I’ve grown up in church. I can count on the top of my head the times I’ve missed a church service. From a young child singing and dancing during worship, to an adult serving and being a part of the church. It has been a constant in my life. And for most of us, we know what to expect each week.
But, when we were called to stay at home, the concept of church changed. We couldn’t gather every week. Our pastors were cut off from their congregations. And everything just seemed off. We started to move online. We watched services from our church and sometimes others as well. We began to see the ways a church could do church without being inside a building. And we saw people turn to the church. During the confusion and chaos, people wanted to hear the hope we had. We shared the message of hope and love to everyone, in the hopes that we can help them through this.
We started to learn, the building wasn’t important. Yes, we love our church buildings, and we are very fortunate to have a space to gather together. But when we couldn’t, church didn’t stop. We adapted, adjusted, and overcame the difficulties of the distance. We became a new church. Not limited by a building, but amplified even without one.
The church is more than a building. It’s more than a service. It’s us. We are the church. I know this isn’t a new concept. But seeing the people of God use different technologies, concepts, and ideas to reach others just shows you how much we can accomplish outside of the building. Growth has happened in many churches across America, and the world, as this season has come. And the change we’ve seen has been a breath of fresh air for many of us.
As we return back to our buildings in the next few weeks, I would encourage you to remember this time. Don’t stop being the church because we go back inside. Don’t stop everything you’ve started these past few months. Continue to use these new ideas to reach people. Let’s not revert back to the way it was. We have seen the benefit of both the old and new, and could use some of both. Moving forward with this new knowledge and experience, we can help the church grow.
We are so excited to return to our sanctuaries. It has been a long time, and we cannot believe the end is near. But as we return, remember that the church is more than the building we will stand in. We do not need the sanctuary to have church.
We are the church.