As I begin to write this, the opportunity to gather together as church in our buildings on Sunday mornings is still not an option. Over the past couple of months we have seen the best of humanity and unfortunately we have also seen the worst of it. With our attention taken off our regular routine and as we probably spend more time online, we are seeing history unfold before our very eyes. It’s a scary time. I think that’s okay though. I’m probably a lot more anxious than I have been in the past, fear moves ever closer to my soul and I am regularly forgetting joy that I have. If you know me, I am very much a people person, I enjoy the company of others, I feed off that energy to give me energy and excitement.
The fulfilment of this for me is when I am privileged enough to gather with other Christians to worship. I miss my Sunday mornings; I miss my Sunday evenings. I am completely sick of doing church online. I long for so much more than what is being given. There’s not really anything I can do about it. I fully support the governments instructions and only when it is safe to do so to return to gathered church. Worship gives me the opportunity to remind myself of who God is and what he is doing now here in Dublin, in Ireland…in the world. It’s an aligning of my will to God’s. I submit to him and follow his way and re-orientate my day, my week, and my life around my worship of him (I fail regularly at this though!). Doing this with people helps me. Being different, but gathered as one, different levels of singing ability but singing as one, different ideas about God but united in who our focus is on.
Although we are together but apart in this season, I am so excited by what the future holds for the church. I’ve read countless articles of more and more turning to God during this season. Imagine what the living church can be like as a witness to Christ in the future. I read some churches are going to gather in small groups – good! Small is beautiful. How many were in the upper room at Pentecost? With the Spirit’s leading look what happened. Are we on the verge of another Pentecost type experience? The mission isn’t hindered by our small numbers but gives us strength in it. What if we started to think of the Sunday morning service as a pitstop before we go off again into the world? You sing songs, hear the Word preached, encouraged by other believers, and prayed for to be sent out.
I think we have all been guilty of living for Sunday just to get through the week. Our Sundays should be orientating our lives to live for God throughout the week not just for the rest of Sunday and by Monday morning we already living for the Sunday service again.
This ‘model’ of church isn’t healthy! It isn’t sustainable. The church is in the business of building and equipping, not drip feeding. If anything, this season for the church has given leaders all over the world the time and space to consider what church will be moving forward. And that’s what we should be doing, we should be moving forward, not going back to the status quo of Sunday services as our solitary act of Christian service. There is a mission field right outside our doors. Our leaders need to equip and inspire their congregations to get involved in that. We need the Spirit to guide us as we take each step and I’m not ignorant, it will look different from community to community but moving forward, running the race, stepping out in faith. This is what the church needs.
One day we will gather together again, our gathering together is going to be special, I actually can’t wait, but it will all be for nothing if we aren’t actively engaging with what God wants us to do in the world. Our singing will be special, sing hard, sing loud to our King on the throne. And I pray your worship will not be confined to the church building, rather you enter your place of worship when you leave. Your week is your mission ground, the ground is there to be worked on. As you have been loved – love, as you have been blessed – bless, and as you have been called – go! Some ideas will work and some ideas won’t, but as I was once told and many before me too, you have permission to fail.