It is my sincere hope we will all think carefully about our church-based commitments before returning to all of them. I said in the early days of the pandemic that it isn’t often we get a do-over in life, but this situation has given us one. Doesn’t it make sense to take it?
The lockdowns are slowly ending and churches are tentatively re-opening. Of course most are opening during vacation season so have begun with a much-reduced schedule of programming—typically Sunday morning services and not a whole lot else. But summer will soon be past and the busy fall season will be upon us. It’s safe to assume that come August or September, most churches will hope to start up the rest of their programs—youth groups and men’s breakfasts and women’s meetings and potlucks and mid-week prayer and Sunday schools and small groups and young adult fellowships and choir and children’s ministries and senior’s meetings and moms n’ tots and all the rest.
As the pandemic swept across the world, as it shut our schools, closed our workplaces, and shuttered our churches, many of us were left gasping with pain and fear. Would we lose our jobs? Would we lose our homes? Would we be able to make it through? And how would we hope to endure it all while separated from the local church and its means of grace? These have been difficult days for all and agonizing days for some.
But even as we uttered a collective gasp of pain, many also breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Though we were now grappling with a great measure of uncertainty, it came with a commensurate loss of activity. In a moment our lives had been reduced to the bare essentials. Gone was the busyness that seems to creep in on us until it has captured us and enslaved us and forced us to do its will. In the past few months many have told how this has been an unexpected blessing amidst all the trauma. They have been forced to quiet down and slow down. They have gained clarity on just how much they were attempting to do and how unsustainable it was. Perhaps a bit sheepishly, many have admitted that it wasn’t just work, hobbies, and little league that was draining them, but church as well. While all of us immediately missed Sunday morning worship, I don’t think nearly so many missed all those other activities and ministries. At least, not to the same degree.
In the coming weeks a great many churches will be considering the programs and ministries they will offer in the fall season and beginning to spin them back up. And this has gotten me thinking about what we may learn from the pandemic and from the sigh of relief many breathed out over the course of the lockdown. It is my sincere hope we will all think carefully about our church-based commitments before returning to all of them. I said in the early days of the pandemic that it isn’t often we get a do-over in life, but this situation has given us one. Doesn’t it make sense to take it?