This past Sunday, I spent some time watching people. I did not walk up to talk; instead, I took a few minutes to observe the people before our worship, between our programs, and after everything was finished. Their interactions were interesting and inviting. It was good to see everyone so connected when you consider where we have been in the past 18 months.
One year ago, our Church, along with thousands of others, went online. We were allowed to meet back in person last June, and that is when I did something unique. Our Church pulled all its online programming each week and went back to only providing an audio version of the sermon.
This was an intentional move to get more people back into our Sunday morning meetings. For many, once the habit had formed of not attending, it was easy to stay away. I did not want people to settle for digital worship alone. That is because I live with the conviction that the Church is more than we expect and realize.
Church is showing up and shaking hands and giving smiles while saying, “Good morning.” It is making new friends and reconnecting with older believers. It is all age groups, genders, races, backgrounds, and personalities together in the name of Jesus. Church is having conversations before and after worship that sometimes last until I tell them to lock up when they leave.
The community of faith is not just a sermon to teach you a little Bible once a week. It is people serving together and blessing one another. It is singing the songs of faith to the Lord with other believers. It is praying with people and for people both corporately and individually.
It is not just the support and encouragement you find each week. Many have their faith stretched as they deal with difficult people and situations. This requires more prayer and working through issues as flawed people who are all saved by grace. Failure and mistakes will teach us forgiveness, compassion, and the depth of love in the name of Jesus.
Church is more than a sermon and a few worship songs you watch on Sunday morning. It is more than a passive experience of spiritual things while watching in comfort. Church is people meeting in unity and faith until we become the family of God.
Eventually, we are adding video back to our website, and I am praying it will not become a replacement for being the Church. I hope people will watch and be blessed, but it will not be their Church without being together with one another.
This last Sunday, I watched everyone, and I saw the Church. The community of people who come together in the name of Jesus is irreplaceable. Sure, it is not perfect, but there is nothing like it on earth.