How to “do church” when we can’t gather together

The Bible teaches us that church isn’t a building and isn’t a place, but a people. Followers of Jesus are the church. There is what we call a “universal” aspect to this–every believer from every age of history and every location on earth. We are one big family, but we won’t all be together until Jesus returns. Then there is what we call the “local” church–a particular group of believers who regularly gather in a particular location.

The command to not neglect to meet together (Hebrews 10:25) speaks of our local gatherings as we anticipate the day we will join with all our brothers and sisters in the universal gathering.

But sometimes circumstances happen, like with the current pandemic or a winter ice storm, that temporarily hinder our ability to gather. In such cases, we don’t stop being the church, because the church is us. So, what can we do to still keep some sense of our regular gathering when we can’t meet?

Here’s some ideas, in no particular order:

1) Read the Bible together as a family. If you’re married and/or you have children, then use Sunday as a special time to read God’s word together, focus, and reflect on what it says. If you keep sermon notes, you could potentially go back and reread a recent passage and discuss it as a family. If you use a Bible reading calendar, such as this one: 2020 Bible Reading Calendar, then you could read that day’s passage together, talk about it, and pray about it.

If you have young children, you might find a Bible story book useful. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is an excellent resource you can find on Amazon in both print and kindle additions. Also of note are the Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible and the It’s All About Jesus Bible Storybook.

2. Spend extra time in prayer. You can do this by yourself, or again as a family. This would be a great time to think about others in the church or your Sunday School / Bible Study Class and pray for them specifically by name. You can read through a Psalm, song, or hymn line-by-line, pausing to pray whatever comes to mind after each line. You can also spend time praying for the spread of the Gospel in our communities, nation, and world. This would be a great time to pray for other community churches as well as unreached people groups–Joshua Project is a great resource for that.

3. Spend time singing. We sing when we gather as a church. Chances are you also sing in the car, when you’re cleaning, or in the shower. So why not set aside some time on Sunday, again as an individual or with your family, to sing praises to God? If you have a hymnal, you can use that. Or you can put in a CD or fire up the music player on your phone and sing along. You can also find many great Christian songs, often with lyrics, on YouTube.

4. Read. You might set aside some time to read a good devotional book or other book that points your heart and mind to God.

5. Watch a livestream of a church service. Even if they don’t regularly livestream, many churches are using this time to do just that. We’re going to give it a try with info before hand on our Facebook page about it. You can find a lot of streams from a lot of good churches.

6. Contact your fellow church members. We’re hearing the phrase “social distancing” a lot in recent days. I did see a person comment that maybe “physical distancing” would be a better phrase to use. After all, though we want to keep physical interactions down for a few weeks, we still have plenty of ways to socially connect. Text some people in church. Give them a call. If they want, maybe spend some time using Facebook Messenger or another app to video chat with them or have a group chat with several people, again like your Sunday School or Bible Study.

We can’t meet for the moment, but there are still plenty of ways to connect.

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Sunday 2.16.20 (Gospel of Luke: Be Ready)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke with a look at what Jesus says about being ready for his return by pursing his mission in the world. Then on Sunday Evening, we’ll continue our video study The Insanity of Obedience. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Obedience video study

Sermon Notes
Be Ready ~ Luke 12:35-13:9

The sermon in one sentence: We should make ourselves ready for the return of Jesus by working to fulfill his mission.

  • Be ready for the return of Jesus (12:35-40)
    • We should anticipate his return (12:35-37)
    • We should long for his return (12:37-40)
    • We should serve for his return (12:37)
  • Be ready for the return of Jesus by working to fulfill the mission of Jesus (12:41-13:9)
    • Be faithful to live for his glory (12:41-46)
    • Do his will (12:47-48)
    • Be on mission: Love God supremely, love others deeply
      • Our mission has risk (12:49-53)
      • Our mission is necessary and urgent (12:54-13:9)

Songs for Worship
We Shall Behold Him
One Day
Victory in Jesus
10,000 Reasons
It Is Well

Luke

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Sunday 1.5.20 (Missions Sunday)

This Sunday, we’ll welcome the Routons, a missionary couple in Haiti who will share about their ministry. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Onward video study in youth room

Songs for Worship
He Has Made Me Glad / The Sacrifice of Praise
I Stand Amazed
There Is a Redeemer
Ancient Words
We Have Heard the Joyful Sound

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Sunday 12.8.19 (Psalms of Ascent: Unity)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 133. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God leads us to unity with other followers of Jesus. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Unity ~ Psalm 133

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God leads us to unity in Christ.

  • We should pursue unity with other followers of Jesus because it’s good and life-enriching (133:1-3)
    • Unity is togetherness built on mutual purpose and benefit
    • Godly unity is founded on Jesus and his word
  • Ways to foster unity
    • Stay centered on Jesus and his word—helps us to remember it’s not “me vs. you” but “our life together in Christ”
    • Pray for others and especially pray for those you struggle with
    • Look to serve rather than to be served (Philippians 2)
    • Celebrate the diversity of the church family (1 Cor 12)

Songs for Worship
Let There Be Praise
I Love You With the Love of the Lord
God, the Father of Your People
Joy to the World
We Are Called to Be God’s People

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Sunday 12.1.19 (Psalms of Ascent: Fulfillment)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 132. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God fulfills through Jesus every promise he has made to his people. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Fulfillment ~ Psalm 132

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God fulfills his every promise through Jesus.

  • David’s vow to God: I will build you a house (132:1-7)
  • God’s greater promise to David: I will build your house forever (132:11-12)
  • The Great Fulfillment: All of God’s promises come true through Jesus and through Jesus in us (132:8-10, 13-18)
    • God will forever dwell with us
    • He will bless us by fully meeting our needs
    • We have salvation and righteousness
    • We have forever-joy
    • God is strength, light, and life for us and the judge of his enemies

Songs for Worship
Praise to the Lord
Standing on the Promises
Cornerstone
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
All I Have Is Christ

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Sunday 11.17.19 (Psalms of Ascent: Hope)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 130. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God provides us hope through his promises and our salvation. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Onward video study

Sermon Notes
Hope ~ Psalm 130

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God gives lasting hope.

  • Hope is an optimistic longing for a better future
  • We have hope because:
    • God hears (130:1-2)
    • God forgives (130:3-4, 7-8)
    • God speaks (130:5-6)
    • God loves (130:7)

Songs for Worship
The Solid Rock
All in All
The Steadfast Love of the Lord
My Faith Has Found a Resting Place
He Leadeth Me

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Sunday 10.13.19 (psalms of ascent: security)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 125. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God promises eternal good for his people and to guard us into eternity. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Security ~ Psalm 125

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God provides will guard us into eternity.

  • God is eternal security for those who trust in him (125:1-2)
  • God promises eternal goodness for his people (125:3-4)
  • God promises eternal condemnation for evildoers (125:5)

Songs for Worship
The Solid Rock
The Everlasting Arms
You Are So Good to Me
Rescuer
Trust and Obey

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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