I wrote two or three different drafts of this article before finally calling it good. It wasn't that I didn't know what I wanted it to say. I simply wanted to make sure that I do it with just the right amount of salty grace.
While I know I don't always get it right, I can honestly say I always do my best to make sure that what I say/write is in perfect alignment with God's Word. I don't ever want to be guilty of saying/writing something contradictory to God. That doesn't mean I won't offend people, step on their toes, or even make them mad. Hey, I step on my own toes quite often, so there you go.
Anyway, what you are about to read is probably going to ruffle a few feathers, but I'm not going to apologize for that because what I have written is scripturally sound and accurate. And since the Bible is God's Word, and since God's opinion of everything is truth, no apologies are necessary. So, here goes...
As I hear and read about churches starting to open back up a little more by once again having youth meetings, ministry events, and so forth, it makes me glad and happy to know that the Church is once again reaching out to meet needs, equip believers with knowledge and wisdom, and to seek and save the lost.
I say, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” when I hear and read things like:
*“Awana” will meet...
*Youth group will meet at 6:30 each Sunday evening
*Lady’s Bible study is going to be digging into the book of…
*We will be hosting small groups for our college students beginning…
*Please bring your items for the food pantry
*Sunday School classes will meet....
I could list more, but you get the picture. We are back in business, so to speak—back in the business of praising and worshipping God together as a family of believers. Back in the business of training up our children to know and love the LORD. Back in the business of serving God by serving others. Back in the business of coming together to break bread and be encouraged by the scripture.
But would you like to know something? I’m also glad beyond words that there are some things we aren’t doing anymore.
*I’m glad coffee bars and snack stations are no longer an option so you can get comfy and grab something to eat or drink while you listen to the sermon.
*I’m glad we’re not filling our kids full of pretzels and drink boxes during their lesson time instead of filling them with the Word.
*I’m glad we aren’t having open gyms and crazy games in an attempt to draw a crowd. Jesus doesn't need these things to make himself more appealing. He's MORE than enough on his own.
Now before you start booing me, let me finish what I want to say.
While there is nothing wrong with these things in moderation and in addition to church, these things have ended up distracting us away from the purpose of church, which is to glorify God and grow believers into more mature Christians. We have been distracted by spills, crumbs, noise, wanting more of this or that, wanting to win a game, and things like that. We've even been distracted by sugar highs (a donut can do that to you, you know), burning our tongue on our coffee, the fancy lights, or any number of other things.
What's more, I’m going to go out on a limb (but I don’t have to go very far) and say that statistics, church attendance, and the pulse of society are stark evidence that proves what I just said. You know what I’m talking about—young people leaving the church in droves because they have no faith. Political correctness causing problems within the church and between the local church and the community because people are more concerned about not hurting someone’s feelings than they are about saving their soul. Once more, I could continue, however I think you get what I’m saying.
But with the safety precautions and restrictions we have in place, we’ve ‘had’ to go back to what I’m calling Church 101. Preaching from the Word and singing praises to God in a simple setting without any extras or accessories. A simple and personal time of communion without a band playing in the background. Bible lessons for children and young people that they can remember because they aren’t being distracted by food or blood sugar spikes.
And here's the best part (or one of the best parts): Because of the changes and the return to Church 101, we are seeing a resurgence of genuine fellowship that comes from the heart because we are hungry to be together. Serving others without any fluff. ‘Just’ hearts, minds, and spirits that want to be with each other and give back to God. But is that so bad? No, it’s not, because it is exactly what God wants and requires from us…
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~Micah 6:8 NIV
I enjoy a carry-in and trunk-or-treat as much as the next guy and gal. I’m just saying that since none of this pandemic stuff is a surprise to God, and because he has plans and purposes for everything, I believe with all my heart that he is pleased with the return of Church 101 and that he doesn’t want us to miss out on the opportunity he is giving us to get back to seeing and experiencing him in all his glory during our time of praise, worship, and teaching without having to search for him through all the extras.
Be salt and light,