A Resilient Church

A Resilient Church

Read Matthew 16:13-19


“The Church is in God’s keeping.  We do not have the right to be anxious about it.  We have our Lord’s word that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  The crux of the matter is that we have been chosen to be the bearers of good news for the whole world.”  Lesslie Newbigin, a renowned missionary in the Church of Scotland in the mid-twentieth century, shared these words in a series of notes on the nature and mission of the Church.  He reminds us of the resiliency that is built into the Church, which is Christ’s body in the world.

It goes without saying that we live in anxious times.  I don’t need to name for you those things which have gnawed at us and kept us awake at night for nearly the last year. Recent months have only exacerbated that anxiety with news of more reckless, hateful, and harmful behaviors that have pitted brothers and sisters in Christ against one another, human being against human being, and the truth against the lie.

In Matthew 16, we hear the story of Peter recognizing who Jesus truly is, “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” to which Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because…my Father who is in heaven has shown this to you.  I tell you that you are Peter (which means rock), and I will build my church on this rock, and the gates of hell will not be able to stand against it.”

There are many things about which we are worrying right now.  Jesus reminds us, however, that one thing we should not worry about is the future of the church.  Doubtless you have joined me in your concerns for the vitality and the future of the church as we have come to live it here at Front Street this last year.  The reality of the pandemic has caused us to slow down, set some things aside, cease doing some things altogether, and discover new ways to practice loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

But does that mean Front Street and other communities of faith stand on the brink?  No!  These times mean rather that we need to learn how to be nimble and creative.  The church’s future, which is bound to the future of this world, depends on the boundless, persistent love of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and not on our efforts to please God, to fill pews, or to reach a viewership on YouTube.  If, according to Jesus, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, which is his body, then how would or could those circumstances that are unique to our moment now?

Yes things continue to change, and you may have lost some interest in the church because of how different and “lessened” things may now seem.  But the Lord has given over to your care gifts and graces that may be employed even now to reach out to your sisters and brothers who are part of our family here at Front Street.  God is calling you to live what you say you believe even now.  There’s no need to wait for things to get back to “normal,” no need to kick the can down the road so you can jump back in when what you were used to becomes available again.  Because there’s no better time than now to embody the love of Christ to others, no better time to be good news than in the midst of troubling times, no better way to show the resiliency of Christ’s Church than to continuing to live your faith now.

As we continue discovering how to be nimble and creative in this season, I challenge you (yes, YOU) to pray and ask how God might be calling you to step out in faith, to lead, to create spaces where we as Front Street UMC can gather, grow, and share the love of God right now.  Let us know where God is nudging you.

-Pastor Patrick

Last Published: February 19, 2021 11:33 AM
Empowered by Extend, a church software solution from