Like many, in this time of ‘social distancing,’ my heart longs for connection. It isn’t really a new longing. Feeling like a mis-fit is common for me. But COVID-19 has given me a new appreciation for connectedness. It’s truly helped me understand the beauty of Church in a much deeper way.
‘The church is not empty, it is deployed’ sentiments abounding on social media are nice but incomplete.
COVID-19 did not deploy the church.
The Church has been on mission since its inception. It is sometimes misunderstood – and even misused – as a social gathering, a source of comfort, or a place to express oneself or recharge after a rough week. But that’s not the Church of the Bible.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
The Church is NOT the building – that is truth. The Church is the living stones of people being built TOGETHER as a habitation for the Spirit of God.
BUT I am not the Church.
You are not the Church.
Only together does the Church exist: WE are the Church. The Church is to function in unity, not just in isolation.
My prayer is that COVID-19 will redefine the church—a definition that encompasses personal responsibility and corporate unity. Such was the cry of Jesus’ heart in John 17. In fact, He said, the world will know Him by unified loving of one another.
The Church is deployed by coming together and going into the world.
Yet in all of the positives that are coming out as responses to COVID-19, a hidden danger rises up to menace me: when social isolation passes, will people prefer an easier, individualistic idea of church? Will church become something to do on your own, in your own way, at your own time? The actions of individuals must never be mistaken as a complete definition of Church. It has a much higher, holier purpose.
The functions of Church – evangelism, education, worship, social connection – are to be the daily activities of individuals…whether there is a pandemic happening or not.
- Christians SHOULD share the verses that encourage them to hold fast to Christ.
- Christians SHOULD share the Gospel.
- Christians SHOULD worship in song.
- Christians SHOULD be Jesus to everyone they encounter.
It is wonderful that COVID-19 is inspiring more individuals to accept personal responsibility! But let’s not think that such actions replace ‘the Church.’ The Church, praise God, is much more than SHOULDS and DOINGS.
Church is both the gathering of those called by Christ’s name
…AND the sending out of those called by Christ’s name.
The Church is corporate unity in heart and action, AND it is individual expression of the shared passion. The Church must gather together with all the challenges and sacrifices that unity requires – and not be content with individualized action alone. Our identity is as the body of Christ. Checking on the elderly folks you know is a good thing to do…but gathering together with other believers is being the Church too.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
“Social Distancing” has brought my heart a clearer understanding of the beauty of corporate ‘Church.’ I celebrate the creative ways many are gathering to support each other: Zoom Prayer Meetings, car convoys to declare love, neighborhood projects. The Network offers some more fantastic suggestions. Coordinated, corporate activities have a beauty and a benefit far beyond the ‘activity.’
What COVID-19 response from your Church has blessed you the most?
Have you launched a creative way of ‘gathering together in the midst of isolation that others might try?