Back in the day, there was a famous rockstar named Elvis Presley. Maybe you’ve heard of him.
Elvis was so popular that crowds would go crazy at his concerts. Fans would wait in the arena after each show, hoping he’d come back out for one more song at the end. The only way many fans would go home was to wait until the announcers had said, “Elvis has left the building.”
Elvis is just one example of a superstar who was worshipped by his fans. I’m sure that you can think of many other celebrities, past and present, who have received the same kind of treatment. We all have our favorite actors, athletes, authors and artists, don’t we? We may not be quick to admit it, but we admire people for some aspect that we believe we lack: fame, beauty, money, intelligence, strength — you name it.
When we idolize celebrities, we’re only worshipping the external, shiny parts of their lives. And sometimes, we do the same thing with the church. We make the church about the music, the pastor, the building and the programs — about what it has to offer us.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting quarantine have begun to show us our true selves. They have largely stripped away our individual comforts, freedoms, routines and distractions.
This is especially true in America, the land of Hollywood, the iPhone and social media. This crisis has forced us to examine who, what and why we worship. For those of us who are Christians, we have to ask ourselves the question: Are we fans or followers?
We are not called to be fans of the church. We are called to be followers of Jesus. Don’t forget there’s a crucial difference: We don’t go to church; we are the church!
We are a people sent and a church scattered. And in this time of great uncertainty, we need to be fulfilling our mission of pointing people to Jesus.
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The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 10:14-15:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”
Here are three ways we can be the church in a season of social distancing:
God gives us his power and perspective over our circumstances when we pray. Pray for the people in your life who need Jesus. Now is not the time to mourn the fact that our churches aren’t meeting — now is the time to pour out what’s been poured into us and give to others!
Talk with your family and friends to think of ways to reach out to the people in your community with the hope of Jesus. This might be the first time you can reach out to them without them thinking you’re crazy! How can you love and serve your neighbors in the days ahead? You may be surprised by how responsive people may be to the gospel if you only try to reach and serve them.
3. Reach out.
It’s not enough to just pray and brainstorm. You have to put feet to your faith. James 2:14-17 tells us:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Do anything you can to love people. Write them, call them, buy their groceries, mow their lawns, serve them.
In these difficult days, we need to be the church and not just play church. The church has left the building.
Nick Hall, is an evangelist and author. He is the creative visionary behind the Leader Check-In and Together 2020 gatherings and the Year of the Bible campaign, and the host of The Bible Quarantine. Follow him @NickHall.