Unlocking Lockdown – to meet or not to meet
As lockdown restrictions ease, churches are making decisions about how and when they reopen for physical meetings. So where do we stand on this at Jubilee Community Church?
The simple answer is we will continue to meet as we are, but, with potential for a few key differences. Let me explain/unpack this.
The moment the conversation moved to places of worship for their re-opening, I was listening! It’s our turn I thought; quite impressed we were remembered in a long spreadsheet of guidelines!
Yet, as I read that bell ringers could begin on 4th July, and churches could re-open but with no singing and interaction of no more than 30 people abiding by 2m distancing whilst wearing masks, I knew the government’s view of church is very different to ours.
This isn’t a, ‘let’s all laugh at the UK’s re-opening strategy’, but to ask the serious question, “have we constrained the gospel for so long that those looking in from outside the Church only see the importance of bells and buildings?”
Church is a family. What family gathering is there where you don’t want to invite everyone, whether unwell, old or vulnerable. A party where you don’t want to hug, kiss or at least shake someone’s hand and you have to wait before you’re allowed in the house!
But families get creative, they don’t assume that love and fun come just from when they see each other, rather it’s from the people themselves. So, they find new ways to connect, to share and be with each other. Outside, on zoom, or with bubbles!
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer
In Acts we’re shown a picture of the early church. Not a community centre, steeple or bell ringer in sight. They were a church in the home, experiencing the risen Lord and seeing revival spread as they devoted themselves to God and to each other. There probably isn’t a Pastor (or Crèche volunteer…!) out there that hasn’t at some point day dreamed about this. A time of raw faith, no rotas, and radical Love – and all without a building to call their own.
I believe the UK Church is at a unique moment in history, where we get to look at the scriptures again to guide us on the re-opening and re-forming process. Let’s have hearts filled with honour, unity and devotion. If we will grasp it I believe the very image of the Church in the UK’s eye will break out in greater glory.
Let’s be changed afresh by the glorious gospel of Jesus, reacting in love and creativity through the coming months. John Wesley’s words are as powerful as ever when he said “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Revival is in the air friends.
So, on to the potential differences.
It is true that some of us are probably wondering what all the fuss has been about, others of us are cautiously approaching re-entry, while others of us are anticipating another spike in infections and are shielding for health reasons.
Titus 3 gives us a helpful framework for how we approach this,
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
So, with Acts 2 and Titus 3 still in our hearts we feel it is best to look with faith at the guidelines before us, and see how God might be leading.
Let’s behave like a family and get creative.
If it is safe to do so, then two families can meet together on Sundays to devote themselves to teaching, to prayer, to breaking bread and to sharing a meal.
Neighbours can be invited in to watch and question, friends can be a part of your faith without ever needing to walk through our centre’s doors.
make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
We will meet like this for Sunday services until what we can do altogether is more inclusive and recognisable as typical church. This time of Church in the home will not last forever, let’s make the most of every opportunity.
Daniel Baptist – Lead Elder