Ahead To Normal
We’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks making our way back to normal as a church. In light of recent changes to the Durham Health Unit’s Guidelines for Places of Worship, I think it’s time that we adjust our thinking and now seek to get ahead to normal.
Allow me to start with a bold statement. I intend no disrespect and I do not say what I’m about to say lightly. So here it goes… I think it’s safe to say that Liberty as we knew it is a thing of the past. What we did, how we did it, and the purpose for doing it is quickly becoming obsolete in current cultural climate.
As a result, I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, “What does Liberty Church look like in the future?”
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but as your pastor and leader, I want to discover them together with you. This will be a collaborative effort and will require input from each of us.
This post serves a reminder of things that I’ve said since the Covid-19 crisis began in March 2020. I hope they inspire you to think and dream about our future together as a community of faith.
How We Meet
Liberty must become a community of faith that meets online, in homes and on site… and in that order of priority.
Unless things change dramatically, we should be prepared to do most of our gathering and connecting virtually through online platforms such as YouTube and Zoom.
We must also be prepared to host small social groups in our homes. Virtual connection is great, but it does not replace the bond created through sharing the same physical space as another. To the extent in which we are comfortable, we need to be willing to open up our homes to others for the purpose of building intimate connections with other members of our church.
Though we can expect to meet on-site regularly, we must be prepared to see online meetings as a normal and exciting way to meet with members of our community of faith.
Why We Meet
Liberty is a church that seeks to devote themselves to the Gospel, to gathering, to living in community and to prayer.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.Acts 2:42 ESV
The first century church was devoted to four simple practices:
- Learning God’s word.
- Gathering together.
- Sharing their resources.
- Praying for one another.
At Liberty Church we have decided to devote ourselves to the same.
Individually and collectively we have been commissioned by Jesus to preach the Gospel and make disciples.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28: 19-20 ESV
A disciple is a worshipper of, a servant for and witness to Jesus Christ.
At Liberty Church we are convinced that our assignment is to celebrate and preach the Gospel of Grace and by doing so, we fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of all people.
What We Bring With Us
What do we want/need to bring with us in to the new reality?
- Community is expressed and experienced through action. We ALL must make intentional efforts to connect with others for our mutual benefit.
- Authenticity is one of the major cornerstones of community. Unless we choose to show up, join in and be real, we will not be able to build authentic, Christ-centered relationships for the purpose of caring for one another and sharing one another’s burdens.
- Corporate prayer/worship
- Physical and online gatherings will allow us worship corporately as we have been mandated to do in the Bible. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-benefits-of-corporate-worship
- Biblical teaching
- Christ focused, Gospel-centered, grace based preaching and teaching is at the core of who we are what we do. Though much of what we are and do is fluid and flexible this one thing is non-negotiable and WILL NEVER CHANGE. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and we are not ashamed of it.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.2 Corinthians 3:6 NIV
What We Leave Behind
- Big events
- Elaborate events designed to attract people to our church are likely a thing of the past for many reasons. Not least of which are the restrictions on public gatherings that will likely be in place for the foreseeable future coupled with the general unease of the public to participate in these events.
- Inefficient programs
- Many of our programs are experiencing fatigue and need to be cancelled, suspended or reimagined. Like many churches, we face the important task of streamlining our programs to maximize missional impact while minimizing expense and volunteer usage.
- Facility preoccupation
- Our building and property are a wonderful blessing and our greatest financial asset. However, we need to understand that we are simply stewards of these things and not owners. It is also true that our biggest asset may also become our biggest liability in the future.
- Consumer mentality
- Gone are the days when those who attend Liberty Church can show up, get what they came for, and leave without contributing to the life and mission of the Church. I’m not simply speaking financially either. Our greatest asset is people and without their unique contribution to the body, we will find ourselves incomplete.
One Final Question
What do you want to be here when we get ahead to normal?
From the things listed above, what is most important to you? What do you see as essential? What do you see as non-essential? What do you see that I didn’t mention?
I invite your feedback. Leave a comment.
In His grip,