This past Sunday was the first Sunday the church I pastor met together inside our building in almost 3 months. Our goal was to take plenty of precautions to protect people while accommodating as many as we could. We had our concerns going in and I am glad we have taken the first step. Things will get better and be easier going forward. It is not what any of us would like, but it is progress, and that matters. As I have shared several times, it is not perfect but it is also not permanent.
Some of you attend churches that have already started meeting again. Some of you are part of a church that has not started meeting yet. There are plenty of opinions and ideas. I am not without an opinion. I had opinions prior to entering the building. Some of those are the same and some have changed since the first Sunday. Here are my observations after our first Sunday back, including the things I liked and the things I didn’t like.
It Was Good To See My Brothers and Sisters
There were volunteers and staff in the building while we only had services online. I enjoyed hanging out with them. But it was good to see faces of people I had not seen in months.
I Missed The Fellowship
Though I saw the faces, there was limited interaction. I like to roam around and talk with people on a normal Sunday. People came in and left with very little interaction. One of the purposes of the gathering is fellowship. We will have to find a way to integrate that sooner rather than later.
I Missed Families
Open Door Kidz will be phased in during the upcoming weeks so if parents brought their children they would be in the auditorium with them. Some families did not come out of an abundance of caution. Other families prefer to wait until the children’s programming starts back. There were just a few families with children in the services. I missed seeing them.
I Like Hearing People Sing
Music will change each week as we go forward. I know it will be a blessing to people. We had singing, but not congregational singing. I love hearing corporate singing. There is something about God’s children singing praise to Him. I know it is coming soon, but I missed it the first Sunday back.
It Will Lighten Up
Everything felt very rigid Sunday. Everyone was a little on edge because of the changes. The interaction was limited. There were three chairs between the families. It felt like work preaching. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It will loosen up going forward and as a speaker, it will make my life easier.
People Were Thankful
Most of the people present were just thankful to be able to come to church again. They accommodated the changes even if there were things they did not like. That made things much easier.
Small Groups Are Needed
We have been doing small groups, which we call Life Groups, for about twelve years at Open Door. While we were not having people in the building, there were probably 15 staff and volunteers present each week to pull off the live stream. I saw a bond begin to grow in those people. There was a little less to do each week and we only had to do one service, so there was time to have conversations. Everyone was back at full speed this past Sunday. We cannot remove corporate gatherings. We need those. But small groups where relationships can flourish are more important than ever. If you are not part of a small group or volunteer team, then get involved. You will appreciate the bond of a small group.
As I said at the very beginning, it is not perfect but it is also not permanent. We will continue to move forward and soon things will look more normal than they do differently. Until then, we will continue to work to worship together and accomplish the work of the kingdom.