This pandemic has changed the Church. In a short space of time, we have rewritten the rules of the modern church. The vital part of the Church, the true meaning of the word became the focus when the actual doors of the church were shut. Since then, we have seen the shift of our church services to online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. We have embraced the new invite to services through links in a WhatsApp message or an email flyer. We have seen our claps turn to emojis and our praises shouted in capitals on a chat. We have seen the Church adapt. Now that we are no longer required to leave our house to attend service, (can we remain connected to Church or are we still connected to the Church)?
Embracing the ‘New Normal’
At this critical moment, we, believers in Jesus Christ, must reflect on why we attend church in the first place. We must go back to what church was at the very beginning of Christianity if we are to have a chance at staying connected amidst this pandemic.
It is understandable that attending church online may have not been the first choice for many of us, however, this pandemic has forced a lot of things upon us that we had not expected. Jesus said we would experience trials (John 16:33) but I know none of us expected this. Nonetheless, when the pandemic hit, the first lockdown was enforced and the church doors closed for the first time, we had to find an alternative way to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Technological innovation has merely improved the way we worship and allowed the Gospel to be more accessible globally. We can now invite multiple people to church than ever before. It is as simple as sending a link to a YouTube page or website. Also, we now have the chance to truly come as we are. No dressing up to impress others at church. People have arrived in their pyjamas, eating breakfast or still in bed- however, reverence towards God, in these moments, must be exercised. We can ‘attend’ church from home any day of the week.
Have we lost the formality of Church?
The Church was never meant to be formal. Formality was what the Pharisees were about, not Jesus nor Christianity. The church was a place to fellowship with other believers and it often happened in a house, not a state-of-the-art auditorium. The western world has glamorised the church, to the point that unbeliever’s question if they are good enough for God. Good enough to attend church because they are not ‘good’ or they do not fit a mould that has been formed by imperfect humans.
Everyone is welcome to the Church.
Church with a capital ‘C’ refers to the body of Christ, whilst church with a small ‘c’ is the physical reference of the building. We have seen that we do not need a church to be the Church. We are the Church, the body of Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it1 Corinthians 12:12, 27
The Church needs you
Anyone, through salvation, can be a part of the body of Christ and in the body, each member is essential. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26). There is an importance to fellowshipping together in the body. It is great to tune into the live service on a Sunday, but we need to engage further. Together, with the foundation of Christ, we can continue the community built out of Acts 2:42, which says:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…. and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.
We understand the restrictions do not permit the physical gathering, but virtual gatherings are accepted, even welcomed. Therefore, whether in person or online, let us continue to worship God through our love and fellowship with each other. The body of Christ, the Church, needs to be together. “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Especially now that we are back in lockdown.
With this new lockdown, it is also important for us to remain connected to the head of the body, Jesus (Colossians. 1:18). We must remain in Him if we are to bear the fruits that will help us to better serve our brothers and sisters during this time. Jesus never neglected such fellowship and there is a lot of encouragement in scripture for us to continue in the same manner. An example on how from 1 Peter 3:8:
- Show empathy – We do not know the burdens of another. (Galatians 6:2)
- Love one another – Just as Jesus has commanded (John 15:12)
- Be compassionate – The same compassion God has for us (Ephesians 4:32)
- Be humble – Let’s think of others above ourselves with a selfless attitude (Philippians 2:3)
Then when we physically gather once again, we will be more connected as the body through our love for Jesus and each other. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thess. 5:11).
When it’s time to go back to Church
The last 7 months have not been easy. When the doors of churches finally open again, let us pray that we do not forget the lessons we have learnt in this pandemic. The importance of fellowship, in fact, the simplicity of it. We do not need the stage, the worship team to have all the instruments or to be seated in a large auditorium with flashing lights and an amazing sound system. We simply need to have hearts that want to worship Jesus with fellow believers. Also, to be welcoming to anyone who may find their way into the congregation that day.
Jesus made it that it would not matter where we worship but that we worshipped. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
We are no longer bound by worship only in a temple. We are the Temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We can worship God anywhere, at anytime. The closing of the church buildings has not stopped us worshipping God. It cannot and should not. Let’s stay connected.