August 8, 2021 | Rick Atchley
During the pandemic many organizations had to close as it was determined they were not “essential.” Most churches rightly decided to cancel their public gatherings for the sake of their neighbors. Many Christians grew accustomed to not meeting regularly with other believers, and perhaps started wondering “Is my involvement in a church even necessary?” This series will attempt to answer that question and affirm the importance of essential church!
So I've always enjoyed the story of the woman who comes into the kitchen on a Sunday morning and there's her husband eating a bowl of cereal in his pajamas and she says, honey, you better hurry and get dressed for going to be late for church and he said, I don't think I'm going to church today. She said give me one good reason why you wouldn't go to church today so I'll do better than that. I'll give you two number one. I don't like anybody up there at that church. And number two, I don't think anybody up there likes me. Besides you give me one good reason why I should go to church today. She said I'll do better.
That'll give you 2 number 1. The Bible says, you should go with number 2, you're the preacher. So
I love going to church and these last five weeks, even though I love getting to study and visit other churches, I missed being with my church, family at the hills. And as I said, when we had that long season, that we couldn't gather together, I learned many things. One thing I learned during the pandemic, is that in a crisis, people really do like toilet paper. Isn't that amazing was there?
Think about the symptoms of covid that made us need more toilet paper. But when Americans are in a crisis toilet paper, is our security blanket and our comfort food. The other thing I learned was that too much family? Togetherness is not always a good thing that some families we Thrive better when we have about six to eight hours a day, five days a week not together.
but baby the thing, we all learned the most
is that we don't have to leave home to get most of what we want and do, most of what we need. We learned we can work at home.
We can do school at home. Certainly, we can shop at home.
And we even did Church.
At home. We all understand why that was necessary. The pandemic necessitated the closing of many businesses and institutions that we never thought we would see closed schools restaurants, retail businesses. And you remember the debate early on, when we decided some things have to stay open, no matter how bad it gets.
Have to stay open, grocery stores, have to stay open gas stations, have to stay open. And so we decided some things must stay open because we said they were essential. Now, the reality is most churches, including ours, suspended, there in person, Gatherings for a season. Motivated by Jesus directed to love our neighbors.
So what churches had to do many of them on the spot is Pivot and do their best to pour into online offerings like they never have before. And honestly I think our church was able to Pivot more smoothly than many because we were already heavily invested in on online offerings and that has it changed. And by the way, I'd have to take a moment and say I am so thankful that we have a team of people.
The hills, who are tasked with and committed to producing. Excellent, online, presence for our church. And I hear it from people across the world and how much that means we have people in our church who because of their health conditions can never get out of the house and they can stay connected because of online Church, there are many who are taking care of people with underlying conditions and they don't need to be out yet.
Yet. And this is the way they can stay connected to our church. I hear for example, from members of the military and their only chance to have spiritual nourishment on a Sunday is to watch our church online right now around the world. There are missionaries in different time zones and watching us is the way they get spiritually fed on the field. I am so thankful for the ways that
Can bless the global Community of Christ through our online presence, but hear me.
I don't think that. What is vital for some should become normal for most?
and I'm convinced that the pandemic increased and accelerated, a trend that was already beginning for more and more Christians are devalue the importance of gathering together as a church, family,
I know we still haven't defeated this pandemic.
We're still praying about that but what we are seeing is more businesses now and even more schools requiring in person attendance. Well here's the thing.
Churches, can't do that.
I tell people that I lead a volunteer army.
Nobody salutes me. Although I have received the occasional hand gesture,
so what I want to do in this series is ask this question, just how essential
And now what do we mean by the word church? Now, I know that sometimes will say, let's go to church and that's not really how the word is used in the Bible. We all know church is not a building and I'm not even talking about the universal Body of Christ. When I'm using the word church, I'm using the word. The way it is. Overwhelmingly used in the New Testament, and here's what I mean, I'm talking about a local
Unity of believers who gather regularly.
And commit together to help each other follow Jesus. That's how the New Testament uses the word church. A local community of believers who have decided we're going to get together regularly to help each other follow Jesus.
Just how essential.
Is a fellowship like that?
Because I'm sensing that today, many people have settled for what I would just call kind of a spiritual equivalent of Uber Eats.
That church is a thing, I order when I want it where I want it, how I want it and it's delivered to my house.
And the New Testament, knows nothing of a kind of discipleship.
That doesn't include a commitment to a specific Faith Family.
You know, who knows this better than anybody else.
Our brothers and sisters around the world who are living daily with the very real threat of persecution.
Sometimes we forget about them that today. This first day of the week, August, the 8th, there are millions of Christians.
Who are risking their lives to gather with their church family.
Harassment imprisonment, even death.
And they're getting together with other believers out of mutual allegiance to Jesus because to them.
Meeting is essential, they don't know how to follow Jesus alone.
In the west, we make everything.
Something to consume, have a question for you.
Has Church become a commodity, more than a community.
Something we just order whenever we feel like it.
Or to put it another way.
Is church a product to be consumed?
Or a people to be joined.
I hear many people. Well, my church is just a good cup of coffee at my kitchen table.
My church is my patio, my church is my coffee shop.
And we have turned Church into something we purchase or consume or order. It's becoming a vent.
That we get when we want it.
Instead of a people.
that we serve and commit to
And I can already hear the cynic out there thinking there he goes again those pastors, all they care about is numbers. They're all on ego trips. All they want to do is preach for a big church. I got news for you. I already preached for a big church, what I care about is making and growing followers of Jesus.
And the New Testament.