When You Come Together
Do you know what happened on Sunday 15th of March, 2020? If you can’t immediately recall, I don’t blame you; it was a long time ago! Almost four months to be exact, or 17 weeks to be even more exact. And if we’re being really pedantic, 119 days.
So, what was it? What took place on this day?
Well, Sunday 15th of March, 2020 was the last time that we gathered together physically in our building as a church family. It was the last Sunday that we sang together in the same room; uniting our unique voices into one sonorous sound in praise of our glorious God. It was the last Sunday that we bowed our heads in prayer while sitting next to and near each other. It was the last Sunday that I was able to look you in the eye as I proclaimed God’s word to you. It all seems like such a long time ago.
Since that day we’ve been thankful for and blessed by a seamless transition to Church Online; the weekly streaming of worship services on our online platforms. Church Online has been, and we pray will continue to be, a great blessing to many and a great tool for mission; a way for us, while apart, to sing God’s praises, hear God’s Word, and reach out with God’s gospel. And I’m deeply grateful for the many people who have worked so tirelessly and served so selflessly to make it happen; the Tech Team, the Worship Team, our awesome Children’s Ministry team (who have made weekly activities for our kids and weekly trips in the car to deliver them), and more.
And yet, as great as Church Online is, and as thankful as I am for it, it is not exactly a substitute for the embodied, corporate gathering of God’s people. The New Testament speaks often to the centrality and importance of the church body gathering together. The Apostle Paul employs phrases like “when you come together as a church” and “the whole church comes together” (1 Cor. 11:18; 14:23). He also provides specific instructions on what believers should do “in church”—that is, in the church meeting (1 Cor. 14:19, 28). The writer of Hebrews also offers the forthright exhortation to: “…not [give] up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).
This is why I’m so excited and thankful to let you know that starting next Sunday on the 19th of July we will begin phase one of our ‘Reunion Plan’—our plan to get back together and to get back to church. On this day and moving forward we will have in-person services in our building at both 9am and 6pm.
Of course, this initial phase will look and feel different to what we’re used to; there will be restrictions on how many people can attend (according to Government regulations), there will be the need to register beforehand and check-in on arrival (see bpcc.com.au for more details), there will be no in-person Children’s Ministry for the first few weeks, seating will be spaced out (families will sit together), and most elements of the service (e.g., announcements, kids spot, sermon) apart from singing will be pre-recorded and played on the screens in the auditorium (to ensure the ongoing quality and accessibility of Church Online, which will continue to be used by a large number of our church community and beyond). But even with these differences, it’s a start, and I’m excited to be moving towards the day when, God willing, we’ll be able to have everyone together in the building again.
It hasn’t been an easy road these last few months, and there are still some obstacles in the weeks and months ahead, but one thing I’ve been reminded of in all of this is the faithfulness of God and the preciousness of the church. We need each other and we really are better together. So, let’s all move forward together into whatever God has in store for us these next few months with humble hearts and willing hands.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at the Church Office (3882 1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and please continue to pray for us as a church family and for our community.
Grace and peace,