Meeting Again After Quarantine Won’t Be Easy
It has been a long few months, hasn’t it? Around the world, from America, to Bolivia, to Zambia, we’ve had to self isolate and change the way we interact with the world, including how we gather as believers. Whether we’ve been meeting over Zoom or watching a live stream, meeting together has been different for all of us.
And now, some of us are allowed to gather, in person, at the building again. Others of us are getting ready to go back in the near future. My assembly has met at the building and over Zoom for the past few Sundays now. It has been good to be back, even with the changes.
I want to share four tips on how to transition back into meeting at the church building when that time comes. So, whether you think this is all a real threat to be taken seriously, or that it’s a “plannedemic” or hoax, or if you’re somewhere in between, here are some things I’ve learned to keep in mind as we gather in the name of the Lord in person again.
- Accept that we’ve all been affected. In one way or another, we have all had to adapt our lives to the times, and that has been harder on some than on others. Mothers have had to teach their children, people have been out of work, some have been very isolated while others have not. There are dear Christians who believe we should follow public health regulations seriously, and there are dear believers who feel we should not. There is fear and frustration on both sides. Add to all this the reality that, for many, it’s been months since we were physically present with these people and we may have lost touch in the time being. We’ve all missed one another’s fellowship and ministry in the Spirit. We will all have to adjust as we gather together again.
- Be flexible. Things will look and feel different when you walk through the door. Everything from meeting times and formats, seating arrangements, the elements of the Lord’s Supper and how they are distributed, to which doors you’re allowed to enter or exit, may be different. And they may change again. That’s okay! The Lord is still present in the midst! We likely won’t be wearing face masks or physically distancing forever, so take courage! This is a time to be flexible, so that the testimony of the Lord is not tarnished by our actions.
- Support the leadership. Trying to accommodate public health regulations as well as the needs of the assembly is not a balance that is usually required of assembly leaders. So, this is new ground for them. They’ve been praying and deliberating for a while now, and aren’t trying to make things arbitrarily difficult for you. Pray for them as they make these tough calls and figure out how to implement rules. Be careful of grumbling or complaining against them, and submit to the authority God has given them in the assembly (Hebrews 13:17).
- Give grace. We are called to be people of peace, grace, and love. So it should come as no surprise that at a time like this we need to give grace. A lot of it. Don’t allow hard feelings to pop up because some folks in the assembly are still isolating or didn’t keep in touch during quarantine. It doesn’t make them less spiritual or mean they don’t love you as a member of the Body of Christ. You may disagree with others on wearing masks and physical distancing. You may not like any of the changes made! Yet, Romans 15:7 says we are to accept and receive one another hospitably and kindly. Now is a good time to do that.
These have been unprecedented times. Let’s do good with good attitudes and thus bring all the glory to our Lord as we navigate them together.