Our pastor announced they would reopen church next Sunday. While I’ll miss the ability to pause the service and engage in a quick couch-side discussion, I can’t wait to see everyone again. Even if it’s only a pair of eyes peering over a mask.
But while my church is opening, many remain closed for the foreseeable future. And the discussions continue …
Should you fight to have it opened now? What if you are in a vulnerable population or members of your family are? What can your family do if your church is still closed?
Is opening the church that important anyway?
How to reopen church without a building
In many ways, a church is like a hospital—filled with a mix of those giving help and those in need of it. The only difference is that in a church, the patients also serve as doctors.
Every believer, not just the “professional” ones, are there to minister aid.
The Apostle Paul did most of his best work while locked in a Roman prison. There’s no reason we need to wait for our churches to reopen. The physical building may be closed, but we are the church. (See Ephesians 2:19-21)
The problem is, most of us closed “church” long before the coronavirus ever hit, choosing instead to outsource our responsibilities to an institution.
- Does our friend need Christ? Invite them to church.
- Are our kids misbehaving? Send them to the youth group.
- Is there a neighbor in need? Talk to the deacons.
But the responsibility is ours. We are the church. And we need to reopen today.
Here are some ways you can.
1. Encourage Others
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
It doesn’t take much to encourage someone. A phone call, text, or even a handwritten note in the mail (imagine that) can go a long way. My family checks in regularly with an elderly neighbor. Who in your life could use an encouraging word from you today?
2. Make Disciples
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Many people shy away from witnessing to others because they fear they aren’t spiritually mature enough. But 1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
This might sound like we need to be a master of Bible trivia, but it’s much simpler than that. You only need to be able to explain the reason for your hope. Why did you believe? Just tell your story. The circumstances were good enough to lead you to Christ, so they’re good enough to lead others.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”(Colossians 3:16).
The first time I was asked to lead a Bible study, I was terrified. I looked for a way out right up until the last moment. But the responsibility forced me to read the passage in question dozens of times. There may have been others in the class more familiar with it, but it didn’t matter. God blessed my effort.
Facilitate a small Bible study group online, read Bible stories to your children, or sing Bible songs in the car.
The church is open
I worked on Wall Street for most of my life and learned quickly which topics were socially acceptable and which were off-limits. I didn’t want to make waves at work, so my “church” was closed Monday through Friday.
The Apostles also faced pressure to stay silent, but their reaction was much different.
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)
I don’t yet have their boldness, but I’m trying.
Will you join me?
Regardless of what the building you worship in or the government decides—let’s reopen church today.
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Carlos Santiago is a senior writer for FamilyLife and has written and contributed to numerous articles, e-books, and devotionals. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in pastoral counseling. Carlos and his wife, Tanya, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, with their two children.