Where were you in March when you heard our country was shutting down because of COVID-19? I still remember being at home and receiving one email after another from churches, organizations and ministries canceling the events I was booked to speak at. It still feels surreal, and never would have I expected it to carry on as long as it has.
Over those many months, the church building sat empty, but now we are slowly seeing the brick and mortar church beginning to open up again here in Canada. As the doors start to strategically open, I hear many share the same thing over and over…
“We can’t go back to what we were doing before” and “We can’t go back to normal.”
Respectfully, I think we are going to go back to what we did before as if Covid-19 never happened. Why? Because I’m not exactly sure what we learned as the church over the last few months when the buildings were shut down.
When the church buildings first closed, I remember seeing a post shared all over social media, which read, “With the church shutting its doors, it is time for us to show that the church has never been about the building.”
As challenging of a time as this was for the church, I believe many of us saw this as an opportunity to step outside of the box and reach new people. The church has never been about the building. But how did we respond?
We made our house the new box.
We put services online, which has been great to get our church brand out there, but I have to admit, I even stopped tuning in by mid-April. And I definitely didn’t invite non-churchgoers to watch online. A great opportunity, but how many of us took advantage of using the online church presentation to reach new people? All I did was watch it in my bed.
Part of being the church is sharing Jesus with others – that is our purpose and the great commission as the church. Again, if I’m being honest, I tried to avoid as many people as I could over the last few months. Next-door neighbors, people at the gas station, and even the Uber Eats delivery drivers. I avoided them all, and I definitely didn’t share the Gospel with them. I didn’t want to get sick or be judged for not social distancing.
Truly, I didn’t talk about Jesus with anyone who didn’t already know Him. Even as the country began opening up in different phases, I have taken more opportunities to socialize with my current Christian friends I haven’t seen in months, rather than to connect with non-believers.
Personally, I don’t think I did a whole lot to show others that the church has never been about the building, and I get the sense many of us are in that boat. Why? Because many of us have been on the edge of our seats for months waiting for the church to open up so we can go back to normal. And when it does, I believe going back to what we have always done is inevitable.
I challenge you not to just go back into the same routine of showing up to church and just going back to what we have always done. I understand we didn’t do the greatest job showing others the church isn’t about the building, but we have an opportunity moving forward to take advantage of having a physical church building to use as a resource and a place to bring new people to.
We can be the church and use the church, and maybe through it all, God can use you to bring other men to the brick and mortar church building to hear the Gospel for the first time.