There is just something about churches that society finds in times of tragedy and hardship
By Tanatswa Muyengedzanwa
This week we returned to the GUMC Germiston Local Church after a couple of months absence. The absence was forced upon us by Covid-19 pandemic.
Church has been known as a place of comfort and hope, where people gather and worship together.
In the Bible Jesus preached that Church is a family or community of people dedicated to serving God. “Whoever does the will of my father in heaven is my brother, sister and mother”(Matthew 12:50).
Church is more than just entertainment, having large numbers of people attending services or hearing messages of empowerment from the pulpit makes one feel good. Church is the lifeline of any society.
Church is a unique place that should instill change in people’s lives.
Today humans have acquired much more knowledge than any other time in history. Science and medicine are going places we never before imagined.
We have bigger jets and cruise liners, faster computers, and powerful drugs for certain diseases are being discovered every day.
Daniel envisioned a time when knowledge would increase (See Daniel 12:4). We have much evidence today of our successes in these and many other areas. We have improved on just about every area of life.
Life becoming more comfortable, and technology changing daily
Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the richest people in the world. This list continues to grow longer and longer. More people can afford vacations, purchase houses, and buy brand new cars.
Some car dealerships will have cars for sale that can be purchased with zero percent down.
Life – overall – seems comfortable for most South Africans. When life is good, most people tend to forget about church – well, until something happens that turns their lives upside down.
Personal or national tragedy seems to cause a major shift in people’s assessment of church. It is a time when people flock to churches in droves. There is just something about churches that society finds in times of tragedy and hardship.
This always fascinates me because the media and general public embrace church or (the idea of church) during the times of crisis, but in times of peace and prosperity, the church seems to become irrelevant again.
Regardless of this double standard, the church keeps people grounded, flushing out the burden of life by providing bedrock of faith and answers to humanity’s deepest needs.
The role of the modern church in the life of the 21st-century believer is critical because it fills a void only the church can. If a car needs fixing, it is brought to the mechanic shop.
If someone is sick, the health center or hospital is the best place to seek medical attention.
With church it is where people should go if they are in need of a “spiritual fix”. The Church is really a hospital for sinners and not an exclusive club for saints.
So why would someone want to attend church? Regardless of what is said about churches, people expect that their life problems can be addressed in some fashion or form.
With all the weight and pressures of their world weighing down on their minds, people expect the church to provide Bible-based answers that no other institution can provide.
Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 around the world, governments have implemented lockdown restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.
Churches have been shut down completely for the past four months or so leaving the people with no place to gather and worship.
So last week since we are back on level one lockdown, churches have opened with a limited number of 100 people. Wearing a mask is compulsory to everyone.
We sanitise before entering the church, and we abide by all measures of social distancing.
People are skeptical about coming to church judging by the number I observed on Sunday. Covid-19 has changed our way of praying in both negative way and positive.
The positives are not many. The positive way it has changed in the sense that most people even some who rarely ask for divine help have called unto God to stop the virus.
And in a negative way it has changed in the sense that we no longer gather and sing together.
Most churches introduced virtual services when large gatherings were prohibited, such as Zoom and live streaming on Facebook.
Though these technologies come with challenges such as not everyone has access to data.
And also elderly people don’t have access to the internet as well. Hence our way of life as Christians has changed.
We no longer do things the same way we did in the past.
People should adapt to the new era we are living in and adjust to the new times.
To do this we should always commit – if we used to go to attend a service every Sunday morning which we can not do now, we should try and sacrifice that same time and sit for those online services with our families, just the same way we priorities business meetings online we should also make time for prayer and make use of technology since we do not know when this pandemic will end.
Judging on the attendance of last week Sunday, people did not come out in numbers physically and on virtual service.
For next Sunday service church leaders should be intouch with section leaders so they encourage their members to come to church physically or participate on virtual services.
And also promote church projects that generate money to help the less privileged people in the church who can not afford buying data for themselves.
Ideas also include the creation of a YouTube channel that will help in generating funds to the church. People need to have their spiritual, emotional and physical needs met.
In II Timothy 3:1 helps me put this in perspective: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.”
I’ll take the liberty to say that perilous times are here.
More and more children are growing up in broken homes, unemployment is on the rise and Christians are sinking deeper into debt like never before.
Many churchgoers are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday lives, and we feel the pinch of reality just like everyone else. Believers are not exempt from trials of the world. We are living in perilous and drastic times.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Targeted small groups should be implemented in churches to be available to meet the needs in each believer’s life.
Irrespective of church size, each church can provide effective small group ministries and outreach services, even smaller churches can have and should have specialized small groups.
This momentum can then spread out beyond the walls of the church and be incorporated into the community where the church serves.
To the best of its ability, the church can provide services, counseling and advice to those in need.
Tanatswa Muyengedzanwa is a member of the Germiston Local, and a member of the History and Archives Committee. For feedback, contact him at 071 776 4613.
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