The word “status” is loaded with many connotations. “What’s your status?” could be a medical enquiry. It could be a question regarding relationship. It could refer to one’s social or vocational position. It could refer to a measurement of well-being regarding a community, business, or some other entity. It could also refer to one’s social media identity. For the purpose of this article, I have in mind the last two for, when it comes to our church, they are intricately connected.
Yesterday was a heart-wrenching day for the Lötters and for our church family. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us awoke this morning with an emotional hangover. But it was also a heart-warming day, in many ways.
I only recently learned what “status” means with reference to WhatsApp. My wife and one of my daughters ventured to educate me into the twentieth century. (I know it’s the 21st century but, hey, don’t rush me!)
Anyway, yesterday I asked Jill for help and she put Martin Lötter’s picture as my “status.” Later in the day, I scrolled through the statuses of others and was so blessed to see pictures of Martin all down the list. “Thank God for our church!” I praised.
Seeing those many pictures of Martin’s smiling face not only re-enforced my appreciation for this man; it also reminded me how blessed I am to be a member of Brackenhurst Baptist Church. The “shared status” was an indication of our spiritual status as a congregation.
The outpouring of care and practical concern for the Gotte family, for the Lötter family in recent days, and in numerous other Christ-honouring actions throughout lockdown is testimony to the love of Christ that we hold in common. It’s as though we take seriously the injunction, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)! In other words, I think our status is fairly good when it comes to congregational health.
I read a report yesterday of the general condition of churches in the United States. According to the Barna Report, one in three professing Christians has stopped attending church altogether (online, etc.) during the pandemic. Another one third are “church hopping” via live stream (that is, “attending” churches rather than their own), and the final third are still committed to their own local church. Though there is a lot that could be said about such a report (for example, this shows the general apathy in the USA concerning covenantal local church commitment), it does highlight that lockdown is putting to test the seriousness of one’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It is highlighting the status of one’s spiritual condition. But, generally speaking, we as a congregation should be encouraged. We are a long way from perfect, for sure; but we are persevering, nonetheless.
Sure, we can all share stories of how we have been disappointed, even hurt, by others in the church over the years, and some of the pain has been deep. Nevertheless, we can also testify that there has been a corporate perseverance in faith, love, and good works. And in these days of increasing trial, I believe the Lord is pleased with what he is seeing. If he “posted” our status, it might read, “I know your works… I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word, and not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). Martin would certainly smile with us about that.
Persevering with you,