The church is both gathered and scattered

I have been trying to reflect on lessons God has been teaching me throughout the pandemic of 2020.  Here’s what I have so far:

1) All plans are tentative                                                                                              

2) Slow down

3) Touch with words

4) Choose to focus on what you still have

5) Life is very fragile

The pandemic has taught us two seemingly different truths about the church.  First it taught us that the church is not a building.  It is not just a bunch of people who meet in a building on Sunday morning to have a worship service.  The church is still the church when it is scattered in homes and other places throughout the week.  The church is a body of believers who are followers of Jesus.  If you shut down a Sunday morning service in a building, you don’t shut down the church.  That is a very important lesson to learn.

The other seemingly opposite truth that has become more and more clear during the pandemic is that the church needs to gather.  We need to see and interact with each other to remain emotionally and spiritually healthy.  Online and Zoom gatherings help and they are much better than not meeting at all, but these kind of gatherings have their limits.  The author of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).  There are 35 “one another” passages in the New Testament that we must live out in community (e.g. comfort one another, bear one another’s burdens, accept one another, forgive one another, be kind to one another, strengthen one another, encourage one another, etc.)

Both of these descriptions of the church are true and we must live with them in tension and balance.  If we only focus on one, then the church becomes unhealthy and ineffective.  I am praying the Lord will give us creative ideas in 2021 to be both the “church scattered” and the “church gathered.”

Reflections:  Does your church have a healthy balance between gathering and scattering?  If not, which area of focus is the weakest?  How can you help be a catalyst for change?

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:46-47

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