If you asked me to perform tasks with my non-dominant hand, look out. After 52+ years of favouring one hand, suddenly asking me to do the opposite is not going to be easy. It should be simple shouldn’t it? With a little practice or maybe a lot of practice I should be able to overcome the underdeveloped skills and muscle tone to produce the same outcome previously achieved by my other hand shouldn’t I? Still, it is likely that once given the chance, I will return to my old way of doing things because it was the way I have always done things; it is easier.
People lament, and rightfully so, that church online is impersonal.
I know that this is what needs to be done for our safety but you can’t fault people for missing the human contact of a Sunday morning service. Wait, I think I should take that back. For some people this lament is truly representative of how much life has changed, how much human contact they have lost. For others, the loss of human contact has gone from bumping into people as they rush in to get their seat at church and rush out to get their seat in the restaurant to bumping into that nagging feeling that you once had something to do on a Sunday morning. Their lament is based in the fact that things have changed. Impersonal is the word they use because who wants to say they miss the predictability of their weekly visit to church and the restaurant? Saying that would make them look bad.
Church will start up again at some point.
People will once again have close interactions once a week on Sunday mornings. I’m not sure what close will look like after the COVID19 social distancing practices that we have adopted but I can say church will be in person rather than through a video camera lens once again. I am sure for most the first Sunday back will be special. Even those who push past others to get a seat, first at church and then later at the restaurant, will experience a little euphoria as they once again return to church. How many weeks before the impersonal online once lamented way of doing church, is replaced for many by the zombie like state of the predictable weekly visit to church.
We have discovered that impersonal is not what we like.
We have been forced to change from our “dominant hand” to our “non-dominant hand.” We discovered that, with some work, we can make church online a reasonable replacement for meeting in person. We may not like it, but it is better than nothing at all. For most of us this is not enough. We miss the personal interaction. We miss the feeling of being surrounded by people who are all at the same place, at the same time, for the same reason. Our “non-dominant hand” is not better than our “dominant hand” and we can’t wait to go back to the way things were.
What are we really missing?
As much as I have missed my “dominant hand” I have found that returning to it is not what I want. Just because I like using my “dominant hand” better doesn’t mean that my “non-dominant hand” was actually worse when it comes to what the Holy Sp**** wants to accomplish. There I go again using that bad word Holy Spi***. I would never argue that the impersonal online church meeting was equal to the gatherings we once had in person. Still, I would like to point out that the church meetings we had when we could all gather may have been just as impersonal even though they were done in person. Even in the most loving and interactive churches, ones that make you feel like you belong, I have to ask were they personal enough?
The most personal part of church is you meeting with God.
We once sang “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” In many circles church was about coming into the presence of God, experiencing the Holy Spir** moving,convicting, directing, performing signs and wonders and speaking through the preacher. The corporate dynamic added to the experience. People singing and praising together made the gathering much more than anything we could have on our own. Still, the focus of the time spent was to grow under the perfect move of the Holy Spiri* but something changed. At some point fellowship with each other became the motive for meeting not growing in the things of God exposed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It may be easier to go from my “non-dominant hand” back to my “dominant hand”…
…but if my “dominant hand” and “non-dominant hand” are just different types of incoordination then I return to what is easier but never seek out what is better. When we return to our churches and get the euphoric feeling of being back together again will the only change be that we are no longer online? In this time of being apart we have the chance to let the hand of God become the dominant hand in our lives and our churches. There is nothing wrong with the personal touch of meeting together in person but it is just a gathering of people when the personal touch of the Holy Spirit isn’t the reason we get together.
Holy Spirit guide me through this pandemic by working in my life and guide me beyond this pandemic by working in my church so that God’s hand is dominant in everything.