Over the past month, our routines have been been changed drastically due to COVID19/Coronavirus pandemic. The term “social distancing” has become the current overused catch phrase.
Churches have also been affected by social distancing as they have stopped meeting in their church buildings and moving to having services online. I have monitored various responses and there are some who are not too happy about the pressure of churches not gathering together in person. Some have even challenged the government’s infringement upon their rights but it is really a matter of keeping people safe and healthy. The same has been true for other public events such as concerts, festivals and professional sports.
I spent a significant part of my previous life involved with a church as I was in the routine of attending Sundays and midweek services. The routine actually drove me into depression and frustration as I would leave feeling worse than I did when I arrived. I had to make a change.
As painful as this might be for some to believe, you don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God. This crisis could really be a good thing for believers as they now have to change how they respond. It really isn’t that difficult. Here are ten tips I have experienced that could help you if you are having anxiety about not being able to go to church:
Tip #1 – It takes discipline
One thing that is the most important part in surviving without going to church is having strong self-discipline. You have to develop your own way of having church on your own. It isn’t easy but you can survive.
Tip #2 – Find Your Way of Reading/Studying the Bible
I know this sounds boring but reading and studying the Bible is important. It doesn’t have to be a dull discipline. There are many ways of doing this. Listening to the Bible is a good way and even the dramatic versions give you an exciting new way to experience the Bible. There are also many apps that can help you with studying the Bible. A good app I would recommend is one named “Got Questions” which answers hundreds of questions about God and the Bible. They feature a random question/answer every day.
Tip #3 – Build your music library
Download your favorite music and always look for new songs that will encourage you. I often like to sample new music in the iTunes Store. Always look for new songs to refresh you and renew your outlook.
Tip #4 – Maintain a consistent prayer life.
Personally, this is the most difficult thing to maintain. It isn’t that I don’t want to pray but it is always difficult to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back. It can be quite a challenge. I also don’t want it to always be a constant list of petitions. One way to maintain consistency with prayer is to change it up. Make each day a different prayer such as “Thankful Thursdays” or develop prayer themes each day that will keep your prayers fresh. The most important thing is to keep your focus in your prayer life.
Tip #5 – Be Quiet
One of the disciplines that I learned from a week I spent at a monastery was the incredible practice of being quiet. Just sitting quiet before the Lord for a few minutes is something that will change you. Of course, in a world full of noise, it can be difficult to find a place to be quiet. I recommend the mornings if you can get up a few minutes early. If sitting quietly challenges you, try setting an alarm. Dedicate yourself to spend a certain amount of time being quiet. Believe me – it isn’t as easy as you think but it does an amazing job of calming you.
Tip #6 – Subscribe to Podcasts
If you have a preacher, Bible teacher or program you enjoy, subscribe to their podcast. I have a few that I listen to daily. If you don’t like them you can always unsubscribe. My favorites are In Touch with Charles Stanley, A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, Rick Godwin and Fighting for the Faith.
Tip #7 – Look for ways to help others
You don’t have to go to church to help others. Unfortunately people tend to do it in church with a return of getting some form of recognition or credit. When you are doing church alone, you can really experience the true blessing of helping others. Look for ways to help others. Be kind to people and be approachable.
Tip #8 – Find Innovative Ways to Do Church
The key to having your own church without others is to keep things fresh. Don’t get stuck into a routine. Change things up and look for new ways to keep spiritually fit. Watch new Christian movies, go to concerts or whatever you find that will encourage you. One thing that I found that was innovative was when I was given some Virtual Reality Goggles. I am able to watch videos and even attend church feeling that I am there in person. It’s a whole new experience.
Tip #9 – Keep a Journal
Writing is a good way to keep focused. Start keeping a journal. There are no rules for doing it. You can write prayers, poetry or scriptures. A good idea to keep sharp with your Bible study is to write a Bible verse then explain how it applies to you and your life.
Tip #10 – Do something every day
Since this isn’t church you can do for two hours on Sunday, you can do this everyday. Although you may not be able to do everyone of these tips every day, you can do something. If you are experiencing life without church for the first time, this is your chance to do something new.
Don’t panic about not being able to go to church. This really isn’t a bad thing to experience. This will teach you that you can make it on your own. Believers need to be self-sufficient and not put so much emphasis on attending a church. Honestly, a lot of times the problem with church is people. There are some difficult personalities to deal with which can distract us from our relationship with God. This is a good time to take a break from those peer pressures of church and focus on what truly is important.
Not to be a prophet of doom and gloom, but there may be a time when people can’t meet in church. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to function without church now? This is a good practice for any “end times” scenario that has been prophesied to come in the future.
The church is people – not a building. If you are a believer then you ARE the church. People focus way too much on the building and group than they do on the real purpose of a church. This time of social distancing is a good time to do that.