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I don't want to go to church anymore!

Maybe it's just me, but this is a phrase that I've been hearing and thinking. 2020 didn't just introduce us to Covid or what a pandemic could do, it allowed us to look at how we do life. It allowed us to weigh up what we value in relationships and community. It gave us an opportunity to do life differently.


Changing the way we do life or even the things we believe is no easy thing to do. I often liken it to turning the Queen Mary (if you're not familiar with this metaphor, then you're younger than me! It's an old-time cruise liner that took an age to turn 😂). However, Covid gave us the opportunity to metaphorically apply the handbrake and see the Queen Mary turn very quickly. I live in an a suburb of Sydney that is highly Italian! Watching Italians not be able to hug and kiss each other was interesting, but it was amazing how quickly these things shifted. So when I walk through the local piazza I now watch older Italian gentlemen fist pump instead of the usual hug and kiss!


I say this simply because the ways of doing life and our belief systems can change quickly if we have enough motivation to do so. For me this happened to the way I do church. For generations we seem to have done church the same way. It may vary from church to church, but generally people gather together for a service that contains music and a message. We're all facing the same direction and we all basically behave and do the same things. Looking back now, this system of doing church operated like a classroom. There was hierarchy, there was an expectation that the person at the front knew more than the average person and each Sunday they would teach. Then 2020 happened...


Lockdown changed the way I did church forever. Many people around the world were screaming about their rites being violated and that they needed churches to be open. But in my spirit I knew that the Spirit was doing a new thing within me. The church that I was running went online and into a format where everyone had the ability to unmute and speak. Very quickly I watched a community released to share their story, their prophecies, their sufferings, their healings and their testimonies. I watched as one voice was added to another and then another and then another. I listened as these voices combined to one loud voice and I was able to hear the voice of God through all people and not just one person entrusted to teach. This was becoming a feast of God speaking through his people.


I watched as people got creative as we met. New songs were being written, new poems recited, new artworks appearing. I then watched as this creativity spread and those who didn't think that they could sing, draw or even unmute to speak started doing so. As this happened I observed the most peculiar phenomena in me... I realised I had more connection with the people that I was watching than I had ever had before in leading a church. I knew these people, not simply by name, but by their story. The online format could not stop the connection or the authenticity that was occurring. In fact, it was better than what I had seen in doing years of services in person. I'm not saying that there is no place for doing these in-person services, I'm simply astounded by what I was watching happen in a format that most would think was a passing fad or something to get us through Covid.


Each time I would log-off I would sit and marvel at what I had just witnessed. Love was manifest. Wisdom was overflowing. Peace was tangible and lives were being transformed. I had made up my mind that I wasn't going back to the classroom, I wanted to sit at the feast table.


Matt

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