At some time or other, all of us wonder, “What difference does my life make?” Being a Christian and member of the Church ought to help you answer that question. But, in this crazy, mixed-up, frustrating, coronavirus world, the answers aren’t always so clear. Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and ask, “What is being the church in this modern world all about?”
I have always said (for 50 years now!) that the Church has four basic purposes: worship, fellowship, Christian education, and service. Now the language we use to describe these four basic purposes may have changed over the years, but the meaning is still the same. Let’s take a quick look.
#1 – Worship … or the Priestly ministry.
Worship is intended to turn our hearts towards God, and help us establish a personal relationship with God. Jesus was the great high priest and his purpose was to bridge the gap between us and God. Worship includes a lot: singing, praying, listening to Scripture, hearing a sermon, sharing in the Lord’s Supper, giving an offering,
rededicating ourselves to God, weddings, baptisms, baby blessings, funerals, prayer meetings, and so much more.
#2 – Fellowship … or koinonia.
This includes sharing life together in community – loving one another, helping one another, praying for one another, admonishing one another, etc. This also includes the Pastoral ministry of the church – counseling, Stephen ministers, visiting the sick, loving the lonely. As the Bible says, “When one suffers, we all suffer together; when one
rejoices, we all rejoice together.” (I Cor. 12:26) This important work is enhanced through Small Groups, CWF Circles, Sunday School classes, and all sorts of fellowship groups.
#3 – Education … or Spiritual Growth.
Jesus said to love God “with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.” (Mark 12:28) Life is a continuing process of learning and growing. As long as we live, we learn. And that’s especially true when it comes to Spirituality. To grow Spiritually means to become more like Jesus, and to become more like Jesus means to grow in the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
gentleness, faithfulness, generosity, and self-control.
#4 – Service, Mission, Outreach … or the Prophetic Ministry.
Jesus said we are to love God and love our neighbor. To love our neighbor is wanting what is best for them. So from the beginning, the Church has reached out to the less fortunate: widows, orphans, the sick, the lonely, social outcasts, the poor, homeless, etc. It also means to speak out against (in words and actions) any conditions in society that are unjust, unfair to any of our neighbors, in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets.
Covid Church Time
Now you might wonder how the Church can do all these things during this time of pandemic when we’re not even able to gather together. But I have been amazed how we are doing an even better job, in many ways, of carrying out these ministries, even though we have to “social distance.”
Meeting on Zoom is not the same as meeting in person, but I’ve been amazed how so many have joined Zoom that don’t, or can’t, come in person (like homebound members). And I must say that on zoom you have a better opportunity to look into each individual’s face, maybe even better than we gather together in person. And the more we Zoom, the more I notice people show up early to visit with each other, and stay “after class” to continue visiting.
Another example for me is the Pastoral Care we have seen enhanced during the Coronavirus epidemic. From the beginning of our “social distancing,” we have encouraged everyone to call each other. Especially call church members or class members who live by
themselves to see how they are doing. This has been wonderful and I’ve heard so many stories about how much people appreciate someone asking if they needed anything.
Another example of how even better things have come through this Covid time has to do with education. So many classes and groups are meeting on zoom. And people who couldn’t attend more than one class are doing so now. New friendships are being made electronically, and it’s great! And our Sunday School and Vacation Bible School children have loved the personal attention they have received through materials and videos being sent to them with their Bible lessons.
Drive-in, Parking Lot Church has been another unique experience we will remember the rest of our lives.
Yes, we will all be glad when the time comes that we can gather back at church to meet and worship like we did before March. But I just like to think how God has taken this unusual time (that has frustrated so many) and brought good things out of it. Even better
things than we might have known otherwise.
It’s so true – “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” - (Romans 8:28)