Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

3 Musts for the Post-COVID Church

As more and more people get vaccinated, state and local officials will begin to ease up on mask mandates and other restrictions associated with COVID-19. Churches will also make changes to their policies, and we will begin a new normal. Life will not be what it once was. It is impossible to pick up where we left off a year ago. Too much has happened. Relationships have changed. We have lost loved ones. We are not the same. We see the world through a different lens. All of this influences how we do church.

Church has looked different throughout the pandemic. Online worship has become more prevalent and the norm for some. Many church programs have come to a halt. Fellowship meals and other similar gatherings have ceased. Communion has changed. Some things will go back to normal, but some will not. Even if we resume things as they were, they will not be the same. People will be missing. Our experiences will cause us to look at them differently.

We want to move forward, but how? We need to embrace this as an opportunity to refocus and reset. Don’t expect everything to be what it once was. It’s not going to be. However, we can make wise and long-lasting decisions that will bless people as they begin to gather again. Here are three things we can do.

Emphasize the holiness and mystery of worship – For much of the pandemic, worship has lost its sense of holiness and mystery. We have gathered around TV sets or computers to listen to a message and watch other people sing. When we began meeting in-person, we sanitized and rushed communion. For many in Churches of Christ, communion used to be the focus of worship. Now it is something we do as quickly as possible.

When we come to worship, we need to remember we are in the presence of God. When we commune at the Lord’s table, we are communing with Jesus. Worship and communion are not to be taken lightly. They are not to be rushed. We are engaged in acts of divine mystery. God comes near. We offer sacrifices to the Almighty. We are no longer sitting in our pajamas in front of the TV. We are worshiping before the throne of God. We need to be aware of this as we gather. Worship is a holy moment.

Ask more of Christians, not less – COVID has struck a blow to cultural Christianity. Reluctant worshipers will likely not return. People who only came to church because it is what their family did might not come back. If some people were coming to church for cultural reasons rather than Christ, then there is a good chance they will not be seen again. This is sad, but it is a reality.

Some churches may want to focus on being as accomodating as possible. Certainly, we want to welcome and encourage everyone to return. However, now is the time to remind people of the cost of being a Christian. It is not always easy. The people who stayed understand this. They get what Christianity is all about. Encourage them. Reach out to others like them. The emphasis going forward should be on building a stronger church, not just a larger one.

Focus on hospitality – One of the biggest losses the church suffered during 2020 was its relationships. The emphasis was on worship and nothing else. We missed out on hugs, handshakes, meals, and fellowship. We began to understand that church is more than what we do for an hour on Sunday. It is relationships. It is friendships. It is family.

Hospitality must be practiced and encouraged. A church is not a church if we do not know one another. We are called to do life together. We are to be brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters to one another. The only way we can do this is by eating together and spending time together. This is how Jesus did ministry. It is what the early church practiced. You cannot have a church without practicing hospitality. It is time to gather around tables again to strengthen and form lasting relationships.

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