I had an opportunity to meet (digitally, of course) with nearly a dozen pastors of some of the larger Baptist Churches across Sydney this week. We catch up three or four times a year and talk shop. As you can probably imagine, our shop-talk this time was wrapped around the reopening of our buildings and the return to face-to-face gatherings. It was, as these gatherings always are, really insightful, really encouraging, and really thought provoking (the churches of Sydney are in very good hands!). The long and the short of it is that the churches represented in that meeting are all following a fairly similar looking roadmap.
There were two things, however, that really stood out to me in the discussions we had on Wednesday morning. First, the shared awareness and concern that we all need help transitioning out of lockdown and into this new normal of living with COVID. All of us shared our low-level anxiety about increased case numbers and how we – as pastors, leaders, parishioners, and a community – will respond to that. We were also unanimous in our assumption that re-engagement will be gradual and that everyone’s journey will be a bit different. Several of the pastors spoke of “shepherding people” in this process. Second, the recognition that we are still, ultimately, about discipleship not just about getting physical people in physical buildings. Or, to put it another way, getting people back in a physical building is not the end game. We cannot say that we have arrived once we are back in a building. Being back is all part of our main activity of helping one another follow Jesus. (Having said that, I am looking forward to face-to-face interaction!).
Let us follow Jesus out of lockdown and into all he has in store for us!