The Modern Church
The modern church is characterised by church buildings and worship halls, where a large group of worshippers gathers on the weekend for corporate worship and to listen to a sermon preached from the stage.
While the modern church has its advantages, it also has its pitfalls. The over-emphasis of the stage can cause church ministries to become professionalised – where only an elite few serve while the rest of the members become mere consumers of “spiritual goods and services”. The modern church has produced a large group of fringe members who are not committed to the community life of the church and constantly church hop to find a church that better suits their needs and preferences.
When the pandemic first hit the world in 2020, it silenced the modern church. Believers could no longer gather in a large group setting. The worship halls were empty and even when some of us could return, we could not sing like before. I believe that the COVID19 pandemic is God’s divine disruption for the modern church. The pandemic hit the pause button on the modern church and caused us to rethink what church and worship truly are.
What truly is Church?
Is Church a place to “go to”? Is Church a weekend activity comprising stage-led and AV-dependent corporate worship and pulpit preaching? Is worship only singing? Is Church only church when it is in a large group setting?
Perhaps we have forgotten that the Church is not a place or a programme but the people of God gathered together to fulfill the Great Transformation (Eph 4:11-13) and the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Perhaps we have become so accustomed to seeing church as a place we go to every weekend to attend a worship service programme. We have mistaken the Church for her forms.
During the pandemic, God led us as a church to shift our focus from “centering on the stage” to “centering on the community” and from a mindset of “going to church” to “being the church”. We engaged in missional initiatives and good works. In the meantime, we decentralized our weekend Congregational Worship Gatherings and gathered instead in Small Group Churches (SGCs) to break bread, worship and feast on His Word. We thank God for using SGCs to sustain the body life of YCK Chapel through the pandemic days.
Post-COVID YCK Chapel – Church 2.0
As early as January 2021, the elders of the church had been seeking the Lord’s direction concerning what a post-COVID YCK Chapel would look like. We went through a process of consultation with the SGLs and core leaders of the church in April to Sept 2021.
We believed that God does not intend the SGC to be an interim measure for the pandemic, but to become a key environment of our church life going forward. It was therefore proposed that our weekend gatherings will alternate between Congregational Worship Gatherings and Small Group Church Worship Gatherings (see Figure 1 below).
Why Church 2.0?
- We believe Covid-19 is God’s divine disruption to help us as a church to reconsider our priorities: From focusing on going to church to being the church and from centering on the stage to centering on the community.
- We affirm our church’s DNA as a church of the priesthood of all believers, and we desire to avoid becoming a modern church that is corporatised, where ministry is professionalised and where members become mere consumers of “spiritual goods and services”.
- SGC facilitates community, there are more opportunities for members to connect with one another and to serve. The SGC can be the primary arena for members to discover, exercise and grow in their spiritual gifts, to raise disciple makers and servant-leaders for the whole church.
- SGC inculcates the quality of nimbleness and flexibility in how church ministry can be conducted in response to movement restrictions imposed by a pandemic or other circumstances.
- SGC has missional potential. It is more agile to respond to needs, missional efforts and gospel opportunities around them.
- While we recognize the pitfalls of modern church (cosmetic, professionalized, consumeristic and passive Christianity), we also do not reject the value of the modern church in terms of resource utilisation, celebration of unity and corporate worship.
Transiting to the Endemic Stage
As our nation transits into the endemic stage, churches once again are allowed to gather in large groups to conduct their religious activities. In view of this new backdrop, it is necessary for us to again consider our reasons for Church 2.0 and discern the way forward. Therefore, further communication and consultation will be done with church members. The church Elders will be visiting the SGCs in July and August for a time of dialogue and listening to feedback. In addition, there will also be a special prayer meeting held in church on 20th August. All members are invited to attend.
As we discern the Lord’s direction together as a church, we must first examine our own beliefs. We must differentiate between spirit and forms and between fundamentals and traditions. We must be willing to put aside our personal preferences and delve deeply into God’s purposes for His Church.
Ultimately, Church 2.0 is about organizing ourselves in a way that can help us best be Church and to center on being a faith, loving and shining community.
by Pastor Rick Toh