Leadership in the Christian community is largely focussed on the provision and administration of the Sunday gathering. Church leaders lament that that members are ‘Sunday Christians’ and we regularly preach that they need to be followers of Jesus every day. And yet the entire Christian community and its leadership are centred on the Sunday service. Despite the New Testament emphasis that the people of God, themselves, are the new temple, we seem fixated on recreating Temple worship led by a priestly caste.
One of the impacts of Covid-19 on the church has been to threaten that entire structure. For centuries we’ve arranged ourselves around providing a weekly event but suddenly we couldn’t. I was at an online seminar recently and the speaker commented on the reaction of most churches to Covid. ‘While the world has been going through an existential crisis churches have been preoccupied with when we can get back to our Sunday services.’ But perhaps it’s not surprising that Christians perceived the loss of Sunday services as a greater existential threat than Covid-19? Because without Sunday worship what are we? And why are we?
I wonder if the protestations from churches that they should be allowed to maintain corporate worship during Covid-19 has less to do with the proclamation of the Good News or the Glory of God than to do with the loss of purpose and identity of Christians and their leaders. Because even with churches closed or restricted, the Kingdom of God has not stopped growing in 2020. In fact perhaps the Kingdom has benefited from followers of Jesus being forced to spend more time at home with their families and to take more interest in the wellbeing of neighbours rather than spending so much time in church meetings and preparing for Sundays?