If a local church is a representation of how Jesus can to be seen, what are people observing in a pandemic?
Online church has its advantages.
In my 40 years as a pastor in a local church I never appreciated what was happening in other churches. I was familiar with nationally recognized churches like Saddleback, Willow Creek, or The Meeting House. A few other churches’ innovations or programs were on my radar and I was vaguely aware of some local church events.
As a coach for pastors, I observe online services across Canada via Facebook or YouTube.
To be clear, I’m not a church hopper or church junkie. Part of my role is to help church leaders think about how they are sharing Jesus with the world. And I am curious about what God is getting credit for in his Church (and if God actually wants some of said credit).
Today, Sunday 31/01/21, I attended online church services in:
Jerusalem (our friend pastors this church and I wanted to see how COVID response is similar and different with Canada).
I check-in regularly with most of pastors of the following churches:
Woodstock and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.,
Whitecourt, Barrhead, Cold Lake, Killam, St. Paul, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, AB and
Here’s what I observed in the midst of a global pandemic.
- Each church evidenced varying levels of skill and technical proficiency but all were doing their best.
- All of the churches incorporated volunteers in making use of their skills and talents.
- Every participant looked sincere.
- Each pastor expressed love for her or his congregation and for God.
- All churches focused on Jesus.
- All involved young people in leadership.
- Each one shared teaching from the Bible.
One church hosted a conversation about mental health and where people could find support.
All but one church focused on how they were reaching out to their community in kindness, generosity and support services.
All churches, except one, honoured national or regional COVID health guidelines.
One church made exceptionally good use of PPE, hand wipes, masks, plexi-glass shields, physical distancing and gathering restrictions of 15% of capacity.
One church supported members in not wearing masks or physically distancing and acted in defiance of health authority restrictions.
Only one church made the national news on 31/01/21.
I don’t need to ask you to guess which one.
So what kind of representation is God getting?
The answer does depend on you.
You may be the only one observed by your family, your neighbors, your classmates or work associates. Church and Jesus look a lot like you.
Keep shining. Be loving. Speak kindly. Honor Jesus.
What are you observing about the local church? Please extend the conversation by sharing this post on your social media platforms and posting a comment below. Thank you.
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Interesting enough, the ONE church I am not associated with is the ONE getting all the media attention. Because I am glass half full kind of person I look for the best in a situation. However that does not negate the truth that the ill-advised actions of the few can overshadow the good behavior of the many. Keep your light shining.
I have observed Deceit and lies in one church which as cause me to question this church during the pandemic. It’s really sad.
I too am usually a glass half full person. Most churches I know are doing everything they can to keep people safe. On the other hand, as a leader, I’m also always asking “what is the half empty teaching me?” A coalition of pastors representing communities writing open letters to the Prime Minister reveals there’s a lot of hard work ahead. I had hoped many of the conspiracy theories in North America would simply blow away with time, but I was wrong, they are gaining in strength particularly in the United States. The apocalyptic “reveal” for me is seeing that the challenges for church leaders may be either to actively confront bad ideas or, walk away and build something new. I’ll flex in every way I can to achieve unity, but there are certain issues where I cannot achieve unity with in some evangelical circles. I feel for any pastor having to navigate these issues.
Thank you, Jordan for joining the conversation. Some responsible leaders act at variance with what you and I think is responsible. I don’t get open letters, especially when they are condescending towards the very people the authors are appealing to for support. The conclusion I come to is that they are “playing to their base” in the way politicians do. A biblical way would to be to write a personal letter to the Prime Minister and each premier, “We are praying for you. Our resources and networks are available to help our nation. What can we best do to get through this pandemic together?”