By Ed Barnett
The last few months have been crazy ones for our pastors. They have had to adapt their churches to fit the changing times and do it quickly. Our churches look much different than they did back in January. Most of us couldn’t have imagined that change would happen so quickly. We’re indebted to the tech-savvy members who helped our pastors make this possible.
Several pastors have told me that they tried for years to get a small change in the order of their worship service and couldn’t bring it to pass. Now, overnight, things have changed. Old traditions have fallen by the wayside. We’ve been given the opportunity, as things move back to the church setting, to re-craft the way we do things as we move forward. Here’s my advice: don’t go back to the same old traditions, but creatively look at what will make your service more Christ-centered, more people-friendly, and more inviting to your neighbors who have realized they want to go church again.
We now have the opportunity to reassess why we worship and who we worship. May I suggest that we take time to process that and then revitalize our service as a mission community, so it captures what the church family and the community need as they walk closer with Jesus. Today, many are realizing that this world isn’t the same old place they once thought it was. They’re ready and open for something new. Let’s not disappoint them.
As a church, how can we be more caring and loving? How can we reach out with our mission to share Jesus throughout the Rocky Mountain Conference and elsewhere? How can we be more intentional about making a difference in our communities? If we really believe Jesus is coming soon, it has to make a difference in the way we live our own lives, and it has to make a difference in how we do church.
There will be nothing old in the new normal. Jesus will use what we’ve been through in the last few months as a wakeup call for each one of us and for our faith community, as well. We have been asked to fulfill the Gospel Commission to take Jesus to everyone in our territory. Don’t let anything distract you from that commission.
All too often we have conducted church to massage the saints, but church ought to be conducted to save sinners. As one prominent church leader said, the church is established primarily to reach those who are not like us. We can- not just sit in our ivory towers and think we are doing God’s bidding. Jesus came to show us how to do church and it was by making a difference in the lives of everyone around Him. It included all types of people, including lepers, Pharisees, poor, rich, different ethnicities, prostitutes, politicians, you name them, and you will find Jesus reaching out to them. He especially reached out to the children! And what about the youth? Why many of them are missing in our congregations? Can their voices be heard?
Shouldn’t that be what our churches look like today?
Jesus went against the traditions of the Jewish culture to reach out to everyone. That was one reason some of them hated Him. Nonetheless, He did what His Heavenly Father wanted Him to do, and that was to make a difference in the lives of everyone He could.
Would that our one hundred and thirty-three congregations in the Rocky Mountain Conference would take church more seriously and conduct it the way Jesus would? What then would our churches look like in the age of new normal? Would our communities wake up and realize that it is Jesus that is at the helm? Would they realize that He wants to return to take His people home with Him, that our members are more than willing to help in this path?
Let there be nothing old and moldy in our new normal!
–Ed Barnett is RMC president. Email him at: [email protected]