October 25, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: When the Building Becomes a Burden

During part of the verbal exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, (The Woman at the Well) a question arose regarding the correct place to worship God.

Take a moment to read the exchange between them: “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.”

“Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4: 19-24KJV)

During my lifetime, Americans have placed great value on “where” they worship God.

And let me quickly state that there is nothing wrong with choosing to worship God at a particular place, with a certain group of people.

And yes, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that Hebrews 10: 25 teaches us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. I get it!

There is great value in doing so!  However, as a Christian, if this awful Coronavirus has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that our worship must not and cannot be predicated upon being in a particular building or place, amongst a certain group of people.

And as God has allowed this Coronavirus to peel back layer after layer of this “onion” we call “church,” I have witnessed as church members began to deploy.

They walked away from their church buildings, their church friends, their church programs, their church traditions, and “The Sunday Morning Show!” And while not abandoning their love for “Institutional Church,” they started showing up in sewing circles, making masks for those in need.

They showed up at grocery stores and pharmacies, purchasing items for their elderly neighbors.

They started showing up on Internet prayer meetings, small group meetings, and worship services. They suddenly began to realize that where they worshipped, and who they worshipped with, was not nearly as important as Who they are worshipping, and whether they are fleshing out His mandates!

And they remembered that their commitment to financially support the work of the Lord hasn’t diminished because of the Coronavirus. I have heard report after report from pastors who are stating that their giving has not decreased, and in many cases, it has increased!

And where they were preaching to 25-50 on any given Sunday, now they are preaching to hundreds via Facebook, YouTube, etc.

As I sit at my desk writing this column, I am awaiting a news conference by Governor Brian Kemp. I am fully expecting him to start easing restrictions and to issue guidelines governing churches and congregations again assembling in their church buildings. However, may I be honest with you?

As much as I want to see this, and I know you do too, there’s a big part of me that’s not anxious to see it.

The truth is, I really like the model of the church I have seen displayed as a result of the Coronavirus. And here’s another truth that not many people will say … and may get me in trouble for saying … but too many of our churches have lived to see the time where their church building has become a burden!

So, as you return, make up your mind that your church will no longer be confined to “your church building,” and “your church friends.”

Incorporate the “good things” this Coronavirus has forced you to experience, both as an individual and as a church.

Make up your mind not to go back to things the way things were before this awful virus! Keep doing church outside the four walls of your church building! Be innovative!

Yes, there are some programs, practices, and traditions you don’t need to restart. Let ‘em die! And whatever you do, don’t allow your church building to be a burden going forward!

Brother Aaron    

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