We live in a time when little thought is given to joining churches and group involvement. In fact group involvement is now often described as internet discussions, tweets and facebook messaging. Belonging to a church and participating in formal or informal worship with a group of somewhat like believing individuals is seen by many as unnecessary. Those described as “the greatest generation”, “the baby boomers” and “Generation X” may be the last generations who crave the fellowship, worship and educational opportunities that are still provided by churches within church buildings.
This is not a new insight, but a book that I’ve been reading “Jesus Pilgrimage” gave me reason to think about this. The author spoke of the story of the paralytic who was brought to Jesus by his friends to be healed, but because of the crowds they needed to dismantle the roof over Jesus’ head and lower him down to Jesus to be healed. The author commented on the need of the paralytic to have friends to bring him to Jesus and the importance for the friends of having the chance to help another. It reminded me of how at St. Peter’s we take turns needing and being needed (not by some weird choice process, but by the circumstances brought us in life). And so we care for each other sharing with each other Jesus’ love. Within this community of faith we remind each other of God’s love, Jesus’ forgiveness and the Spirit’s guidance.
I imagine the church of the future will not be so building centered. Pastors may one day preach to a computer screen or facetime the congregation and the hymns of worship may be sung using some kind of shared facetime through which we will hear each other. Offerings will all likely be given electronically and prayer requests expressed in some kind of messaging system. But who really knows the future? Still, while we will grow technologically into the future, I pray, that some church buildings and St. Peter’s will thrive, allowing face to face interaction to continue among God’s people, where human contact will be possible and Jesus’ love felt and not just heard. All of this is, in part, up to us. Though, I doubt that God will allow us to stray away completely from a kind of community that involves face to face sharing and human contact. And it seems we will need such a community to do baptisms and share Holy Communion.
For now, our church buildings is still a place for community and God’s love. The people of St. Peter’s, Chester Springs invite you to share in the learning, worship and love of our church.