Updated: Jun 8, 2020
By: Rev. Dr. Demetrius A. Russell, Sr.
The church has faced many challenges throughout its history. Whether it’s been self inflicted
or not, obstacles have never sidelined the universal church. With the growth of COVID-19 and the various articles in this publication and worldwide, I struggled with even submitting an article on this subject. However, I realized that we must take the time to face a certain reality. That reality is many of our churches and traditions, may struggle to survive.
I believe that there are some traditions that are good for the local church but the question that I want to pose is, “could many of our traditions hinder us from being effective churches?”
Let me explain why I’m asking this question. I understand how difficult it is for all of us to not be together on Sunday mornings and some of us on Wednesday nights. Many have complained and made statements that would suggest that all the church is good for is meeting, singing, praying, preaching and having a good time. Basically the church has become a get away from the world and an entertainment club. I know, that seems a little harsh so let me suggest that we look for what we deem religious and we have forsaken what God wants to see from us.
Was it ever in God’s plan for us to just hangout with each other and not impact the world? As a matter of fact, Acts 17:6 makes reference to believers being responsible for “turning the world upside down.” That means our reach of influence should go beyond the physical edifice. That could, perhaps, include how we do worship and bible study.
While completing my doctoral degree, some of my class mates, came across information that a student successfully defended their Doctoral Research Project (DRP) on developing a virtual church and model. In this model, the pastor and music ministry would minister via livestream. They included various ways to give through links directing them to online websites such as PayPal. There was no building. Just a computer.
We were all surprised and in disbelief. What is this individual thinking? Why would they want to take away the opportunity for believers and non believers to assemble together? Has this person lost their mind?
Little did we know that the church would eventually have to look to minister in this way. Could it be that God was preparing this individual for such a time as this? Could it be that we were so stuck in our ways that we missed God sharing with us a model that would be used in the future in conjunction with our normal worship? I do not know, but the one question that must be asked and answered is, “Will the church, as we know, survive?”
Examining the local and universal church throughout history, it is suggested that the way we “do church” has changed, especially when trauma is experienced. Our failure to grow from each experience says that we value traditions over the path of growth and development God may desire for us to experience. We do know that every experience is designed to make us better and we become better by taking in and applying the lessons presented. We have been in a cocoon for so long and now is the churches season to start flapping its wings to break out and show the world who we really are! They should see that we aren’t just consumed with those in the pews but we also care about those who are unsaved and unchurched.
So will the church as we know it survive? Prayerfully, NO! Our reach of influence should expand, our compassion and concern for others should grow, we should be willing to focus on using different methods along with what we are accustomed to, for the purpose of following Jesus. I don’t expect the church to remain the same and prayerfully, none will feel that way. This is when we learn if we are selfish or a follower of Jesus. I pray we can all say the latter.
May we learn during this time that being saved and being the church is more than entering into the building, praying, singing, shouting/dancing, preaching etc. May we use this time to learn to be the light in the world and not a light inside the walls to those that should already have the light.