The Post Pandemic Church

We’re “that close” to returning to normal. So close. But returning to normal is making me think of a story that a famous evangelist, a wounded, disfigured Vietnam vet, told. He’s been badly burned by a phosphorus grenade. It was months before his wife saw him. When she was able to come he told her “I’m sorry I’m not pretty for you any more.” She looked at him and said, “It’s okay. You never really were that pretty anyway.” Neither was normal. Think about the words we use even to say “we’re going back to normal.” Back is backwards. We can’t. Another cliché? Been there done that. Let’s not do it again.

Sure, there is much about “normal” that’s worth going back to. I love seeing more people gathering. There have been more and more handshakes. Still awkward a bit. And there have been a few hugs, mostly the Baptist Side Hugs. I’ll take them however they come. But other things have changed permanently. We are, whatever this means we don’t fully know yet, an online organization. Our ministry is conducted not just in a building but everywhere. Not just in Wayne County but as far as people can be found. This is a good change. Members, our family, who have been unable to participate because of health or distance have become full participants in the life of our church. Others have joined in. A welcome reality.

But there is another big change we’re embracing. Church, First Baptist, must be something far more than an organization. It must be a movement. There is a difference. Organizations do their work, their activities, through structures. Some of those are physical, a building for example. Other structures are flows of authority and responsibility and accountability, the kinds of things that can be shown in an organizational chart. Organizations require those things. Authority, responsibility, power. Know why? Organizations spend their time and energy trying to get other people to do the work needed. Power, accountability, those are necessary to getting other people to do the work. Movements are vastly different. They can exist without structures. People don’t need, or even want, power and authority within movements. Movements do not exist to get other people to carry on the work of the movement. The defining characteristic of a movement is it carries us. We get swept up in a movement and we do whatever we can or must to move it forward because we love it. Love, not power, is what defines a movement. And further, it needs no buildings or activities. Movements spread because people can’t help but talk about them. They can’t help but do whatever must be to spread them.

The movement we are swept up in is all about loving Jesus. It’s about making Jesup more like heaven today than it was yesterday. It’s about turning people into apprentices, disciples, of Jesus who live and love like him. And you don’t need a thing you don’t already have to do this. You have your life, your soul, your heart and love for Jesus and for your church and that’s all you need. Go make this a movement.