Church buildings are shuttered from the public. Only a camera and a pastor stand in the sanctuary on Sundays. Aisles are clear from people awaiting in communion lines. Living rooms are empty from the weekly gatherings.
But nothing can stop the Gospel’s connection through area churches, its people and those looking for a home.
“I think we are realizing that the church isn’t just the gathered but the scattered church around the city,” Austin Edwards, lead pastor at CityLight Lincoln, tells KLIN News. “I think we’re realizing that more and more becasue we’re forced into it.”
CityLight Lincoln is one of several examples where COVID-19 has forced people who are searching for Jesus Christ to scatter.
“Again we’re trying to get away from this idea that Sunday is the epitome of what church is and say ‘no the church is a people, not a people in a building but a people throughout the city’.”
Church is commonly thought of a place to gather on Sunday mornings – full of music, conversations and scripture readings. But now, the church is changing in unprecedented ways.
“Normally the biggest impediment for people to come to church or get in a community is time,” Edwards says. “Now people have a surplus of it. People are at home and are working different hours. They have time and see people tune in and be encouraged.”
Edwards says families can view services with worship music on their Youtube Page during their live stream. He says people meet via Zoom during the the week instead of inside each other’s homes.
CityLight Lincoln has three campuses anchored by a central location near 27th and O street. At that location, there is a unique opportunity since it serves UNL’s student population. Even with the students gone, there is discipleship and growth.
“A ton of our college students are joining us during out live stream, which is amazing,” he says. “Our staff is ZOOM calling them on a weekly basis, checking in and doing virtual city groups.”
Easter is a common holiday where people who don’t normally attend gatherings find themselves in pews. With the holiday days away, that won’t be the case this year, but even in this season of uncertainty, Edwards says God still provides.
“We’ve had so many questions about tuning in,” he says. “People are hungry. They are wondering about so many things. It’s the perfect time to have spiritual conversations. We have actually seen God stir up a hunger with people that don’t come to church.”
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.