Monday Morning Musings is a hodgepodge of contemplations as I begin a new week. Check-in on Monday morning to receive a myriad of thoughts from my vapid brain.
Gaining Ground on (the effects of) COVID
Several articles have been written describing the effects of the COVID pandemic on the church. If you are interested, here are several write-ups.
- From Christianity Today (part 1)
- From Christianity Today (part 2)
- Research from a 2020 Barna Study
- From The Gospel Coalition
What do these articles and a shred of common sense tell me? First, it’s difficult for churches to gain back the ground that COVID stole from the church. Allow me to explain.
Even if a local church continued to gather for most of the last year and a half, there was still a reluctance for church members to engage one another. Pre-COVID, it was natural to shake hands, give an awkward Christian side hug, and invite friends to lunch after church. Since the beginning of COVID, every relational opportunity feels like a risk. And in a culture where everything is insured, Americans are conditioned to be risk-averse. Local churches changed specific practices to accommodate social distancing.
Here is a practical example of a relational change at Redemption Hill Church. We use to practice the Lord’s Table with a communion line where I greeted everyone in the line before they took the bread and juice. Now, everyone grabs the prepackaged elements before the church service. What was once meaningful and personal now feels distant. Will we go back to our old practice? Stay tuned. My point is that COVID took relational ground from the church in small and large ways, and it’s time for the church to gain back the ground. It’s time for the church TO NOT PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING. It’s time for the church to re-engage. Yes, there have been various opinions on masks, social distancing, vaccines, etc. These opinions have created relational tears. But no more.
But now, here is the call to all Christians. Rebuild relationships in the church. Do not allow the devil to use COVID for ongoing isolation. Receive with joy the biblical command to gather. I have buried this passage in my heart for over a year.
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
Notice that a person stirring up to love and good works happens when there is a gathering. An isolated Christian has no opportunity to stir up a brother or sister in Christ. An isolated Christian is unable to be graciously roused or encouraged by a friend. If someone finds it hard to re-engage, others in the church need to pursue the relationship.
The effects of COVID are more incredible than some realize. Its impact on some local churches is crippling. After 16 months of navigating a ship through a storm, the church finally sees a bit of daylight. But with the light also comes a sense of the damage. COVID reigned down hail, strong winds, and mounting waves. During the storm, some people fell off the ship. Now, it’s time for the church to grab the safety ring life preserver. The strong swimmers in the church need to jump into the water and swim after those who fell off the ship during the storm. It’s time to gain back the relational ground that COVID stole from the church.