Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
-I Corinthians 12:27
One of the best parts of corporate worship is that members are around people they sometimes never see in their daily lives. In college, many of my peers would remark how strange it was to see children and babies after going months only seeing other college students and professors. It was less strange for me because I'd sometimes see them at church. Some of my youth have never known their grandparents or live hundreds of miles from them. Their main experiences with the elderly are their Sunday school teachers and mentors. Sometimes, Church, and its activities and outreach expose people to different generations and types of people they never see outside of church, of various ages, language and cultural groups, the homeless, differently abled, or of different affiliations.
Technology challenges us to interact differently too. In some ways, it opens the door to people who can't or won't come to in-person gatherings. In some ways, it levels the playing field. Like worship, those differences can be simultaneously uncomfortable and filled with growth. My first year here at JCPC, I advocated for video recorded faith statements from our Confirmands to respond to the needs of both one student with special needs and a few with crippling anxiety about public speaking. Their statements were profound, preserved, and shared with compassion in this new way. While it did not happen without resistance, the joy and thanks from the youth and parents who needed that accommodation was worth it. And now Covid has brought a similar growing pain and opportunity.
Our new youth group schedule is to meet every other week in person and socially distanced. While some lessons work in this format, it's better for games. Likewise, the alternating weeks and mid-week bible studies on Zoom are more conducive to lessons and discussion. Some of the youth, and maybe parents too, express their dislike of one or the other. My prayer for them and for you and the small groups to which you belong is to dig deeper! As an extrovert and relationship-oriented person, I confess I do NOT prefer Zoom meetings. I crave the intimacy of my youth squeezed around a table in the Chick-fil-A or local coffee shop. But you know what? I've observed my youth with special needs and anxieties who would ordinarily never pay close attention or share their viewpoints in person or large groups... they freely speak on Zoom. And we are enriched by that sharing. We are more closely resembling the full body of Christ. And when we only come for in-person OR online, we are diminished.
The full body shows up in the fullest gatherings, and there is growth in the places we are not the most comfortable. I've learned a lot in this growing time. I hope you'll join me for ALL the opportunities, and not just the ones you prefer. Let's learn together.