Maintaining Christian Fellowship When the Church Doors are Closed
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
By Brenna Fields Taylor
As I write this blog, we are about 2 months into the COVID-19 pandemic here in the United States. Because of the way in which the virus spreads, churches have been forced to close their doors and discontinue meeting in person. And church leadership has become quite creative in determining how to keep doing church when we can’t go to church. One must wonder…prior to now, have we put too much emphasis on the church building? Have we assumed that a church edifice, and everything contained therein, would be what would draw people to Christ (that’s what Christians are supposed to be doing, correct)? Well, I don’t want to digress…that’s another topic for another day!
Christians have begun to make (or were forced to make) the adjustment to worshipping remotely. Even my daddy, who said he would never join Facebook, is listening in to bible study and Sunday services online! Whether it is Facebook, livestream, Zoom, conference call, or a recorded message, Christians seem to be doing the best they can to adjust to the times in which we live (even if some of us had to go kicking and screaming). But while we’re getting our worship and study in, what about the fellowship? Using my own church as an example, the people seem to be thirsty for the person to person fellowship. When we join the weekly prayer meeting conference call, as people join the line and identify themselves, they are joyously greeting one another and are excited to hear each other’s voices. It sometimes is a challenge because everyone is talking while we’re trying to begin the prayer service. If you ‘ve ever been to a family reunion, it’s somewhat like that. Many families reunite every 2 or 3 years, and the meet and greet part of the weekend is sometimes the most exciting time. Everyone is greeting everyone and giving big hugs because we haven’t seen one another in a long time.
So, until we can get back to church (the physical building), what can we do to maintain fellowship? Whatever it is we choose to do, we must be INTENTIONAL about maintaining this fellowship. Maintaining fellowship was easy when we saw each other at least once a week. But now, things are different. When was the last time we picked up the phone (not sent a text) to call someone we haven’t spoken to in a while? When was the last time we wrote and mailed a quick note to someone? (yes, the United States Postal Service is still in operation). Have we thought about doing a “drive-by” and dropping off groceries and supplies to someone in need? We may not be able to go inside the person’s home and fellowship, but we can wave from our cars!
It is easy to become comfortable inside of our homes (I know I definitely am). And I say “we” in the above statements because I know I can do better about maintaining fellowship. Just as, little by little, we’ve gotten comfortable in our own little bubbles, little by little, we can come out of those bubbles and intentionally plan to cultivate Christian fellowship.
While cities are slowly beginning to ‘open up’ again, churches do not yet know when we will return to in-person worship experiences. Until such time, believers will need to get creative, not only in how we worship, but also in how we fellowship. As one of my elementary school teachers used to say, “put on your thinking caps!” Get innovative in how we fellowship with one another. We don’t need a committee meeting and a church vote to do something…do something today!