What do you do “bestest”?
I’m a beast at knitting, and love to sing and enjoy a bit of writing as well. I’m second-best at all sorts of other things, and the list of things I cannot do (hello, mathematics!) is long. But knitting? I’m confident in my ability to knit.
Churches have a list of things they excel at as well. This season of isolation has challenged many of our congregations, because often what they do best is what they do together. From Sunday morning worship to fellowship; to bringing food to those who grieve and that authoritative thwack of the serving spoon at potlucks – all these things we do “bestest”, and we do them together.
So when the Governor says we can’t gather together again until late June at the earliest… we grieve because this is what we do, and we do it well.
Who are we, if not the gathered body of Christ?
How long can we maintain social isolation from each other, and still be the body of Christ?
Who are we, if we cannot do what we do well?
I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to discover what we do “second-bestest”? Fodder for this might be found in remembering the Great Ends of the Church.
The great ends of the Church are:
- the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
- the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
- the maintenance of divine worship;
- the preservation of the truth;
- the promotion of social righteousness; and
- the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
What’s interesting to me is that this list is not ranked in order of priority (there is no “bestest” as it were)… and yet I believe many of our congregations have placed a high priority on the top three or four. It makes me wonder what our congregations might look like if we began to focus on strengthening the other areas that identify to the church. What might the world look like if we emerged from this time of social isolation being able to claim that what we do best is the promotion of social righteousness… or we excelled at being an exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world?
Please note, this doesn’t mean abandoning what we do well. We need to continue to do that as this season continues as best as we are able… but we might discover our faith deepens as individuals and as congregations as we embrace more fully the other Great Ends.