At the beginning of the current pandemic, when it seemed that our best option was to do a full shutdown and shelter in place, we realized a positive side - the church is not the building, it is the people.
I remember writing about how church isn’t canceled, because you can’t cancel a people, and this is still true. But a new problem has arisen - responsibility and love for neighbor means we still are not gathering at the building, and now we must truly put our words into action.
If we’re really honest, even while we (again, myself included) proclaimed that “the church is not a building, it is a people,” we did still hope that it wouldn’t be too long before we could get back to the building. We’ve become so familiar with “church” being something that happens at 2101 Hemphill Street, that it can be hard to know what it looks like to be the church elsewhere. The church never really did reside in a building, but we sure got comfortable there.
So now that we are scattered (but not shattered!), we are uncomfortable. One solution has been to move our regular programming online, but this comes with the same caveat as the former, in a different location - if we move from 2101 Hemphill to www.sscofc.org, we are still gathering at some (virtual) place to “do church.”
Don’t get me wrong, I encourage you to watch Sunday services on Facebook Live, participate in Wednesday night classes on Zoom, explore Webinars and Online Groups, and take advantage of many other offerings for children, students, and recovery communities. We hope you’ll engage in these things, but we don’t want the church to migrate from the building to the internet - the church is still the people!
So we offer these resources online, but the purpose is not to make it easier to “go to church” - the purpose is to empower all of us to BE THE CHURCH!
This actually may be easier than it has been in the past. When you log off of Zoom or close your Facebook app, you don’t even have to drive home before you can love your neighbors, you’re already there! But it can also be even easier to do nothing, since you don’t even have to get out of bed to “go to church.”
So I encourage you to tune in to Southside Online, but I implore you to be the body of Christ where you are. Let’s have eyes that see the needs of people made in God’s image, mouths that speak grace and truth in love, ears that hear and listen to the pain of others, hands that serve others and help the helpless, feet that walk in the shoes of the downtrodden and stand for what’s right and good.
It may be helpful to offer a few practical examples of what this might look like. We could...
- - Use more time at home to spend more time with God in prayer and scripture.
- - Use proximity to neighbors to share the gospel and the love of God with those nearby.
- - Use the internet to explore perspectives of those who think differently (to learn, not to argue).
- - Use energy saved by fewer social events to call or text someone and ask how they are and how you can pray for them.
- - Use time saved by not driving to the church building to talk to the person holding a sign that says "anything helps."
- - Use money saved by not eating out so much to share a meal with someone who is hungry.
Then hopefully when life is back to the way we are comfortable with, these kinds of actions will become habits that stick...
The church is the body - whatever we can do to live out the love of Christ, let’s do that.