We just get too busy living and watching others live that we forget the one who gave us life. So we’ve been turning living rooms into life rooms. So, make room.
The Same God In a New Normal
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has turned life upside down around the world. Regardless of your norm, it has been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus and the pandemonium brought on by the pandemic. Believers are limited considering many if not all states are enforcing shelter in place orders that restrict gatherings of more than 10 people. To comply, churches of all sizes have resorted to streaming their weekly services. This in turn brings the church “home” as never before seen in the 20th or 21st centuries. As Jonathan McReynolds says in his “Life Room Anthem” “we’ve been turning living rooms into life rooms” indicative not only of the setup in which he recorded his critically acclaimed album, but the fellowship that takes place when worship and devotion take place outside of the church building, thus intentionally making room for the Lord in their daily lives.
For believers experiencing this new normal, their connection to church as they know it is hard wired to wireless devices and telephones. While technology isn’t always heralded as ‘divine’, this interruption is perceivably so. Church as we know it and have come to know it hasn’t only changed, it’s changing. As ministries work to perfect their streaming capabilities one question lingers, will congregants run back to the church building?
Make no mistake about it, the church will never be closed, so long as ‘go ye’ is still in the bible!
This season of quarantine is also one of reflection as believers may embrace the idea of watching instead of attending church. Giving is a snap regardless of church size and some ministries have even reported an increase in giving. The online access many churches have now made part of their operation has netted new viewers and congregation members. The word is going forth and reaching further than before, with little to no one actually inside a church building. Make no mistake about it, the church will never be closed, so long as ‘go ye’ (Matthew 28:19-20) is still in the bible!
Now go, be the church!
What believers are discovering during the quarantine lockdown is the unprecedented opportunity to be(come) the church Christ has always spoken of. This church not only serves as His ambassadors, but His interest. While you can imagine that ministry leaders would be more relaxed while leading from home, there is even more urgency to get the word out. Shares of weekly services are on the rise and though done digitally, “church hopping” is a thing now, and not at all chagrined. With grim news releasing each day, believers are sharing their faith more boldly and frequently as opposed to keeping it bottled up in public, yet effervescent in church gatherings.
The quarantine has also given the church a chance to purge from itself the impurities of social life that sour the weekly worship experience alluded to when choosing to skip church services. For starters, there are no cliques to make you uncomfortable and exclude you from the best experiences of the congregation. Secondly, there are no seats to claim or be kicked out of by the more seasoned or prized saints. In fact, your seat while watching church online is probably the best seat in your house! Thirdly, all the saints we’ve said need to ‘get out more’ finally have a chance to do so. This relief is beneficial even for church staff who are normally encumbered by their weekly workload. One of the greatest benefits of the lock down is the newfound perspective, when you diversify your online church viewing experience.
You’ll discover just how big the Kingdom is and how vast the Christian experience is by way of online broadcasts and social media. Other ways this quarantine has unexpected benefits to Christian living are the broadcasts, themselves. Services are stripped down, and our denominational differences are stripped away. Many of the tenets of in-person worship service aren’t applicable now (even communion and confession). Pope Francis has suggested that Catholic faithful take their sorrow directly to God in lieu of making confession to a priest during the lockdown.
The church’s connection to the world has come down to the Word and worship…simplicity is working to the saving of souls. And at least for now, solidarity is on the rise within scattered congregations. Members are looking to their leaders for instruction and direction instead of the norm of lodging complaints about what they aren’t doing or are incapable of doing. This worst-case scenario is bringing out the best in leaders some would consider to not be the best.
Lord, send a revival
During the lockdown, church gatherings aren’t essential, but make no mistake about it, the church is! Church is more “open” than it ever was before the COVID-19 lockdown that transformed life for everyone. It’s as if this shaking will cause the church in America to re-examine its true roots. Grassroots gospel is what revolutionized the first century church. Any rejection of an adjusted worship experience wreaks of idolatry. Perhaps ministries worship the act of worshiping together rather than the Lord, Himself. Shelter in place orders are not an ungodly affront nor are they an attack on first amendment rights. What is ungodly is the lack of wisdom that knowingly puts lives in jeopardy. Consider the collateral damage experienced by congregants and leaders who were recently affected after attending large gatherings in Louisiana, Arkansas and Michigan.
Please be advised, the American church is not being persecuted. The American church is being asked to play its part in flattening the curve, that’s all. Our counterparts in other countries are under persecution. Not even Muslims are experiencing persecution, as this futile argument would suggest. Earlier this week, footage was shared of authorities in India interrupting a service at a mosque because of the unsafe numbers. What the American church is experiencing if anything is a shaking and even a revival. This may seem implausible with much of the country sheltering in place, but the people of God that emerge from the quarantine lockdown won’t be the same believers. There’s no way they could be. Think less of the lockdown as isolation and more as incubation.
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 KJV
The focus now isn’t on our church buildings, clothes or personas. It’s in the way we reach God and allow Him to reach us. It’s about what it should have always been about, a personal relationship with Christ. How you achieve isn’t as important as where you may achieve it, right there in your living room…believers, it’s time to make room!