Just like so many people, I’ve been overwhelmed as of late. You’d think I’d be really happy that all the churches are going online. I am. It’s just that I’ve found that it now means a lot more voices in this conversation that I, as an introvert, find hard to manage.
That being said, I’ve been listening to an older episode of The Church Digital Podcast (Episode 69), and Matt Welty and Jason Morris drop a proverbial bomb in the first 10 minutes
Matt Welty, “…it’s up to you pastors then go for it, you take the responsibility of the health of your county, of your neighborhood, and of your state. It’s on you now. Because the sports guys, they’re not doing anything. I mean, every other large gathering has been clamped down except for the church. And this is one of those weird legal things about separation of church and state kind of stuff where it plays out in wacky ways. For pastors right now. And now we’ve got pressure from both sides. We’ve got pressure from the culture to not open and then you’ve got pressure from people in our churches to open…We want it because it will give us a sense of normalcy. As a churchgoer, as someone who’s been in bad habit, this will give me an anchor that feels great and it will be amazing and I’ll get to see my people and that’ll be awesome. But we’re going to reopen and risk are witness to unbelieving people who we hope to reach and welcome into the family of God. So that the church people who are already engaged in our church currently can come back into a building and then…”
Jason Morris, “…Because you would think that we would have learned from the example of Jesus, that it’s not about us [it’s] about that last person who doesn’t know Jesus yet. And if we do something stupid culturally, that puts yet another mark against the name of Jesus. I think we’re kind of gonna be held accountable for that, too”
Perhaps this is telling of my perspective as it currently stands. I agree with them. The people of the church are so eager to get back to normal, that it could be that we are blind to the people around us who are not church people, or even not believers in Jesus Christ.
The whole staged return concept is attractive, yet it is fraught with dangers. The steps forward and likely steps back will probably create more hard feelings or bad habits. It has struck me that the staggered return might actually accelerate the big fear of the “the church” as an organization…they aren’t coming back.
This dovetails into concerns that are more of a personal and pastoral point-of-view, rather than the Digital Expression of the Great Commission (what this site wants to be about).
I’m glad that people want to get back together. Even I, as the introvert, am struggling with this separation. However, we really need to think about why people want to get back together. Is this really just proof that “the church” is a country club?
How many people are pursuing some sort of discipling while not attending church? Even when options are provided (and within the confines of requests), many people are not part of some sort of discipleship.
Of course, there is the reality is that some people are participating in discipleship (especially right now) to “medicate” their separation from others. There are also probably far too many that are participating more to check the box than to grow in Christ.
All this to say, that “the church” should probably reconsider when and how the return to the building is done.
Now for the ouch part, for me at least. When the church was kicked out of Jerusalem (tied to the fall of Jerusalem in CE 66–73), the church really began to spread. Perhaps instead of viewing not being able to be in the building as a problem to solve, it ought to be seen as a mission to be embraced.