It’s hard to describe the pleasure of being in the church building and sharing with others in worshipping the Living God again as we did last Sunday. It was not as it had been on March 15th when we last had a service in the church, but it was a move in the right direction.
In the last few months, I have read several articles complaining about churches being closed. But, I’m not sure I have ever felt the church is closed. Yes, certainly the buildings are closed; but the buildings aren’t the church.
Our prayer meetings, house groups, worship, bible studies, meeting together on zoom & the telephone have all continued. What do people mean when they say the church is closed? OMC hasn’t closed.
It’s true that our routines have been disturbed; we have had to find new ways of being church. Has that been such a bad thing? I don’t want to ignore the difficulties some have faced; especially those who live alone and desperately miss physical social contact. But across the country, there are reports of churches running food banks and finding other ways despite the lockdown to support the vulnerable.
There are reports of many people logging onto church websites to share in the virtual services. One report claimed that as many as a quarter of the British population were doing this. We are finding new ways of being church: we are not closed.
As we move forward we must learn the lessons of this period of lockdown and ensure we don’t slip back into doing what we have always done: in ways we have always done them. There is a more important lesson we must ensure we learn. Many people don’t want to come to a traditional service on a Sunday morning but it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. We must find ways to engage with them and share with them in ways they feel able to respond to.
Everything we are doing on the web and social media was available before this pandemic struck; we never made use of the opportunities. Why? And what other opportunities are we missing?
What has happened has made me realise that I had become a little too comfortable with the routine I was in. I admit that without embarrassment because I am not alone in this.
Heavenly Father, we ask your forgiveness for our lack of zeal in reaching out into our community with the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. Thank you that even in these difficult times you have enabled us to see new opportunities for worship and fellowship, evangelism and Alpha. We know many people have been disturbed and troubled by the lockdown and have been seeking answers to questions about their identity, why they are here, what more is there to life? We know you are the answer and Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Help us to reach out with this wonderful truth and may the hearts of the people be open to receive it. Amen