Theologian N.T. Wright has expresses a concern about the danger with e-worship. He detects a societal shift toward Christianity as being a “private” movement that would have no place in public life. He sees a danger in virtual church gatherings giving the impression of church as a private club only for the like-minded, cordoning it off from the rest of society. “Public worship of the Triune God,” he maintains, “in a public place – observing whatever security measures are appropriate – has always been a major part of sending out that signal to the watching world.”
How will church life be different when we get back to normal? Will some believers prefer to stay home and be content connecting with the church on line? Will the church “triumphant” become more invisible and private in the days to come, just when the witness of the good news will be needed more than ever? Even more importantly, how will believers receive soul care? Will men tend to become “lone rangers” in the post coronavirus era, believing they can manage their spiritual life on their own?
Men, I exhort you to take the lead in making sure you and your family connect with flesh and blood believers. You are going to need the strength that comes from being “a part of” rather than being “disconnected” from fellowship. Who will stand with you in the days to come? The battle will be great. There is going to be confusion and outright despair about the future. We need to “man up.”
Paul has some strong words for us men. “No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood, flow through us, nourishing us so that we grow up healthy in God, robust in love” (Eph 4:14-16 MSG). We need the nourishment that only comes through life together.
Being on line for our Sunday church service has been a new experience for Judy and I. We long for face to face fellowship. Like you, we are part of the body of Christ. “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ…..Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is separate and necessary part of it” (I Cor 12:12 & 27 NLT).
Recent data from Barna has revealed a new cultural reality and spiritual landscape in our nation caused by the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. With churches featuring digital formats, among practicing Christians approximately half have been steaming their regular church online. Around one-third have been streaming a different church, and the rest have done neither and have taken time out from church. Men, don’t fade away.
David Kinnaman of Barna maintains that the coronavirus, “has merely accelerated the disruptions that were already occurring in culture, accentuating a sense of a deep cultural chaos, which is impacting many spheres of society.” He warned, “We’re not going back to normal.”
He asks a very searching question: “The COVID crisis is going to accelerate many needed changes for the church. How is is that we are going to show up in an anxious moment for an anxious generation, for an isolated generation, for people that are struggling with questions but maybe aren’t all that hungry for spiritual answers.”