I Went to Church

The other day, I went to church, in a building with other people church.  

How was it you ask? Well, thanks for asking. It was different and I don’t mean good or bad different, just different. How could it not be? We were all appropriately distanced and had our masks on as required.  We didn’t sing, as that is a thing that shouldn’t happen in our health district. When it was all over we had to exit the building right away. Side note to pastors and leaders: I know this is a challenge, but can we please find ways to make all those “rule” announcements as friendly as possible? Thanks.

As I walked out my thoughts weren’t about masks or about our faith and courage compared to other churches who perhaps didn’t follow recommended guidelines or about vaccines or conspiracies or persecution.  All of which I was glad for, by the way.

My thoughts turned to, why was I here? Why would I tell anyone to come back or be involved in church right now? I decided it wasn’t the actual hour we spent sitting in rows, and I say that with all due respect to the folks leading the service. I could have sat on my couch, had a coffee, and watched the same thing I showed up to watch. By the way, many folks will continue to choose that for quite some time, so we need to figure out how to include them in the point I am about to make.

If I didn’t show up to sit in a row, then why was I there? When I looked around the church I saw a person who was fairly new to the church be welcomed by folks in an attempt to get to know him and include him. I saw old friends catching up. I saw two ladies gather around another lady who was struggling with something. There were tears, prayers, comfort, and grace. That’s why we need to show up and be involved, not just to Sunday morning gatherings (I know it will take some time for all of us to be comfortable with that, and that’s okayw). We need to show up and be involved in CHURCH which is not a building or a time or a service. It is the people of God, gathered together (in person or online) to “one another” one another. In all of our plans and protocols, we need to figure out ways to allow for this to happen.

We need to create moments where people can connect. There needs to be opportunities for people to be prayed for. We need to make sure our care for one another and our serving one another is happening.  Small groups need to be meeting either in person, online, or both. We need to be checking on each other. This is not the job of a committee or a person. This is the job of the CHURCH which is you and me. Fellowship needs to be more than cookies and coffee after the sitting in rows part because the cookies and coffee won’t happen for a while in most places. We need to be thinking and praying about how to make that happen (again, all of us, not just the board or some committee.) We are going to have to figure out how to give people time and space to connect once standing in the parking lot becomes impossible due to snow and cold (this also means more of us will need to step up to help clean and make sure we are meeting all the necessary protocols).  

We were created for community. We are the church. Scripture talks about how we are to live, act, love, and serve together. I know that’s challenging right now, but we can’t give up. We need to be thoughtful, prayerful, and creative so that the church continues to be about its Father’s business. 

Marc McAlister

Director of Leadership Development and Church Health