While I (along with the Leadership Team) have spent much time and energy thinking about when and how we can gather for worship again, I think there are some even bigger questions in front of us as we consider how we are called to be church together, to be God’s church here at the corner of Whiteland Rd and Saddle Club. Even though we have not physically gathered together in our building, the church is still growing and living, caring for each other and loving the world.
In Bishop Gafkjen’s pastoral letter from May 8, he shared the following:
With God’s promises in mind, consideration of the following series of questions will provide a good foundation for planning the eventual and gradual coming together in-person of your local community of faith, whenever and however that will be. In considering these questions, keep in mind not just worship, but spiritual life, faith formation, service to the neighbors, and relationships in general as the body of Christ along the continuum that includes both physical and “virtual” presence to one another and so much in between. And do not forget that you are laying foundations upon which you will build for a long time to come.
What is God calling us to be and do in the time ahead? What is God’s purpose for us as a congregation – what is God’ mission through us – moving forward?
What have we learned during the last few months about what is most important in our life together as the body of Christ that can shape how we live, work, and serve together from here forward? What might we bring forward into the future from this experience?
What new skills have we picked up? What other skills and gifts do we need to embrace a new future?
How might our theological, denominational, and biblical perspectives and traditions inform how we move forward?
What among the things that seemed so important before the coronavirus crisis might we give less attention to or let go of altogether?
While I do not yet have answers to all of these questions, I have a few thoughts.
New relationships have begun between long-time participants. I have enjoyed stories of connections between people who had never really talked when we met in person.
By using video to share sermons, prayers and Bible studies, we have reached people who cannot come to our church in person, both new people and former members. This has also provided a way for those who may not be able to join us on Sunday mornings to stay connected.
In general, we respond to individual requests, but are slow to offer their gifts or skills in response to broad requests or to volunteer new ideas.
When we consider the body of Christ, it is important that every part of the body be able to come to worship together. If we begin while still asking ⅔ of our regular worshippers to stay at home, I feel like we would be valuing one part over the others.
We know that church is more than the building, that the gathered and sent believers make up the church. We know that a life of faith requires more than simply attending worship on a Sunday morning.
We are willing and able to make sacrifices and difficult decisions in order to love our neighbors.
What would you add? I would love to continue the conversation. You can share your thoughts with me by email or by phone. Feel free to engage our Leadership Team in these conversations also!
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,