It is evident we are living in a time of uncertainty that brings about fear. We are all aware of the effect Covid-19 is having on the world around us. While we all are seeking ways to keep ourselves and those around us safe, we also long for the day things will return back to normal. However, what I want to address is precisely that, how we return. In fact, if there is anything I have been seeing as a silver lining amidst the panic and chaos surrounding our currently dark situation, it is how this could potential change some things for the better.
First, let me be clear, as Christians we should not ignore the bad. We should lament the death, fear, stress, anxiety, depression, and financial devastation that has come from this pandemic. We should use this as a time to be a light in the dark world as Matthew 5:16 tells us “so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.” Church, that has always been our calling. The world is a place filled with hurt, pain, sorrow, anger, jealousy, greed, and so much more. God has called us from the beginning to live differently than the world around us. Now, in a time of global fear, the Church should be on the frontlines showing love, kindness, grace, and generosity more than ever. So please take seriously the call Jesus gives, for us to love both God and others. This is something we should always be doing; the world, your neighbors, friends, and family need it now more than ever.
Consumerism In The Church
I do believe however that Covid-19 is a chance for us to change for the better when it comes to how we view church. Something the Lord has placed on my heart over the past few years is the issue of consumerism finding its way into the local Church. We can’t deny the existence of a consumer culture in America as it is completely surrounding us. The Lord began to create a passion within me that saw the negative effects this created within Church culture. As consumers, we constantly seek to find the next best thing, we are flooded with options and the ability to pick something better. Even if you don’t buy the newest iPhone when one is released, you can still be a consumer. Once one Netflix show is beginning to get boring there are a hundred others to choose from. There is an ability for us to have everything at our fingertips, we thrive on instant gratification.
The desire for what is new quickly found its way into churches whether you intended it to or not. Church shopping is common to find the place that checks all of the right boxes. This means that suddenly Sunday morning becomes less about community and discipleship, and more about what it can do for us. Now hear me out, you should seek a solid church that proclaims the Gospel and seeks to grow together. But church shopping can have negative effects with how we view the gathering. We can come to church with the immediate mindset of “What’s in it for me?” Where Sunday is no longer about living life together, but now we come to consume content and leave somewhat filled to go about our week. Church becomes a gas station of spiritual encouragement where we come in on empty after a week of being out in the world, we fill our tank, and leave again. But I am convinced this is not what the church should be.
The Problem At Hand
Christian worship should be a lifestyle, not an event. Yet, we even struggle to view worship as something we participate in together, but instead it is something we consume. We have become mere spectators of a Sunday morning performance where if we don’t like the music, we can go somewhere else that does it better or fits our taste more correctly. We seek sermons that tell us exactly what we want to hear and not that which stretches us, which convicts, and calls us to action to be changed people. We have begun to miss the purpose of the gathering, placing so much emphasis on the event, and forgetting the importance of the community. Sunday has never been about “me and Jesus” but it is about the Bride of Christ coming together for the purpose of corporate worship, edification, and growth.
Something Is Missing
I have noticed that with Covid-19 dramatically changing how “church” happens each week it has drawn out a response from individuals that something is off. Despite the fact that the same amount, and actually in most cases, much more content is available. Instead of services, there are also videos throughout the week and even more content in an effort to disciple and care for congregants. We have more content than our little consumer hearts can handle, this should be wonderful. Yet, it doesn’t feel like it is quite enough, something is missing and people are feeling it. It is the gathering of people.
It took a global pandemic shutting down everything to make the Church realize the glorious thing it took for granted every week. The Church. We still consume the same sermons, sing the same songs, and so much more but it isn’t enough. We long for the corporate gathering. A time where we can breathe life into one another, laugh and cry together. Covid-19 has reminded us that the most important thing that happens on Sunday is not the sermon like we have become so inclined to believe. It is not the songs we sing. We still have these and we feel that it isn’t enough. Even though these are important and crucial elements, the true great thing that takes place on the Lord’s day is the gathering.
Our Call To Action
So, what do we do with this? We still can’t gather together so how is any of this helpful? My heart behind talking about this is a couple of things. One, this should be a time where we evaluate our priorities in our lives. How we live is dramatically different than it was a few months ago, things that were important then are no longer important now. Whether you consider yourself to be a Christian or not, you are in a season of life where your priorities are changing. I believe this is a time where they are able to change for the better for a lot of us. Generosity and care have become an essential way of living, which is exactly how Jesus calls us to be! We can spend more time with those close to us, spend time learning, and loving those around us. How can you utilize this time to prioritize others before yourself?
Two, when we return, don’t forget what you learned during this time. Don’t stop being generous, considerate, kind, or empathetic. Continue to love like Jesus. As for the Church goer, remember what you longed for during these times, the gathering. Don’t return how we were before, but allow this time to transform our understanding of Sunday for the better. I believe that first Sunday we gather together again will be more beautiful than any Church service we have experienced in our lifetimes. Why? Because we all are coming together with the same mindset, a longing to be together. Why should that be any different for all of the weeks following? After all, it is what is most important as the Church! Let’s be people who long to be together for every week to come.
Finally, everyone is online. This is shaping the way the church evangelizes. People are tuning into faith more because of hard times. Christian, let’s be mindful of how we interact with people during this time. May we be known as people who spread hope and love online, may we represent Christ well. Churches are becoming easier to connect with because you can watch a service with a single click. Churches are having to learn how to navigate doing ministry online, reaching people in new ways, but also not disregarding the importance of discipleship. Watching a service isn’t enough to feed the believer. We need to be seeking how to grow with one another, dig deeper, and live a transformed life. So, don’t forget to still seek to be a part of Sunday morning, even though it is different, but also don’t stop there! Seek God more and more, and strive for ways to be more like Him.
How can you love those around you more today? May we never lose sight of the purpose of the Church, to be mission minded people of God who seek to change the world around them for the better by pointing to Christ. May we be people who are becoming more like Jesus, continuously loving, caring for, forgiving, and giving to those around us. We long for the day to be together again to encourage one another of the hope we have in Jesus.