Things Change, Even Churches

I stood in front of a class of eighth-graders this past September 11th. The topic that day was what had happened on that day in 2001. I talked to them about how 9/11 changed things, airport security in particular. Some of them took on surprising facial expressions when I told them that people used to be able to meet their arriving family members at the gate, as well as escort them all the way to the gate for their departures.

“9/11 changed things.”

The coronavirus

low angle view of cross against sky at night

Photo by Pixabay on

, likewise, is changing things and will change things. Despite our incredible reluctance to admit it, things will not return to what and how they were.

Hopefully, faith communities will grasp that. Churches sometimes have a difficult time accepting that things change. Even as the elephant has thrashed around in the sanctuary, some communities of faith will insist that we need to keep things as they are.

Well, like the Titanic, that vessel is no more!

Streaming worship services are here and they are not going away. When most churches are able to gather in physical worship centers again, streaming the worship service will be an additional way of being connected to the body of believers. It is not just a temporary solution. In fact, many churches will increase their audience because it is not restricted to a geographical area. Today I listened to my friend in ministry, Chuck Moore, speak to his virtual congregation of First Baptist Church of Savoy/Champaign, Illinois. I’m a healthy 16-hour drive away, but I was in the same room with him.

Most of us long for the intimate surroundings of a sanctuary, but we’ve learned, in this time of change, that we can worship online with our faith community and it’s okay. There will be those, like during the worship war battles over hymns and praise music in the 1980s, who will scoff at the new ways, and probably send nasty letters (ironically, the email type) to their pastors about how disgusted they are with all these newfangled ideas. They may even leave the church to find another that is anchored to the past.

So be it! Let them climb into another sinking boat and pretend that it’s a Viking River Cruise.

Things change, and some faith communities are feeling the chains be broken loose during this time as they have to be innovative and creative. The choir has left the building, not virtual choirs are appearing. Last Sunday I listened to a virtual choir from Nashville sing an amazing version of It Is Well With My Soul as a part of the Mason, Michigan Community Church Easter worship. Then I found the video on YouTube and played it another five times. Just think, I’m in Colorado Springs watching the service of a church in Michigan as they air a Tennessee choir connected by about 35 iPhones singing a song.

I remember when my grandparents, farmers in Eastern Kentucky, got indoor plumbing. Before that my grandmother had used a handpump and we’d go to a well in the frontyard and lower a bucket to get a nice cool drink of water. When the indoor plumbing went in my grandfather never went back to the outhouse behind the garden. Indoor plumbing was the new norm for him, and my grandmother didn’t quite know what to do with herself when she just had to turn a faucet on.

Things change, and the churches that don’t recognize that this pandemic has changed from now on how we do ministry will be left holding the bucket.

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