I Don’t Know If I Want To Go Back: My Hope for the Future of the Church

I realize that I am probably the eighteen millionth person on the planet to offer some commentary on the condition of our society in the times of COVID-19 awareness. The spectrum of thought spans social, theological, scientific, and political areas. More people are demonstrating their capacity to address information with and without nuance. Many people have made up in their mind that the moment they are able to get back to connecting with people that they will never take the moment for granted ever again.

Let me begin by saying that I pray that this sentiment is real with the majority of people. I recognize more than ever the challenge of not seeing people that you love and embrace is very difficult. I acknowledge that being in an atmosphere of people that share common bonds and thought provides safety and security to be yourself. However, I am still skeptical of what people might do after weeks of serious isolation. More importantly, I am really thinking about how the composition of the church will be radically changed forever.  

I recently looked at the message I preached Resurrection Sunday last year. I was caught off guard listening to the end of the message. I talked about how the soldiers at Jesus’ tomb had first hand knowledge of the resurrection. However, their opportunity to tell the truth was bought with a price from the government. The final point of the sermon was to remind people not to sell out the Gospel. The challenge to the people was to make certain to spread the Good News by any means. Do not limit your engagement to the church house only. That statement was made one year ago.

One year ago, we did not have a pandemic. One year ago, we were able to see anyone at anytime in any place. One year, twelve months, 365 days ago, life was extremely different. Now, we are under stay at home orders. Today, we must have six feet between strangers and loved ones. Right now, people can not see loved ones in deteriorating conditions. No one is out actively chasing the bag at 2 or 3 jobs. People have no choice 

but to function primary from home. According to many people, the church is closed. 

Hmmmm….the church is closed….maybe……

The overly commercialized church is now closed. The institution that fights over majority group think is on figurative life support. The pursuit of the largest congregation in town has been placed on hold. Now, the church of the Living God can collectively return to its roots. Acts 2:42-47 reminds us of the beginning of the structure of the church. 

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The key to the growth and development of the universal church began with the understanding of community. The teachings of the Gospel were definitely the center and heartbeat of the movement. The fellowship was the vehicle that caused the Gospel to have impact, power, and advancement. The moment we began to walk away from the “people business”, we forgot what made the difference. 

Consider for a moment how people began to move away from the necessity of engaging one another. Think about the clique nature that may have taken place in some congregations. Think about how you and I talked about doing certain things for outreach or improving the neighborhood. Think about how many times we have had arguments and disagreements over ministry methods in the name of maintain the status quo. 

Seems a little more frivolous now doesn’t it?

Believe me when I tell you that I am ready for the shout of life. I promise you! I am not going to mind that we are going to have a Hallelujah good time. I bet not hear anyone talk about service was too long. Yet, I want you to know that I can not go back to a church life devoid of the people business. I can not trade a good whoop for a lack of discussion about the poor and the maligned. I will trade in a shouting Sunday morning for a service to the community on a Sunday.

We can never go back to a season of taking anything for granted. Don’t take your pastor for granted. Pray for real. Don’t take your people for granted. Recognize the gifts that they are and pray for them. Don’t take ministry for granted. Service has many layers. Don’t take the Gospel for granted. Know it and tell it. Otherwise, our time away has been in vain.