I went to parking lot church. They don’t call it that, but it is a good description of the format. When I pulled in, I knew I would have to stay in my vehicle. I was given a bulletin with information that would be covered during the service, a flyer about the Governor’s executive order and how this church is complying with that, a card to write my prayer requests on, printed words to today’s songs, and a communion cup, as it happened to be “Communion Sunday.”
The instructions included information about the volunteer safety team, use of the restroom, and a setting for my radio. Initial instructions on the radio as the service began included a reminder that we are using our vehicle batteries, so be aware of how that will affect us when we want to leave the service. Also, a friendly statement that there are jumper cables on the premises.
And they proceeded into church. There was a song time and then the pastor shared what was on his heart. The interaction requested by him was turning in our Bibles, raising our hand, and near the end, the encouraged honking of our horn to respond.
This, to me was an example of parking lot church done well. Not explicitly stated in the bulletin, but I understood it, was the idea that the safety team has been given instructions on how to make sure that all are operating under the mandated social distancing rules. Additionally, it doesn’t say it, but I would applaud training that included requesting the people leave if they violate the parameters.
Why did I go to this service? I went because of Hebrews 10:24-25.
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – NIV”
I don’t know what caused the habit of some of the believers of the time to stop assembling, but we are all very aware of why we are not currently assembling. Can we do services online? Absolutely! And it can be wonderful and uplifting and … helpful and, as time passes, … easy and … lackadaisical and … apathetic and … laid aside and …….. scorned.
Those doing the production and the preaching are putting themselves into the process heart and soul. The rest just “tune in” and watch. For our “at risk” populations, online services are a wonderful resource and need to be utilized. What about the rest of us? Remember with me that for decades leaders have admonished from the pulpit that TV church is not a replacement for going to church. Has that position really, fundamentally and instantly, changed? Is online church really the only option for the able-bodied among us?
Through out the week, we will go to the grocery store, we will stop by a friend’s house and talk from the driveway, we will go to the hardware store to get supplies for the next project, and we will (I myself, included) even run in to a local consignment shop to pick up our purchases, doing our part to “shop local” online – all properly masked, of course.
But we cannot sit in our cars in the church parking lot for an hour of assembling to worship, a belief held by some leadership and many churches in the area. Given the documentation, I do not believe that parking lot church violates the Executive Order. I believe the unwillingness to offer this church format boils down to a “concern” or fear that attendees will not remain in their vehicles. What I saw this morning was a good indication that people can be trusted to follow the rules. And I believe the Safety Team would have gone into action had there been violations.
Because they care. They care about the health of the people who came. They care about the need to follow the governmental guidelines. They care about the damage to their testimony to the public at large should they not follow the guidelines.
And they care about that suggestion in Hebrews 10 about assembling together.
Normally my posts are just a quick drink and not a whole ocean, so why did I say all of this? I am saying this to challenge every church in our community to think about Hebrews 10 and consider if online church has to be the only format that we will offer.
Is it really not possible that other churches in our community could implement the same types of procedures for gathering? Are the laypeople willing to abide by guidelines of assembly so that we can just be together to worship? Would it not be a powerful testimony for the community to see that we want to be together, and will implement guidelines to make it happen? Would it not be right in God’s eyes to continue to assemble together?