Churches going through suffering and struggles is of course nothing new. In the world right now, there are churches that are underground because their governments won’t even let them worship together. And there are situations even worse than that.
So while our lives have been disrupted and we are being inconvenienced and going through a measure of suffering, we’ve not experienced anything like what is possible (and probable) to happen in the future. Maybe in our lifetimes, maybe not. But worse is coming at some point.
I bring this up not to be a “Debbie Downer,” but because of an article I read recently that was a good reminder of another reason we need to be building healthy churches.
The article was written by author Jon Zens, who just came out with a new book called Elusive Community: Why Do We Avoid What We Were Created For?
The pillars of “church” are being challenged
Jon wrote something in 1981 that he recently resurfaced given the current COVID-19 pandemic. He did this because the topic of the writing was the church being prepared for conditions like the one we’re in right now.
In his article, he reflects on how the virus has affected what is called “church” in our society. He points out that there are 3 key pillars that church leaders connect with practicing church in America…
- Building to meet in
- Pastor to give sermon
- A way to collect tithes
All three of these have been deeply challenged.
His question from 1981 remains…
Will more people begin to realize the above are not essential components to healthy church life?
Instead, the essential components are the 58 one-anothers found in the New Testament and how those play out in relationships.
As Jon says in his article…
This seems radical only because we are used to patterns of tradition which have no foundation in Scripture.
Is your church antifragile?
What we must ask ourselves in this time is…are we prepared to be the church in a world where anything can happen? Are our relationships strong enough to endure periods of suffering? Are they strong enough that we’ll care and sacrifice for one another like a family? Can our current church life survive societal upheaval? Could it survive persecution?
No one is sure how this whole thing is going to play out long-term. But one thing is for sure – a healthy church is flexible, adaptable and anti-fragile. (Antifragility is a property of systems that increase in capability to thrive as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.)
Let’s build what will endure
The time is always now to start down the road of a healthy church built on healthy biblical relationships and not unbiblical pillars of tradition.
If there’s one thing this pandemic has shown…anything can happen. In fact, the Bible tells us that stuff like this WILL happen, and in increasing measure.
If what’s going on now doesn’t motivate us to get ready, what will?
Jon goes on to say…
There is a way to reality and authenticity in Christ…simplicity. There is a pattern of Christ-centered simplicity that unfolds in the New Testament. The ekklesias (churches) of the first century were relational face-to-face communities. The traditional pastor-centered form is just not going to cut it – from a biblical or practical perspective.
Let’s build and be a part of churches that will endure anything, whether in our lifetime or for the generations to come.