Click below to listen to this post on the Candidly Kendra podcast:
Several months ago the Coronavirus hit the world and changed everything.
I mean, isn’t it strange that we all have favorite masks now? And I don’t mean superhero masks, either – but you already know that, because even our concept of the word “masks” has changed.
But the Coronavirus also changed everything in our church experience.
At first, when our churches shut down, it felt a little surreal – strange and scary – but also a little interesting and novel to sit in our pajamas with the dog in our laps during the new online church.
Soon, very soon, Zoom Sunday school became our least favorite thing to do and we hoped we’d be back to normal quickly. We imagined how wonderful it would be to go back to church.
We thought it might look something like this.
But, sadly, not everyone is coming back.
My friend told me about an acquaintance whose wife and kids have decided not to go back to church. They think online church is just fine and don’t see the need to return to the building.
Another friend, a mature Christian who loves to read Christian nonfiction, told me that she “worships better at home.” She might be right. So why am I so uncomfortable with what she’s saying?
Is the building so important? Why do we need to go to church if we worship better – with the same great teaching and music – at home?
And then I baked a cake. …And suddenly it clicked.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. …There may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
I Corinthians 12;14, 25-26
As I gathered ingredients to bake a cake I realized that cake ingredients are better together. And they require the Baker to make them into something truly delicious and better than even the sum of the parts.
Add flour to a bowl. How does it taste? Add some sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Now give it a taste. A little better, but not something I’d want to eat for breakfast.
If you pour in some buttermilk, softened butter, vanilla, and eggs, you would have a pretty tasty batter – but it still hasn’t reached the full potential that it could reach if you let those ingredients interact with each other in the heat of the oven.
Give it one hour in the oven, and you’ve got yourself a cake! (Now that I’d eat for breakfast.) Better yet, add a sauce made from butter, sugar, vanilla and water, and you’ve made it into a Kentucky Butter Cake, something miles better than any of those ingredients could have achieved by their own hard work alone.
Each ingredient has a vital role in the final outcome of the cake. And each of the other ingredients, plus the heat of the oven, make that first ingredient into something better than it could have been by itself.
How do you suppose that cake would turn out if an egg decides to study at home instead? How would it taste if the butter felt like it was doing fine without the other ingredients and didn’t show up? The cake wouldn’t turn out as well. Because something was missing.
That, my friends, is why we need Christian community.
That is why it isn’t just enough for us to watch great preaching and listen to great music online. We need the ministry of the church in our lives. We need people who know us and see us and sharpen us and encourage us. We need to see others and know them and sharpen them and encourage them.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
If your church is open, go. It will be so good for you. It will be good for others to have you there. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, this is one of the best ways God has given us to grow.
If your church isn’t open, how can you have Christian community online? Steve and I actually felt incredibly encouraged by the community we were able to find virtually throughout the Coronavirus stay-at-home order.
We nurtured spiritual friendships with others through the Marco Polo app. (I HIGHLY recommend). We made every possible effort to make the most out of Zoom Bible studies, speaking up often, and making jokes to liven things up. And we gathered in small groups when possible to watch online church together in our house. It helped so much to sing along with a few others!
I am thankful that God is the Great Baker that has better plans for me than I could accomplish on my own. And his plan is to work through the ministry of his church.