I’m sure it is the engineer in me that is attracted to all of those quasi-reality television shows that feature old classic cars. I especially like the shows that discover barn-find cars that have been hidden away in storage for two or three decades or in some cases even more. There is something compelling about seeing a rare muscle car that somebody parked in the 70’s or 80’s and walked away and just left it only to see it be rediscovered in the 2020’s.
If the classic barn-find is not covered with a protective cloth then it is often covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt. Usually the car is buried under piles of stuff that have been resting on the hood, roof, and trunk. So these items need to be removed. Often the tires have dry rotted and have long since gone flat. So they might not hold air.
There is a meticulous process for verifying the status of the classic car. VIN numbers are checked against engine block numbers. Any documenting papers are also checked to verify the history and collectability of the car. Old gas needs to be emptied from the gas tank. All engine fluids and filters need to be replaced. A new battery will need to be installed. Then everyone holds their breath to see if the engine has ceased up or will it turn over. Being able to turn over is crucial for bringing life back to this barn-find car.
Science says, “What you don’t use, you lose.” This is to say when we stop using something it immediately begins to atrophy. This is what has happened to us during the two-year pandemic. So many things that were a regular part of life went on hold. Ministries we relied upon ceased. The rules for what it means to live in community with each other changed overnight. Now that we are beginning to emerge from the Covid pandemic we are faced with the task of “restarting the car” that has been sitting idle for more than two years.
Part of the process for restarting up of a church includes a good measure of discernment. Do I really want to keep doing this? Is this particular ministry something I want to continue doing? Maybe I would rather change something out and replace it with something better? Will I even continue to use this “church” for the same tasks or will I now need it for something completely different?
In a post pandemic world we are rediscovering what it means to be the Church in 2022. Like a classic car, certain built-in features and options may no longer be relevant for the Church of the future. We are going to have to reimagine what the mission of the Church will look like moving forward. It might be leaner. It might be smaller. It might have to be more flexible and learn how to adjust to new demands. All this means we most likely will be able “restart the car” without too much effort. But it also means that once we have it up and running again that we might have a few “extra left over parts” that are no longer required to make the car work.
When it comes to restarting a church that has been dormant for the past two years we will discover that some things will be left behind. We will learn what is really necessary and what it is that really want to do moving forward into the future. The mission will remain pretty much the same. We will spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Only now, how we go about spreading the gospel might seem different because the church we are no longer looks very much like what we used to be.
Though as long as it still gets the job done, then I say, “Thanks Be to God!”