Church BC and AC

Sufficient Grace

“Have I ever had an original thought,” I asked myself. “Probably not,” I replied.

[Coronavirus made my life a lot better. I get to spend more time with my family, do less schoolwork and play more games. However, in some parts it’s made it worse. The old people in my family are acting weird. That’s how Coronavirus has affected my life. Gordon Jeter – 4th Grade]

Why would someone who grew up as a Fundamental Baptist, went to the same Bible College as Jerry Falwell did, graduated from a biblically conservative seminary and has since pastored only theologically conservative, evangelical churches find himself staying for the whole (nearly an hour) of an online Roman Catholic Mass celebrated by Timothy Cardinal Dolan at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral?…Good (long) question!

The short answer is, “the Corona Virus!” As the fourth-grade writer I cited above suggested, it has brought change into our lives. For some of us, and not just “old people,” as he suggests, it has made us, “weird.”
The longer answer is, that I was snooping to see how a church in which a person is told they need to physically “receive communion” in order to maintain relationship with God was going to pull that off. How would they do it and maintain “social distancing” as they claimed they could and would?

The bell rang signifying the time in the service when their belief is that a miracle had taken place. The bread and the wine had been “transformed” so that they were now the sacramentally effective body and blood of Christ. The Cardinal broke the host and ate. He drank the wine. Then, he deftly swept the fallen crumbs from the broken bread into the chalice holding the remaining wine.

Ok, this is what I was waiting for. How will they do this?
I felt cheated in my quest. A lesser functionary then stepped to a microphone and explained that “In times like these, canon law allows for a ‘spiritual’ communion. That is, when worshippers can’t take the actual bread and wine physically, they can ‘take it in their hearts’.”

Now my question was, “Why then, did these folks need to come to this building that Sunday to watch a Cardinal eat and drink the bread and wine?” Evidently they, technically, did not. Sadly, I had received no logistical insights from watching some of the masters at doing “church-service” logistics.

However, I must admit, I still learned something. Apart from the one song, specifically worshipping Mary, I was blessed by the music that all focused on the glory and majesty of God—blessed at least when they remembered to turn off the Cardinal’s microphone so that his singing was muted. Singing the biblical truth of God, in a Roman Catholic Mass was productive even in “Baptistic” me—even when they were singing unfamiliar lyrics to unfamiliar tunes.

But, again, confusedly, I realized I didn’t have to go to that building and be there physically to “participate” in that aspect of worship. I was, after all, watching electronically. Why do we go to church?

You often hear me say, “We can’t go to church. We are the church!” Of course—wink wink—that is a simplistic statement used for clarity and force. Words like “church” have different nuances in different contexts. We still know what someone means when they call a building “a church.” We still think in terms of “going to church” on Sundays.” Maybe thinking long and hard about how an ecclesiastical edifice and a repeated Sunday practice came to be called by the word “church,”—maybe asking how this happened would help me answer the questions that I have been asking myself and the rest of the FBC elders—and they have been asking me:

Why DO we go to church?” And, “Why do we ‘go to church’ in a building we call a ‘church’?

I bet that, as Sunday at 10:30 AM rolls around and one more week of not meeting together goes by, many of you, for at least a moment, ask, “Why do I go to church? Why do I miss it? Or… Why don’t I miss it?

What did “church” mean to me BC? Should it mean the same thing AC? What was church to me before Corona and will church be the same to me after Corona?


An Update from the Elders

The elders’ meeting this week was longer than expected. I guess we have just fallen in love with looking at ourselves on Zoom :).

As we have been doing each time, we shared updated information on “re-opening” from “official” sources. Once again, some of it seems to make sense while other parts are contradictory. Still, we try our best to “Render therefore to all their due….” Sometimes the political noise makes this difficult to discern but it probably wasn’t easy when Paul wrote that either.

We shared stories (not scientific surveys) from FBC folks about wanting to be together at 5590 N. Nevada. Most want to be back together for worship on Sundays and for other gatherings. However, some of that “most” group don’t want to do that under strict “social distancing” restrictions. Others from the “most” only want to gather if we assure them we will absolutely maintain those restrictions.

Contrary to what some of us might feel: Neither group is more righteous than the other. Neither group is less loving or loved. Neither group has more faith than the other.

[In the same “Letter to the Romans” where the Apostle Paul gave that difficult to “suss-out” command for submission to secular authorities, he wrote another command. This one also has, all of the sudden, become more relevant. “Greet one another with a holy kiss!” I’m not kidding when I say this command has become more relevant to me. I’m not arguing for lots of kisses. I am contemplating what this said about the way they met and what this might say to one another. If all this seems like gobbledygook to you, just chalk it off to a gobbledygooky pastor.]

We also prayed for you. We prayed with thanksgiving for the ways we know God is working in your lives. We prayed for the needs we knew about. We prayed for the many needs that remained unspoken. We trust you are doing this praying as well. Interceding in prayer for one another is a real and powerful aspect of our “koinonia” connection in Christ. Whether or not we get to gather and “kiss in holy ways,” we can express our love by praying for one another. It may not offer the same “emotional” uplift as a hug, but who would argue prayer is less potent?

Along with talking and praying, we decided we would not yet set a date for returning to one gathering on Sundays for worship in the building at 5590 N. Nevada Av., Colorado Springs, CO 80918. (Why does he write it that way??) We will continue to worship in the many places and ways that we are—apart from being with one another as a large group in one room, but all still very much connected to one another as the Body of Christ. As we have been, we will continue to pray that we will learn even better the mission of “being Jesus’ church” in a world we are not used to and find to be quite discomfiting.

With that less enjoyable part clarified for another week or two, let me tell you what you probably already know. God is still at work in us and through us as a church on his mission in this world. People who are in despair are being loved. Folks in financial need are being helped. Men and women without Jesus are being told the Good News. Whole families are being set free from bondage to destructive ways. God’s Word is being taught truthfully. God’s people are praising him together as twos and threes or even tens. His people are giving financially to support his work close by and afar. Praise the NAME of the LORD!

In all our weakness and still to be perfected lives and with our less-than-perfect living out being the Body of Christ—living in circumstances we never anticipated—here is where still apart-TOGETHER we sing (you really can sing if you want to click on or “paste” the link):

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Seemingly more mundanely, preparations to return to worship and gatherings in the FBC building are in a beehive of activity made possible by your 2nd Mile Servants. This youngish crew, facilitated by youngish Eli Makaiwi, has been cleaning carpets, painting, even patching some stucco (there is a real stucco artist among us). The grass is cut. The sign on the building is re-touched. Maybe best of all, the building has reacquired its bright red “lipstick” 😉 by the main doors. It always fades over the winter. These young men and women are not serving a building. They are serving the LORD and YOU in their hearts by making a building ready.

We have observed that folks their age never learned from Westley (yes there does seem to be a “t” in his name) in the movie “The Princess Bride” that masks, being so comfortable as they are, would become a common fashion accessory! The “servants” just don’t wear masks while they work. AND they just don’t seem to have the ability to stay six feet apart. They believe in “holy hugs” (and probably “holy kisses” too). They face the Corona Virus differently than some others do. I’ve watched. This is not rebellion in these choice servants. It is simply coming at circumstances differently because they are at a different age.

Seeing this phenomenon moves us toward setting up some smaller, face-to-face high school groups, now, to meet and to study a very helpful series of biblical lessons in living by grace called, The Cure. We plan to utilize some youngish teachers to lead these youngish groups. We will text the high school kids soon, if we can make this happen. However, if you have a high-school aged child and want to make sure they can participate, if and when it begins, please email their info to me at just in case.

May God bless you with the blessings He wisely knows you need and please remember…

His is the NAME above all names. We live to glorify His NAME not our own!

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Everlasting LIFE is a gift…by God’s grace alone, through simple faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!

We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!

In Christ, we are held together even when we are forced to be apart.


An Update from the Elders

Acts 1:6-11

6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.

11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

“How long, O Lord? … Are you really not going to tell us the date?”

We are about two months into the measures designed to face the Corona Virus. I did not expect to spend two months of our lives living this way. That’s not even the most disturbing part for me. What really overloads my thinking is looking toward the future trying to determine some distinct marker, out there somewhere, that will allow us to make wise decisions on returning to “normal.”

I’m not complaining. My life is an easy, comfortable life even under these strange circumstances. I’m describing the odd feeling that I’ve never faced any decision making quite like this as a leader. I desire to know something solid—something factual on which I can pin a decision and when I reach for it, I grasp nothing but air.

These are clearly times of lessons on faith for normally pretty comfortable believers. I have to keep reminding myself God may use us but God is not dependent on us. My process of remembrance goes something like this: Step #1 Why do I need to know what I FEEL I need to know? Step #2 What will happen if I don’t know? Step #3 Can God deal with that if it does happen? If I make it to “Step #3” I can usually smile a bit at my own, natural arrogance.

My reason for bringing this up now is to remind us that the FBC Elders are praying, thinking and deciding not only about the seemingly unanswerable questions that impact them and their families but also for our “church family.” The elders are trying to see and live by “eyes of faith” in decisions that impact all of us. I suspect you can recognize this is not always easy to do these days. We don’t all always agree exactly on “next steps.” Sometimes we even get a bit frustrated. None of this is helped by communicating virtually much of the time. None of the decisions feel very “happy-clappy” wonderful. We even know and understand that some of you may not agree with the outcomes of our deliberations.

In our meeting this week we focused on the potential for re-opening the FBC facilities to groups and to worshipping together on Sundays. Among other things we addressed our ecclesiology (theology from Scripture about being Jesus’ church), authority (theology from Scripture about Jesus’ church relating to the human authorities), medical information and its sources, the logistics of re-opening and finally the emotional aspects of deciding and of re-opening or not.

I’m telling you this, in detail, because I do want you to know the love and the seriousness these guys put into making choices that impact us all. Ultimately, there still is no great “answer” shining through to eyes of flesh or faith. We call again on all of us to trust the Lord and be patient with one another and the circumstances.

In this meeting, we decided it is not yet wise to re-open the facilities. It is probably not helpful to guess at a date that we might. We will re-open them as soon as we conclude it is the wise and thus loving thing to do for our body—when we think it will best demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ and image God to those who are watching.

Meanwhile we are delighted as we see God working to “bubble-up” many different ways for FBC folks to connect in worship, teaching and relationship. Right now, many of these are virtual. If you haven’t yet found a place, please hit the website and dig down into “gatherings.” You will find emails to make contact with groups that are meeting online.

We are also watching and considering a more formal formation of some small groups that would actually meet together for worship and teaching around the city. We think it best to give us all some time to practice social distancing and relationships between those who do “distance” and those who don’t before we start forming these groups. Maybe by the time we learn to lovingly accept one another in that different choice we will not have to do it in these meetings. The temperature is rising so meeting outdoors, with lots of space, is becoming an option as well.

By-the-way, in the “pirate church,” no one has to wait for “orders” from us to meet this way. We ask, if what you do is even informally connected with FBC that you will do it wisely and, for now, do it practicing social distancing even if you are not a fan of that.

You “social-types,” please make it your ministry to think about others who may not reach out very well. Make some phone calls if you can. All of us, these are great days for our witness to salvation in Jesus Christ. Many people are scared as their foundations of prosperity and veneer of control are not looking very healthy. The world—the whole, entire world—can change faster than most ever dreamed. If you know the One who made the whole world the potential for peace in the chaos is far greater. Tell people about Jesus. They need Him just as we do!

Meanwhile, no need to be “staring blankly at the sky” looking for the answer in cloud formations. This “answer” won’t come from there like that. It is time to get on with His mission under the circumstances in which He has left us. He will be with us!

In other news, in case you have wondered, the sale of our campus is still moving forward. The process has slowed as the city approval mechanisms have ground to a halt because of the pandemic. However, it seems the sale will happen. Then again, these days, who really wants to say they know what will happen even a few months from now??!!