What is a Church?

Dear friends,
When I agreed to write a pastoral letter we were all eagerly waiting for the Covid restrictions to be lifted. I’m writing this letter at the beginning of July and we are still eagerly waiting for the restrictions to be lifted. Some have been lifted and life is beginning to look a little more familiar. There has been a congregation in the church and it has been a great privilege and honour to have been part of the team which produced the online services during the full lock down. Seeing the church with people in it again is very heart-warming.

I have recently finished the Stepwise course which was over a few months and on Zoom. The course was very good and I would be happy to talk to anyone who may be thinking about joining up. There were 10 for us on the course from all over Wessex Synod. It was really good to meet members from other URC Churches. We discussed some interesting topics with Biblical references. Among other things we looked at the churches we find ourselves in. This was a particular interesting time to be looking at this, during a pandemic. For some churches like Woking URC, with a very capable IT team, we have been able to fully embrace technology to livestream services. For other churches the pandemic may have brought them sadly, to an end and there are many URC Churches in between these two ends of the spectrum with their own challenges. We are very fortunate in Woking.

There is some exciting work being carried out up and down the country (and not just the UK) around online churches. It is good to embrace new ways of being a church, but I was wondering what St. Paul would make of all this. Of course, if you are brave enough to spend some time and google “what is church” mostly what you will get is a very secular version of church. Turning to the Bible, there are the letters from St. Paul to the Churches he started. There are so many encouraging verses to choose from, but I would like to share with you this one:

Ephesians 4:11:13 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

A church is what we make it and with prayer and trusting in the good Lord we can try and build a church St. Paul would recognise. The buildings and the technology may and will change but we are all still God’s children.

Before I get myself into some theological deep and hot water, I would encourage you to think about what is church, what should it be and what can I do to serve the body of Christ?

I hope to see you all in person soon. God bless you all and stay safe.
John Sinclair