The church was never closed. Yes, you heard me right. The doors of a building were closed, but the church itself never was. “How can this be?” you ask. “I have not been to church in four months?” The answer is this: the church meets in a building, but the building itself is not the church.
One thing this pandemic has made clear is that regardless of a building, the people of God continue to live on. We continue to love, continue to reach out and continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities. We may have been restricted from physical contact, but that does not mean we were restricted from meaningful contact in other ways. The telephone, computer and cell phone became our points of contact. Facebook, Facetime and Zoom became tools to connect with others. Package drops on front porches and cards in the mail became simple but meaningful messages to say, “You are not alone.”
Now that restrictions are easing and meeting in person rests on the horizon, what will the future look like? God only knows, but His children do have a role in what lies ahead. Will we return to what we once were, or will we evolve into something better? “I can’t wait for life to go back to normal,” many of us have said. But what if God does not want things to go back to normal? What if He wants a new and better normal?
Certain elements of our lives as Christ’s followers should continue. Corporate worship, Scripture reading, prayer and loving others should never change. But the way we do church and ministry, the way we love one another and the way we reach into our communities should change according to need and context.
We are living in a season of opportunity. Throughout history, God has used hardships to capture the attention of His people, leading them into a new chapter of their lives and ministry. The church today is no different today. These past four months brought into view what is most important in our lives as Christians. Now that we are on the verge of returning to worship together, what is God speaking to you that will be important for the future? What is He saying through the Bible that point to a renewed focus and that will propel us as church into a new normal?
We may never have an opportunity like this again.