The “Doors” of the Church are Still Open!

For Christians who regularly attend worship services, the experience of meeting together is part of the spiritual rhythm of our week and our lives. The habit of worshipping together is encouraged in Scripture. Many of us have attended worship services almost weekly for as long as we can remember. We may even have a favorite seat in the sanctuary that we think belongs to us! Even when we miss church for some reason, it is always reassuring to know that when we return we are warmly received by our friends and pew partners. 

In more than twenty years, I can count on less than two hands the number of times I have cancelled worship. Once, I even held a worship service the day after a category two hurricane even though the church and most of the members had no electricity. During that stressful time, people needed to step away from the chaos of the storm and be bathed in the Spirit of God. Thank God for the church.

This is what makes the present moment unreal. We did not meet for worship in the sanctuary on Sunday, March 15 th. We will not meet for worship in the sanctuary this Sunday, March 22 nd. Unless the facts change soon, we will probably not meet for worship in the sanctuary for a few more Sundays. And as much as this breaks my heart, I want to assure you that your church is still open. 

How can the church ever close? The church meets in a building, but the building is not the church. The building is our sanctuary, our tabernacle and our physical temple. The church is the people who make up the congregation. The saints who have already arrived in Heaven and the generation that has yet to be born are part of the church. So, the church cannot close. The church is wherever we are. The church will not close if we are somewhere serving, giving, praying and worshipping.

I do not want to minimizing the value of gathering as a community. What we do on Sunday is important for so many reasons. Worshipping together is spiritually uplifting to us and it is a public witness to the glory of God. At the same time, I do not want us to miss the opportunity that we now have to take church to the next level.

Just because we are not meeting in the sanctuary does not mean that the church is not at work. Remember that the first Christians did not meet in sanctuaries. They met “house to house” (Acts 2:42-47). Enslaved Africans did not have church services in public out of fear of being killed for their faith. This is the time for the church to be creative about how we address spiritual, social and material needs.
 
Yes, our weekly, Sunday morning, in-person gatherings have been interrupted, but I want to encourage you to set up conference calls with a few friends and watch the streaming worship services together on Sunday mornings. This could be a good way to stay connected with your UBC family.

Let’s continue to pray for and help all who are most affected by the pandemic and ask God to show us how to help the hurting. Here are a few steps UBC is taking to make sure that the church stays connected:
  1. We have set up a special Prayer Line. If you desire to pray with a minister during Sunday morning virtual services, please call 855-PRAY-UBC. This number will also be used to receive new members at the end of worship during the invitation to discipleship. 
  2. Missions. We are in contact with local food pantry sites to see how we can partner with them to distribute food to families. If you would like to assist, please sign up here.
  3. Online Bible studies and Sunday School. Expect to hear more in the next week as we roll out options for online classes.
  4. Wellness Checks: We are beginning to make calls to our sick and shut-in disciples to be sure they have what they need. 
  5. Stewardship: Thank you for making the effort to be consistent in your giving. We will be introducing multiple options to make giving from home easier for you. 

Thank you for your patience as we put new procedures in place. I am so proud of the job that the church staff and leadership are doing to ensure that we continue the work of the Kingdom. Together, we will meet the challenges of our times. As each one of us does our part, the doors of the church will remain wide open.

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Prince R. Rivers
Union Baptist Church

Union Baptist Church | 919-688-1304