Although medical experts supposedly had warned of a worldwide pandemic for many years, the COVID crisis caught the Church off-guard. Quite honestly, as church leaders we were totally unprepared. Just last year our Church elders began discussing doomsday scenarios and whether our HCC family was ready for such a moment, but sadly, we never got beyond the discussion phase.
With six months of COVID experience behind us, we now see the world through a different lens. Many believe the world and the church will never be the same. What does that mean for churches like Hollywood Community Church?
We are learning to minister “phygitally.” That may sound like a made-up word, but it refers to a blending of physical and digital. From a church perspective it means that churches have to offer both options: a physical service for those who want to attend, and a digital option for those who want to worship from home. Many churches, like ours, are realizing that online church is here to stay.
The most shocking aspect for pastors has been the hesitancy of believers to return to live church services. In the beginning many complained about worshipping from home. “It is not the same!” “We miss our church family!” and, “we can’t wait to come back!” were several of the statements we frequently heard. Yet over time, believers have come to enjoy the informality and the comfort of worshipping from home.
Let me challenge our HCC family with several thoughts.
- The safety of you and your family is important to us. As your spiritual shepherds, we want to encourage you to do everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and stay away from places that would put you or your family in danger. Most certainly, if you are sick or have a pre-existing health condition, we encourage you to worship from home.
- Worshipping online can never replace worshipping with your faith family. Biblically speaking, we were not created to worship alone. You need the fellowship and the accountability of other believers. Hebrews 10:25 challenges us to not neglect the assembling of ourselves together. In other words, there is something supernatural and sanctificational about joining together with your faith family. Don’t choose convenience over conviction!
- Be consistent in your actions. Quite frankly, many who choose to worship at home are repeatedly out in public during the week. You go to work, shop at stores, go to the barber shop, and eat in restaurants. With the precautions we are taking at church, there is no reason you cannot worship with your faith family on Sunday.
- Parents, take the lead in giving spiritual instruction to your children. Because of successful children’s ministries, many parents have forfeited the spiritual education of their children to Children’s Pastors, Youth Pastors and Sunday school teachers. During this COVID season, God is giving you a unique opportunity to teach and guide your children in their spiritual walk. We want to help you grow in this area.
- We will continue to offer many online options for discipleship and growth. We realize the world has changed and we must change with it. That doesn’t contradict the need to meet together, but we want to subsidize our public meetings with online Life Groups and Discipleship Groups.
Finally, let’s realize that the COVID pandemic gives us many opportunities to be the heart and hands of Jesus. We gather on Sunday, but we scatter during the week. A gathered church is a powerful church. As we look for opportunities to meet together, let’s not forget those in our communities. Let’s point others to Jesus through our love and our actions.