After six months in virtual exile, we returned to live, indoor worship at Good Shepherd this past Sunday.
In preparation for it, I didn’t feel nervous. Or excited. Or scared. I almost felt … nothing. I now realized that was a defense mechanism to guard against any disappointment. In retrospect, however, my great feeling is one of gratitude. Here’s why:
One. The Mood Was Joyful. I think my favorite moment on Moss Road was when Devin Tharp led us in prayer at the conclusion of What A Beautiful Name. He was weepy and exuberant at the same time … and the people responded in kind. They applauded for him and for God simply when he stood up. He embodied the mood of the people … so glad to be in presence of God’s living, breathing community.
Two. The Planning Was Superb. I can say that because I had nothing to do with that element. Parking lot instructions, greeting processes, and seating arrangements all flowed with with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of impact.
Three. The People Were Cooperative. No one objected to the mask requirement (I think the White House PLUS Cam Newton testing positive had something to do with that!). People allowed our First Impressions team to seat them. Folks didn’t linger in the lobby afterwards. All in all, they did their best to keep worship both lively and safe.
Four. Our Church’s Impact During Pandemic Was Greater Than We Knew. I met a few folks who told me, “I started watching y’all during Quarantine and decided this would be my church now.” Wow. So grateful for our Worship Arts team who consistently put together a high quality experience every Sunday. They really harnessed technology in a way that could grow people’s living relationship with Jesus.
Five. We Know Many Are Not Yet Ready To Return … And That’ OK. As you might suspect, we had far fewer people at our campuses than we were getting in January and February. That’s one reason we made every effort to speak directly to the camera at points during worship and preaching (I have to admit, I had gotten used to preaching directly to it over the last six months). We realize that for some it will be quite a while until they return. That’s why we continue to make “Good Shepherd At Home” and our online experience a priority.
However you connect with Good Shepherd, we’re delighted to join you in inviting all people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ.