affect more of us than the actual disease! Pay particular attention to those who may need some assistance with groceries or medications. We have a host of persons who are ready to respond to those needs. Let us know and we will make those connections. Lastly, you can contribute online ( or through what you mail to the church so that we can manage our ministry plan at a time when folk aren’t able to be present to give their offerings.   

In a day when we are weary of hearing what will not take place, I’m guessing people will be attentive to what is going on and how they can join in. While I would be the very last person to say that this present crisis is a result of divine judgment, I will be the first to say that we as the body of Christ have the chance to bear witness in both words and deeds to how God is present and at work in this extremely challenging season. 

From what even a Bell Curve simulation assures us, this crisis will eventually pass. But in between now and then, we are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow hard after Jesus, in ways that in the power of His grace might indeed flatten all curves. After all, our good news is that God doesn’t grade us on the curve; God grades us on the cross. Now is our time of testing. Let’s do in His power what He might find exceptional. 

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now, it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19).