I’m working from home. I’ve got a card table set up in the corner of my bedroom. On it are books, my laptop, and some snacks. I’m sitting on an old (very uncomfortable) wooden chair.
This isn’t where I thought I’d be.
Two months ago, I had no idea something like COVID-19 was coming along. I was so ingrained in a routine and rhythm of the past eight years of ministry that I just couldn’t see it being any different. Yet, here I am, in my bedroom, ministering from a distance.
I miss my people. I miss singing together. I miss being together. I miss preaching to real, live people – not a phone via Facebook. I lament the loss of a lot of the aspects of the gathered church. I’m sure you do, too.
As I’m sitting here, the question is running around Christian circles is “What’s next?” Where do we go from here? I’ve attended no less than four (4) webinars this week on answering that question. That means I’ve spent over six hours listening to leaders talking through the answer to that question. My cup runneth over on information. It is good stuff, but it taxes on you after awhile.
What I’ve noticed is that the speakers on this are from giant churches. They’re great and charismatic speakers who lead thousands of people every week in giant worship centers. They have a set of challenges for sure, and I value their wisdom, but they think in models, systems, and modes that are much larger than most churches of average sizes will be able to utilize.
So, what’s next? I think for our flock at Crosspointe, this holy “pause” has created a new opportunity. I think the “What’s next” for us is to prayerfully seek out this one thing:
Who is God asking us to be now?
Who is God asking us to be now? Let’s be honest: we’re not going back to normal anytime soon. We may never get back to the way things used to be. I think as we grieve that, and as we wrestle with that, we’ll find that we’ve awoken in a new land that’s got some of the same components from the old one, but requires a lot of retooling.
Paul talks about this in Philippians. He’s just got done reminding the church to rejoice in her trials, to watch out for false teaching, and that everything but Christ is rubbish. He writes :
“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14, NIV)
We must press forward. God is calling us to care for and lead people in a whole new way, and we need to praise Him for that! This is a season to serve and it will redefine a lot of the methods we know as Church. What will change? Doctrine won’t. The Bible is the same. Our beliefs are the same. The Spirit is still the same. The Church is still the Bride of Christ.
When we seek to answer the question, “Who is God asking us to be now?”, we will find out what’s next much more quickly. If we try to jump back into the way things were pre-COVID-19, then we will find ourselves in a place that no longer exists. We’ll find ourselves in a place that rest of the world has run away from.
In the rush to answer, “Who is God asking us to be now?,” let us be thoughtful. In the rush to get back to “normal,” let us purge all the things we’ve slowly realized aren’t “normal” over the past month and a half. It’s not normal to burn out volunteers. It’s not normal to make people more busy. It’s not normal for us to view attending church as optional. It’s not normal to run the church like a business. It’s not normal to be disconnected from your church family.
So, what’s next? Let us sit an discern prayerfully who God is asking us to be now. Not who we once were, not who we want to be – who God is asking us to be in a post-pandemic world. As we slowly dip our toes back into this vast ocean that seems so alien now, let us not be naive and think we’ll be back to business as usual. Things are more digital now – but if we’ve learned something, my prayer is that it is this:
We need the gathered Church.
We need to be together. We need to sing together. We need to worship and commune with Christ together! Who God is asking us to be will always flow out of the gathered people of God. It is in the gathering that we find life, community, belonging, and purpose. It is in the assembly of God’s people in the local churches that we find who God is asking us to be for our community. That may look different for everyone – that’s okay.
Trust, however, that the witness of the gathered Church brings life and mission to our purposelessness. It brings hope and peace as we work as agents of reconciliation. It flows through the streets of our cities when the gathered people of God are confident in who they are. When we are confident of who we are and whosewe are, we will be unstoppable.
So take heart. We will get through this. God will see us through. We will emerge. It will be different. There will be a lot of change. But by God’s grace, we will prevail.
God loves you,
Catch more from Scott at his blog – https://turningovertables.wordpress.com