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Being the Church in a Day of Social Distancing

March 16, 2020

flatten the curve 2We all know that the church is not the building—it’s the people. Specifically, the people of God who are united in Christ. Yet gathering together regularly is an essential part of being the local church. The word translated church in the New Testament means “assembly, gathering, congregation.” So in a day of social distancing, when loving our neighbors means staying home, what does it look like to be the church?

Because the details of our government’s guidance concerning crowd sizes and social activities are still unfolding, it’s unclear what the precise implications of all this will be. If you’re part of Stonebridge Church, we’ll update you as soon as things become clearer.

But here are a few ways we can be intentional about being the church for one another, even if gathering as a church in person is not advisable in the weeks ahead.

Pray. One thing we can always do in any situation is pray. And the Lord hears our prayers. Pray for protection. Pray for peace amid the panic. Pray for healing for those infected. Pray for wisdom for leaders making hard decisions. Pray for patience for everyone. Pray for the church to step up in gospel witness. Pray specifically for people in your church family that you regularly interact with. And pray specifically for those who are hurting in various ways. Then write them a note to let them know you prayed for them, and encourage their hearts.

Talk. While visiting one another in person may be limited, we can still connect with each other. Stay in touch with your small group. Check in with elderly friends, family, and neighbors. Encourage those who are having a hard time. God’s common grace has provided a remarkable variety of resources for communicating with people remotely: text, chat, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. And then there’s that old fashioned medium: make a phone call. And as you talk, remember to speak the truth of the gospel to one another. Encourage each other with Scripture. Pray for each other on the phone. We all need help keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Help. Watch out for those in need, both in your church family and in your community. With schools closed, some families are scrambling to figure out what do about their children while they still have to go to work. Consider pitching in to watch them if you’re able. Offer to go to the grocery store or run errands for church members or neighbors who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, so they don’t have to go out and be exposed. Take proper precautions, but be willing to step up and help out. As one church put it recently, “Yes, wash your hands. And then wash someone’s feet.”

Share. Watch for opportunities to give of yourselves for one another. Consider how you can come alongside church members, family members, or neighbors whose jobs are put on hold during this season. Share resources with those who need them but keep finding empty shelves at the store. Keep giving to your local church, whether online or mailing in your offering, not just so they can stay up on expenses, but so your congregation can be mobilized for ministry during this unique time.

Learn. While binging Netflix is tempting, use the extra time at home to nurture your spiritual growth as well. Do it remotely but together. Select a book that you and your small group or a few friends at church can read together and discuss. Consider taking a class together (hint: right now you can take an online course from the Simeon Trust for only $9!). There are so many great resources available. But make sure you share what you’re learning with others in your church family.

Worship remotely. Don’t let yourself get out of the habit of setting aside time to “gather” with God’s people every Sunday. While it’s going to be tempting to treat the next few weeks like a snow day or a vacation, logging on to your local church’s livestream on Sunday morning (or whatever your local church is doing) is important not only for nourishing your soul during this difficult season, but nurturing a healthy commitment to gathering weekly with your church family. It may feel weird for a little while, but what a glorious reunion it will be when we’re finally able to come back together in person!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sherry David permalink
    March 17, 2020 12:35 pm

    Thanks Pastor Brandon for your insite and strong and supportive comments! Rick and I are doing fine. Sherry


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