The President announced that houses of worship are essential. Who can argue with that – they are. Jesus said on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail. Yes, the church is essential.
Now that we’ve got that out the way. Let’s talk about the business of reopening, reentering, or whatever language you’re using to imply Sunday gatherings. I was recently interviewed by Carey Nieuwhof & David Kinnaman on Church Pulse Weekly. It was great.
I shared my heart with them on why COVID is a disruption to the fabric of the church, in a good way. I’m not saying that I wanted a worldwide pandemic to occur. But, we as the church experienced a reawakening. At least, at the beginning of COVID.
The dust has semi-cleared, and now the conversation is around how do church safely “do church again.” I may get crucified here, but I’m not sure reopening or even reentry are the right words. I think there’s a better way to think about reentering. I’m not against worship gatherings opening up; indeed, we must be wise with how we approach this whole thing.
There is a missing ingredient to this conversation. I’m taking my cue from Mark 5. You know the story Jesus delivers a demon-possessed man who was practicing extreme social distancing and quarantined on a level many of us will never understand. After Jesus healed the man, the dude wanted to follow Jesus. He wanted to continue in his new life with Jesus.
Jesus does something most pastors would not have done, at least not me. I would have invited the guy to join Mission Church in North Omaha. I would have asked him to serve as a greeter as we reopen (at some point, I’m not sure when we will, by the way).
Here’s what Jesus tells the guy, “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:19 NIV
Can you say, “mike drop?” Jesus told the man to
reenter his neighborhood, and not just reenter, but reenter on a mission. See, I’m not a fan of reentering. But I am a raving fan of reentering with a mission. RWAM. Put that on a bracelet.
If and when your church reenters, don’t forget to reenter with a mission. 90% of the church’s conversation lately has been about reentering and reopening. But, Jesus wanted the man to get one thing – the best possible future for those that you know and love revolves around how you’ll reenter.
Our communities are hungry for what we have experienced in this COVID season. Many of us have glory stories for days about what Jesus has done while being quarantined. Join me in refusing our God stories to be overshadowed by organizational steps you need to take to get back to business as usual. Many of our communities are experiencing loneliness, trauma, uncertainty, and poverty. Let’s figure out how to reenter into their pain. Let’s reenter into finding ways to serve our way to influence so that the kingdoms of this world can become the kingdoms of our God.
News flash. Normal is never returning. Our churches will never be the same. What your church needs, and what my church needs is a pastor that is reentering with a mission.