The impact of Covid-19 on our world, culture, and, yes, the Church, is undeniable. Sadly, in my opinion, we have yet to see the complete adverse financial and emotional outcomes still on the horizon.
What mark has this season of fear left on our children?
What financial struggles are still to be revealed? The government can’t keep “stimulus” checks coming forever. And don’t even get me started on the long-term negative effect of the national debt. Somebody someday will pay.
What number of people stopped attending church during this season? Some may never come back. (One report says as many as 20% will never return.)
That’s the bad news.
Here’s some good news: Like never before, pastors and church leaders have been motivated (maybe forced) to evaluate everything.
Every reason for why we do what we do.
And to be clear, evaluation is not always fun, but it is always useful.
Without an ongoing and honest assessment of what’s working and what isn’t, it’s like hitting the cruise control button in a car—we might be moving, but we’re not very engaged.
Eastpoint, the church I pastor, is a purpose-driven church. We are not driven by programs or a personality (me). However, it’s far too easy to go from purpose-driven to purpose-cruisin’, and we’ve been cruising a bit.
God, however, wants engaged people actively growing and serving in an engaged community of faith.
Cruising isn’t God’s plan for your life or His Church.
So the Lord will use whatever means available or necessary to motivate His Church to full-hearted and intentional engagement with one another and the world.
Full, purpose-driven involvement matters because eternity is in the balance for billions on our planet. (I wrote about that here.)
The Church truly is the hope of the world. Yes, of course, Jesus is the reason why this is true, but we are the voice, hands, and feet of Jesus in a culture desperate for hope.
Despite the struggles over the past year, here are four reasons why the Church will always matter:
1. We are all about relationships—relationship with God and relationship with others. And obviously, relationships happen best in person. Whether you’re a physical touch person or not, you were created to be in community with real, live human beings.
2. We were created to worship. We were made to offer our hearts to God in thanksgiving and praise. And we experience a deeper and more intense level of worship when we are gathered with the saints lifting our hands and voices together. Over one hundred times in the Scriptures, we are told to worship the Lord together. You might be able to engage in praise and worship in front of your TV or computer screen, but in person and with others is better.
3. We are investing in the lives of the next generation. Kids need kids. I grew up in church, and some of my best friendships came out of experiencing life with other children and youth who loved Jesus. Kids’ Church (aka Sunday School) is where I first learned the value of fellowship.
4. We are all about life transformation, and transforming encounters happen as we care for and pray for one another. God does not live in a building, but when God’s people gather in His name, there is terrific potential for a transformative experience. When someone lays hands on you and prays for you, there is power in that spiritual transaction. When someone hugs you and communicates that you matter, there is the potential for healing as we connect with others. God generally works through people, and that’s why being with others who love Jesus is necessary.
Of course, the Church is not just brick and mortar (i.e., a building).
And the Church is not just an hour on Sunday.
But the Church is about people joining hearts and hands to experience God’s power and presence—together.
We must never forget that we were made to live in community with one another.
That is the beauty of us in times of uncertainty.
“How incredible and reflective of God’s nature it is
when brothers and sisters work together
unified with one heart, one mind, and one purpose.”
Psalm 133:1 (Bubna Paraphrase Version)