As I touched on in a previous post, the pandemic upended our church traditions, at least in the Western church, and particularly in America. Near the end of last year, Terri and I sensed the Lord directing us toward a new path in our spiritual journey. That led to our leaving the church we worshipped at for the past decade. In the months that ensued, we have visited churches, in-person and online, but are still waiting to hear a word from the Lord as to where we will attend next.
The advancement of technology certainly will determine how certain churches move forward into the pandemic era. And yes, I believe it’s an era, not a season. The fallout stemming from COVID will influence various facets of our lives for a significant time to come. Truthfully, I believe the tentacles of this pandemic may never fully release us. And it’s not as if the pandemic occurred in a vacuum. No, it unleashed itself on us in a flustering whirlwind mixed with political and societal unrest, economic bulls and bears, exponential technological advances, and blurring lines of what once was considered to be known truth and hard fact. Earthquakes, storms, fires, and other natural disasters continued ravaging us during the onslaught of COVID.
Amid the journey, we realized that the past three to four years blew by in a blur. We are getting older and we’ve left more highway behind us then lies ahead of us. Aging certainly influences the urgency of a person’s spiritual journey. Where we worship is of vital importance. That’s true for us, at least. Is it true for you?
What does worship look like going forward?
Based on numerous conversations I’ve had with others, the pandemic left many people reimagining worship, as well as questioning their church participation. Those that questioned their participation primarily focused on the how and where rather than why. A few people, naturally, questioned the relevance of church in their lives. Terri and I definitely still see the relevance of church and the inherent value of spending time in worship. For us, that’s not really the question. We are trying to determine the how and where. We understand the why.
For the Bantau household, this is still a big work in progress. While our beliefs remain unaltered and steadfast, we are busy reimagining the components defining how we worship as we try to discern where God is leading us to worship.
For us, church is about fellowship and community. Truth is, our world is a better place when we all strive to live in fellowship and community, regardless of our respective faith traditions and other demographic differences. God created us to need one another. We are “people” people. After months of living in the pandemic, we know that living in isolation doesn’t lead anywhere good, even if at times it’s an idea that strikes our fancy.
If you know my mom, then you know how the presence of people illuminates her life whereas the absence of people dims her mood. This, I believe, captures the essence of who God created us to be and the importance of others in our lives. Church once strengthened relationships in communities and neighborhoods. But, at the start of the pandemic, mimicking what was occurring in the world around them, churches shut their doors and staff became hard to find.
As I mentioned earlier, Terri and I are in the process of reimagining where worshipping God looks like for us. It’s important to note that there are things that define church. and outline worship.
First and foremost, the church is a place where people worship God. Worship, in itself, is the very essence of why church exists. The Lord appointed us to gather to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:12).
Baptism and observance of the Lord’s Supper are vital signs and activities of church and worship. A healthy church stands firm on the trustworthiness of God’s Word. A wise church is led by a plurality of Elders. A vibrant church welcomes visitors and promotes fellowship. A unified church models the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—as one body working together for the Kingdom.
Church provides believers with the opportunity to use our individual spiritual gifts for the benefit of our fellow brothers and sisters.
“As each had received a gift, use it to serve on another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Church should nurture believers and help them grow in their Christlikeness and mature in their faith (Colossians 1:28). Isn’t spiritual maturity the goal of church life (Ephesians 4:11-16)?
Finally, church declares the gospel boldly and unashamedly. Believers are instructed to “‘make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Going hand in hand with the evangelistic work of church, I believe, is a ministry that includes caring for the poor and those in need as a tangible model of God’s love, grace, and mercy. As Christians, are we known for demonstrating mercy?
In many churches, the experience has become a music concert. Not that there’s anything wrong with music or concerts. However, it does make me wonder if the emphasis on the experience is due to a lack of substance coming from the pulpit. Other churches seem to serve as bully pulpits for their respective political leanings. Again, there is nothing wrong with promoting social justice and fulfilling the duties of citizenship through civic participation. The problem, in my opinion, is that recently these things seem to overshadow our need to be more like Jesus while overlooking the purpose of the Gospel. Are we committed to boldly proclaiming the truth?
Did COVID transform how we think about the role of church in our lives or did the pandemic simply shed light on existing concerns impacting the present-day body of Christ?
Please pray for us as we continue to seek God’s direction in identifying where He would like us to worship next. Being part of a church fellowship certainly is better than being without. Perhaps, we need to host a front yard (or backyard) Bible study?
Thank you for reading my post. I’d love it if you take time share a comment or tap the like button. Blogging is at its best when we engage with one another in community.
Stay healthy. Be safe. Keep the faith. Share the gospel. Show mercy.
Be bold. Be unashamed.
The Devotional Guy™