I was on the phone with a woman the other day. We were talking about when the church would start to gather again for public worship. Then she said something that really disturbed me, she said, “It’s a shame for the church to be closed.”
Listen, can we talk. The church has never closed, we have just stopped meeting together in a building on Sunday morning at 11:00 am. I don’t know what this person has been doing, but I’ve been busy and so have a lot of other people.
Just because I’m not worshipping next to the stained glass windows doesn’t mean I have stopped worshipping. In fact, my worship while in a pair of running shorts, a t-shirt and a ball cap turned around backwards at my grandmother’s kitchen table with the Blonde has been the best worship experience ever. Technology is a great thing. Who doesn’t want Chris Tomlin as their own personal worship leader?
Church happens where you want it to happen. The problem with the church is we think everything happens in a building. I would say my best ministry has happened outside of the four walls of a church building. I think that might be true for Jesus as well. Think about where He got His work done. Not a lot of people walking the aisle in the local synagogue where Jesus would stand up and read from a scroll.
Ministry is still happening; it’s just different. People are still connecting; it’s just online. It’s funny but a lot of people are upset about church not getting reopened fast enough, but the last Sunday we did gather together, those same people weren’t at church, and they don’t seem to be so concerned about worship attendance when there is a ball game or a family reunion on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Yikes!
I’ve always said I would be a monk and live in a monastery if they would let me bring the Blonde along. Well, this sheltering at home thing is about as close to being a monk as you can get, and it’s been a pretty good gig. There has been fruit in being a monk. My weekly phone calls to widows have allowed me to build relationships with people that I did not have a relationship with prior to the pandemic.
What I'm saying is, we can change, and we can adapt. This virus has proven that, but will we change our perspective about “church”? Did we find out we can do church without a lot of the stuff we thought was imperative in order to do church?
Today during a deacon meeting, the youth guy asked when he can get the youth together. This deacon, a retired county judge said, “Why don’t you get those kids to come to Sunday morning worship?” It got pretty quiet, pretty quick. I don’t think I said amen, but I wanted to. My point is let’s focus, let’s rethink our goals and how we achieve them, let’s not just go back, let’s get better.
I heard someone say, “Why do you want to go back to that life you were complaining about 3 months ago.” Point taken!
This may sound odd coming from a pastor, but I’m concerned about a lot of other preachers that are seemingly too anxious about getting the church back together. Their constant cry on social media is, “I miss my church family.” I get that, but my concern comes from a Twitter post I saw last night: “Reflecting on how we as pastors tend to define the church and how much our ministry can end up the center of that definition. Is this one of the reasons we are so ready to fight for the Sunday morning gathering as the most essential expression of church?” Ouch!
What if we are getting it wrong? Let me give you an example. The story of David & Goliath is not about a kid killing a giant. The story of David and Goliath is about the existence of God, the salvation of God, and the global mission of God. (1st Samuel 17:46-47).
Our church is re-gathering this Sunday, I’m excited, but like Dr. Tony Fauci I know I’m not the “end all.” I also know corporate worship is not the end all, either. I’ve been busier than ever during the lockdown, how about you? It is more about being the church versus going to church. He told me to tell you that.