“Get out of bed and come watch church!”, I yell down the hall to our 18-year-old daughter who has never been a morning person. She eventually comes down the hall, half asleep, and slumps into an easy chair in the living room. Meanwhile, my husband is getting a second cup of coffee as I hook up the TV to a device so that we can watch church service online on a Sunday.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I’m pretty sure it does because church online is how most of us have been doing church since March 2020. There were a couple of fleeting moments when the church reopened and we could attend services in the building but, even then, the attendance was limited, and we had to wear masks.
Just a few weeks later, the COVID-19 infection rates spiked in California and the guidelines from the health department changed. Once again, the building became empty and we found ourselves back in our living rooms on Sunday mornings.
Like everything else, our church life has been disrupted. Not interrupted but disrupted. There’s a big difference. We haven’t stopped church. In fact, in almost every way, church has continued. We continue to receive a weekly message given by our pastors that guides us through the week. Our church (Koinonia Church in Hanford, California) meets, via Zoom, on Sunday mornings before services begin to pray together. More recently, our small groups have begun meeting for the fall session online or in homes (following state safety guidelines). And beginning this Sunday, our church will start having live 9am services outside on the church lawn – socially distanced, of course.
Services to our community have also continued. For example, the Kings Pantry food program has been meeting the increased need for families who are struggling financially as a direct result of COVID-19.
The church experience may be different right now, but church continues. Not because it’s an institution or a building, but because church is people.
Isn’t that the way of the gospel? When you look back through church history, you can see that whenever the church has been disrupted, the people would find ways to continue. The early church secretly met in the catacombs beneath Rome. The symbol of a fish became a message to others that a home or building was a place where Christians could meet during times of persecution. During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the churches closed for a time, yet found ways to reach their congregations. Many newspapers across the country printed the sermons and announcements from local churches so that people could worship at home.
We are blessed to live in a time when technology provides many ways to worship away from the church building. We look forward to the day when we can come together again in community and worship side by side. For now, we praise God in the midst of the storm and keep our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:20 (NLT)
“And so the LORD’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
His praises in Jerusalem,
When multitudes gather together
And kingdoms come to worship the LORD.”
Psalms 102:21-22 (NLT)
Paula Aiton is a worship leader at Koinonia Church and a freelance writer, musician and artist. Her blog, God’s Glory Girl can be found at godsglorygirl.com.