Over the years, the church has transformed in many ways, when we think back to the early church, we don’t necessarily see what we know of as church today. The thing about incremental change is that it allows people to adjust. Often the changes have been so subtle that one can barely notice.
However, for many of us, one day we were in church and the following Sunday we were watching church from a screen in our living.
What does this mean for the future of the church?
I think to answer that, it is a good idea to take a trip down memory lane. The church historically and simply put, was a place where people gathered to worship God. Majority of the time this happened within the homes of people. So really, we have time travelled and added our futuristic gadgets into the mix.
Whilst God has always been complex to understand, he made his will for us simple. Love God. Love People. Jesus’ ministry reflected this simplicity. Though he did the miraculous, all of what he did foundationally showed love for God and for His people.
Likewise, even the early church followed this simplicity model – a place for people to gather together and worship. At its very core, the body of Christ is called to love God and love people.
How they do that has transformed and changed throughout the years to meet the changing views, cultures and people. However what has withstood all of time, is two very simply principles – love people: by having fellowship together, and love god- by and through worship.
It was never about a place for people to gather with a massive stage, a worship band, a coffee cart etc. It was simply a place to gather – in a house, in a backyard, at a park. It does not matter where as the church is not a building. The church is a collective group of people not limited by walls of a building.
Don’t get me wrong. Those things are great and again it has transformed the way we do church in modern day times. However, at the core of what the church is called to do, simplicity has never let us down.
Gathering together and worshiping, has stood the test of time. The two simple actions that don’t need anything else to make connection with each other or with God any ‘better’ but simply are good as they are.
This season has stripped the church back to its very heart and foundation, giving us all a chance to reconnect with God and each other through no other distractions but simply by coming together in our homes, with our loved ones and worshipping.
Whilst again fellowship has looked different, it has given us a chance to catch up with each other, call, have no agenda hang outs to once again simply journey with people as they are and not a by-product of the activities we partake in during corporate fellowship.
I think for the next wee while church is going to look different, where we cannot congregate in a church building as such, but where family and friends will come together in their homes to watch church online, to partake in communion with whatever is the pantry and to enjoy fellowship without the embellishments of corporate worship.
What a blessing it is to treat the church as it was, to remove the bells and whistles, and to simply just worship. What a great time to spend doing church with family and loved ones.
This season has been an important reminder for the church. Not only has it tested the church, but it has proven week in and week out that at its heart the church is called to love God and love others, and this is something that is done simply, daily and intentionally.
It does not need add ons to make it effective, but it is simply effective because of the way in which God has designed us to be in relation with Him and others.
Some great ways to do church at home
Remember that the church is the body of Christ it is not limited to a building. Treat it as such. Get the whole family there, on time, and present. Just because it’s in your house and your watching it on your TV doesn’t mean you should be getting up halfway through to make yourself a snack.
Have a look at other church sermons. There is something truly wonderful about seeing different people around the world come to together in their own way to worship. Step outside (not literally) your usual and have a watch of maybe a friend's church service.
Once you are able to see friends and family again, invite small group of people over to do church with you in your home. Talk about it, with friends, with family, with loved ones.
Don’t stop trying to build community. Technology is a blessing for this time, whilst it wasn’t around in the early church as such- today we have the access to hang out and catch up with the people we journey with simply by calling them, facetiming them, zooming; the list is endless.
Just because this pandemic has resulted in social distancing, it does not mean we need to lose social connection.
Araina Kazia Pereira from Wellington, New Zealand is a published writer having written for various outlets and most recently joining as a Press Service International young writer. She enjoys asking the big questions and writing about the challenging questions that she has wrestled with in her own journey, as well as her learnings along the way. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.