“You never answered my question,” declared my eight-year-old daughter. “What question?” I inquired. “The one I asked you a minute ago,” she responded. “Are you sure you asked me a question? I didn’t hear it,” I stated straightforwardly. “Yes sir, I did. But you didn’t hear it because you were on your phone,” she declared just as straightforwardly. (And oh, how her proclamation ever sent conviction through my fatherly/pastoral spirit!) I mounted my defense: “But you know this is really the first time I have been on my phone in a while! Most of our vacation, I have not used it.” And she placed the final punctuation in the conversation: “Yes. You are right. You haven’t been on your phone much, and I am thankful. In fact, I am eternally grateful.”
I’ve learned that kids can help us see clearly who we are
and where we are—especially when they speak in such matter-of-fact terms as Ainsley! Last week’s conversation provided that venue for me once again. I realized how disconnected I could be even when I’m more connected than ever. What does that mean? Well, few would argue that technology has brought us together. There aren’t many places you can go and escape the cell coverage that keeps you informed of the daily news, the necessary emails, etc. (Although I did find a few areas like that in my recent trip out West!) And yet, we can get so tied up with our apps, texts, and TikToks that we miss the personal connection right before us. I would even say that we get so preoccupied with work issues or “breaking news” that we fail to hear the voice right before us. I’m thankful that I had a few days to be able to connect with my family in the midst of chaotic and frantic times, and I would encourage you to find such a moment right where you are. Sure, it is important to be informed, but it is okay to turn the news off. I know you need to answer your texts/emails, but you can put the phone down for a while. Listen to those around you. Cultivate those relationships. Spend some quiet time with the Father above who passionately desires you. I promise you that you (and the folks around you) will be eternally grateful!
Of course, I am especially thankful that the Lord allows me to connect with you, my faith family. God has fashioned each of us to live in community with other believers, and it is important that we as a church stay connected. Recently, I read an article that suggested the disconnection of churches during the last few months of this pandemic. Citing Barna’s “State of the Church” research, the author pointed out that, as of May, “nearly half of church adults had not streamed online services for at least four weeks and one in three practicing Christians had simply stopped attending church during the pandemic.” If these numbers are accurate, they indicate a serious disconnect of believers with their spiritual families . . . a disturbing and potentially devastating trend. No Christ-follower can thrive outside a faith community.
This week, we will continue our ReGathering efforts as we join on campus for Sunday School. As we have stated multiple times, we are not trying to pressure you to return to campus if you feel uncomfortable. Our worship livestream will continue and many of our classes will continue to stream their studies so you can be a part. But for those of you who do choose to attend, please assist us in doing what you can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have made arrangements for some of you to meet in larger rooms so that you can spread out more, and we continue to promote healthy, hygienic practices. I ask you to join me especially in prayer as we ask the Lord to place a layer of protection over us and our fellow churches as we attempt to connect people safely together. And even if you can’t physically connect with us this week, find a way to stay involved with your church family. Watch the services. Make a call to another church member you haven’t seen in a while. Text your Sunday School teacher to let them know you are praying for them. Send a card to your “pew” buddy! Let’s stay connected!
I promise you that you (and others) will be eternally grateful! See you Sunday!