Who's Influencing the Church?
WHO’S INFLUENCING THE CHURCH?
Pastor Scott Price
Lifegate Community Church, Michigan
Like many of you have experienced, we received a “Stay at Home” order in the state of Michigan that initially extended to the Monday after Easter. It then was extended to the end of April. In order to worship with our church family, our leadership team decided to livestream our worship services on Facebook Live for the very first time. But what about Resurrection Sunday?
As our leadership team discussed the situation, a drive-in service wasn’t going to be a good option for our church. At the same time, I felt a burden to find a way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ together. My wife Dawn mentioned she had heard that The River Church in Faribault, Minnesota, was planning a parade with other churches in their community to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. As I prayed about it, the idea of a parade of cars, decorated to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ, grew larger in my heart.
I envisioned a “Resurrection Celebration Parade” with other churches as being a way we could all come out of our houses, much like the Israelites did after the death angel passed over their homes in Exodus 12. Because the blood of lambs had been placed on the doorframes of their homes, they were spared the loss of their firstborn sons. The parade offered us an opportunity to demonstrate our faith, believing that as we came out of our homes, we were covered with the blood of Jesus in the midst of a pandemic! I also pictured the parade as being a way to testify that just as Jesus overcame death and came out of the tomb, we too have been raised with Christ and are coming out of the tombs of fear and isolation to declare that Jesus is alive! The next steps of action would be to inquire about having the parade in our city and inviting area pastors and churches to participate.
When I contacted our Police Chief, he said the parade would be a violation of our governor’s Executive Order. Even when I assured him that we would be following the order by staying in our cars and practicing social distancing, he said it would involve “unnecessary traveling,” so we could not hold the parade in the city. After emailing our State Attorney General’s office, our district’s State Representative, our State Senator, and having conversations with our State Senator and County Sheriff, our Sheriff said that he did not believe our parade was a violation of the Executive Order, and he gave us his full support to follow a 10-15 mile loop around our city on county roads.
I also contacted twelve pastors in our area. Six pastors said they would be willing to talk with their churches about participating in the parade. When it was all said and done, one church’s leadership team decided to follow the governor’s Stay at Home Order, four churches had no one who wanted to participate, and one church fully participated. So on Resurrection Sunday, 23 cars from two churches paraded on the outlying roads of our county, blowing their horns and displaying messages that joyfully celebrated and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ.
Following the parade, we saw several posts on Facebook where people expressed how they thought the parade was such a good idea. One woman posted, “This ABSOLUTELY made my Easter!!! We watched church on a screen, but we’re sad to not be able to participate in worship. You all found a tangible way to worship and share the GOOD NEWS!! Thank you for filling our hearts today. Happy tears.”
As I’ve reflected on the challenges that surfaced with seeing the parade take place and yet how important it is for Christ’s Church to collectively celebrate and proclaim His resurrection, the question that has come to mind is “Who’s influencing the Church?” At a time when more people gather in local churches than at any other time of the year, did the message of “being safe,” through Stay at Home orders and the media, influence the Church to “stay in,” OR did the message of hope, through Christ’s resurrection and His call to preach the gospel everywhere, influence the Church to “go out?” Where is the place that we walk in wisdom and faith rather than fear and self-preservation? What is the Holy Spirit trying to reveal to the Church of Jesus Christ about who’s influencing us?
In Mark 8:35, Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.”
When Christ’s Church comes to the place where we embrace and act upon Jesus’ admonishment to lose our lives for His sake and the gospel, I believe that is when we will truly be saved from this pandemic and we will see the eternal salvation of others!