Won’t Go Back—Can’t Go Back—to the Way it Used to Be

Many adults have memories of having to forgo cartoons and playing certain games on Saturday morning. But some recall the joys of meeting their peers at Sabbath school and AJY. Some athletic adolescents recall lamenting missing out on sports games and meets that took place during Sabbath hours. Other youth and young adults look forward to their church’s robust social program of choir rehearsal and youth group on Friday nights. Adults who are active in leadership love spending Sabbath serving God and community through their talents but they loathe being part of the 20% who do 80% of the work. Many parents of young kids look forward to having their kids interact with others their age at church. Some parents become stressed on Sabbath mornings—yet another day that begins with coaxing and cajoling families out of bed to try to get ready and rush out the door. And some singles love the fellowship church brings. Others feel disconnected in the crowd. Some older adults long for the ability to socialize. Others are reminded of what they’ve lost.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11739
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Church can’t and shouldn’t be the same now as it was before the pandemic. What it will look like is still unknown. But it would be great if it more accurately reflected the original intentions of what Sabbath was designed for (Mark 2:27-28).

To be clear, I completely agree with the principle behind this.

But apparently church can be the same as it was before the pandemic, because it seems to have reverted as quickly as possible (if it ever really changed at all). There might be an online stream to view now, but not to interact. That’s about it for the difference.

There were a few online groups that I found last year, and kind of enjoyed. Every single one of them is gone now. Their churches didn’t see any reason to continue those groups, and that was that.

I liked having the online interaction because I actually had interaction and felt welcome! I wasn’t getting that from my local churches, and it was nice to experience it.

So yeah, it shouldn’t go back to the same old deal. But it already is, and people are getting left behind. How do we keep this from happening all over again? I honestly don’t know.

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The institutional church, at every level, cannot be depended upon to view the pandemic as an opportunity for change orientation. It’s already gone back to ‘entropic tendency’. You should start your own virtual group. That’s what we did. Ironically, our path was facilitated several years ago, before the pandemic, when the church ‘ran us out’, so to speak. They decided to abandon all adult SS classes in favor of live streaming…so there was no more real interaction or sharing…just another ‘sermon’ by one of the elders with no training or ability in teaching, Our class decided to convene at a nearby library which made small rooms available at no cost. When the pandemic hit, it was an easy shift to Zoom, and we’ve decided to continue with it, only meeting in person occasionally, And it might be surprising to some, to see the extent to which our relationships have grown and strengthened in the process.

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Our tradition of gathering together in a physical building each Sabbath evokes a myriad of responses. These are just a sample. So, it’s no surprise that when the pandemic resulted in social distancing, there were various responses to that too. Some breathed a sigh of sadness. Some breathed a sigh of relief. And there was every reaction in between.

Wise words.

The truth is in realizing that many churches and denominations are filled with normal Christians with this prevalent idea that Christianity is merely a cultural — or social — construct that is just “good for them” or “a structured lifestyle.” Some individuals are “Christian” because that is the culture they grew up in or because their parents are Christian in name. Sometimes the Christianity of such individuals is so shallow that they believe that attending church once a week is the means of salvation. On the other side of the pendulum, there are those who are normal in the sense that they see a false Christianity as the true Christianity, that is, they hold to legalism without realizing it. Christianity becomes a means of “self-help,” or “life-improvement,” or a guide for living, but I assure you, that is not Christianity.

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So you think that these people are not being saved?

I have listened to numerous sermons in the Adventist church that referred to Acts 16:31 (and similar texts) where the audience was told that faith is really enough to be saved, but when you confront the speaker afterwards with examples as you mentioned, the list of necessary activities for being saved suddenly becomes a bit longer.

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almost sure,t
The following scripture iprovides guidance for me regarding church attendance:
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.*
Are we attending church because of obligation? - Do we have certain job or position in the church and you feel obligated to be here to perform that certain task? I am grateful for those who are dedicated to their area of service, but simply coming out of obligation is not enough!
Are we attending church out of habit? - Has church become something that you just “do” because it is what you have always done? Attending church is very beneficial, but it should not be done simply because it is a habit. We must understand that as a Christian, God has placed you in the local church in order to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach and to give,

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Sam

Thank you for providing more details. Yet, I am not sure what your answer really is to the question that I raised in my last post:

You referred to Hebrews 10:25, which talks about the importance to attend church regularly. My post was referring to Christians that actually do go to church regularly. Your post puts the focus on the motive for going to church. The people we are talking about go to church in order to get to heaven. That isn’t a bad motive, is it? You finally describe the characteristics of an exemplary Christian (serving, caring for others, praying for leaders, learning, teaching and giving), but is it necessary to be an exemplary Christian in order to be saved?

Imho, the idea that only “good” Christian will be saved eventually leads to legalism.

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I like the NRSV, which I can understand better, and will include version 24 as well, the two verses appear to be one sentence:

24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Clearly this isn’t a directive to attend church regularly, like clockwork, or even to all “meet together” every seven days or so, but it does put come focus on some basics of Christian community behavior, such as love and encouragement.

Of course, the author (like Paul) thought the day of Jesus return was imminent. He was wrong, too, as has been everyone who has predicted Jesus’ return since Jesus told his disciples not to do that.

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I believe God is taking care of us believers. More house gatherings are becoming the churches. This results in closer interactions and relationships with friends but still maintaining and strengthening ones faith. Thanks to the internet, sermons of preference can be found. Quite a number of my circle have found great encouragement at the Village SDA church in Berrien Springs MI with great messages from great pastors that are true to the Word of God.
I believe the last days of this sinful world are nearing speedily. One who has a good foundation need merely look around at the news, look back at the last two years, listen and read about the governments trying to direct the world towards a one world government. Hold fast to the Word of God and keep your eyes focused on our Creator.

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“One world government…” Sounds like conspiracy theory stuff to me. and I suppose the pope will run it.

But I digress…

I may be done with going to church to sit on a pew so I can be talked at whilst silent. I am finding community online. Not only do I learn from experts, but I also interact with them. I meet people from around the world who may see things differently or experience Adventism differently. I’m finding it a more gratifying experience.

But I suspect a pretty high percentage of pastors want to hurry back to the model they learned and want to hold on to. Comfort zone, tradition, and all that.

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i’m pretty much in the same boat…i’m not convinced that risking my health for the sake of an in person church experience is worth it, given all the online options that are everywhere now (we have a lot of the omicron BA.2 variant going on in Calgary)…

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tHANK YOU
Your points are well made,

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Those who would like an online Sabbath experience, should try Adventist Today’s Sabbath School. It’s about 2 hours or so on Zoom. It is a refreshing escape from the typical “blathering” on of a typical Adventist church service. Because it’s on Zoom, anyone can participate. There are participants from all over the world. Try it you may like it. Just go to their website for the Zoom link to join.
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Online or in person worship? If ay all possible I believe in person worship is best.
The early church, a template for today’s church, understood that believers meeting together create community. Many churches today, including ours, have a fellowship hall where church attenders eat together and enjoy events and activities that can be an outreach to the unchurched. .
You can find good teaching and truth online, but you need to be in church to experience the *fellowship of fellow believers and develop relationships within the church body.
“All the believers devoted themselves to . . . sharing in meals ( including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. They worshiped together at the Temple each day . . . **all the while praising God . . . .
Many churches list in the bulletin or announce those in need of prayer so the church can pray for each other and celebrate praises together. “But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him” ([Acts 12:15). And what a joy to worship and sing praise songs to the Lord in unison. “Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts” ([Colossians 3:16],

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