When COVID first hit, I starting focusing on the potentially negative outcomes for the church. I was concerned about the community, concerned about our small business owners, concerned about the money, concerned about Sunday morning, concerned about our future, etc. Not having a building of our own during this time has been very scary for me, because not only am I waiting for the Public School system to give us answers, I’m also wondering, “will enough people even be willing to volunteer for the setup and tear down of our portable church? Over the past few months I started feeling a bit down, HOWEVER, as I have fixed my gaze on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), and considered the reality that our best days really are ahead of us (Eph 3:20), I’m filled with HOPE. I’m hopeFULL because in the middle of these crazy days I’m seeing some of my pastor friends and church planting buddies LEAD the way with creative determination. And I’m inspired by them.
I am seeing 2 things that are noteworthy
#1 – Unconventional Ways Of Ministry are becoming effective!
Seriously, who would have thought even a year ago that “online church” would be the primary way for the church to function. I always knew digital ministry was important, but I never saw this coming! I still remember when Facebook first hit the scene and local pastors were sarcastically telling everyone to get off of Facebook and get their face in the book (bible). Now those same pastors are like, “is there a book that I can read to learn about Facebook, because I gotta go live this Sunday!” lol
No, online church is not perfect. And no, it’s not “the same.” Trust me, the past few months have been a learning curve for me, and I constantly feel like I’m not able to communicate what’s truly in my heart through a video sermon. However, I’m getting better, and so is everyone else I’m seeing. We are all getting better at digital ministry, and the people we lead are getting used to it too. Which means, in just a few more months when everyone is more comfortable with the technology, God is going to start moving and I believe we are going to start seeing a revival online.
It’s like going to a new church. For the first few months it’s interesting but once you start to get to know people and you get into a rhythm, and you start to trust the pastor and the leaders, THEN you start to experience God through those people. I think we have been building trust these past few months, and soon people are gonna start catching on!
***One thing I’m realizing along the way is that for the global church to thrive we are going to have to figure out a way to convince people to prioritize their small groups and micro communities to stay connected in real relationships. Also, we are gonna have to train/equip our small group leaders to truly shepherd people, which might require more than a weekly email or pressing play on a DVD study series. We have got to get serious about training and developing small group leaders to carry the weight of making disciples.
Another thing I Am Seeing?
#2 – A Spirit Of CONSUMERISTIC Religion Is Being Destroyed.
The most damage that has been historically done to the church and God’s people have been through those who are religious…it’s people who know laws and rules, and quote verses, but they don’t actually know Jesus.
For online worshippers, church is no longer about the volume of the music, OR the clothes that you wear. It’s no longer about who you are seen hanging with, or how well you know the preacher. It’s not about Robert’s Rules of Order, or Rachels rules for hairstyles. It’s no longer about checking off your church attendance box and hitting a nice restaurant after.
There is a great sifting happening. The people who felt great about their religious rituals no longer have those. And the CONSUMER Christians have been separated from the CONTRIBUTOR Christians.
In todays version of church, what matters the most is that you wake up…you connect with God through prayer and spiritual disciplines, sure you can “attend church” online, so you might have to log on, but the actual experience of worship is 100% DEPENDENT on you CHOOSING to engage. Nobody is watching you or holding you accountable, YOU have to decide that you will worship and be led by the Holy Spirit in that moment. The church cannot impress you online, (yet, we are still trying to figure that out! Haha)
But the reality is, it’s just you, a screen, and the Holy Spirit. What will you do with it? Will you turn off the distractions? Protect your time with God? Pray? Sing? Lean into the message and be stretched? Even if it comes off as “elementary,” it’s up to you to lean in and do the work of engaging.
For those who HATE this season of church…like it or not…it’s here. And…if us church leaders aren’t finding ways to break it all down into a bit size online experiences, or smaller gatherings with intentional discipling efforts, then we will fizzle. And if christians don’t stop waiting to be impressed, or just coasting and waiting for the “doors to reopen,” digital church hopping from one church website to another hoping to be impressed, if Christians don’t get down and just begin to pray, worship, and be intentional about cultivating our own relationship with God, then we might fizzle too!
I have hope…I love our church…and I love what I am seeing. I believe we are on the precipice of one of the greatest spiritual awakenings that has ever hit the world…and I believe it will be led by those who fall in love with Jesus on a deeper level during this awkward season.