EVELYN ROBERTSON TC ’15
The ‘snowpocalypse’ brought on by winter storm Nemo this weekend left churches in New Haven unable to hold services on Sunday morning. I’ve been attending City Church, a church plant barely 18 months old, since the start of the academic year. They meet in the auditorium of the Co-op High School on College Street and, on special occasions (like Christmas), in Toad’s Place.
The church has been a blessing to my faith this year, even when I’m less than consistent about attending. They approach serving the Lord with an infectious energy and fervor, and they have demonstrated an inspiring trust in God’s providence in overcoming the struggles faced by new churches (how to hold baptisms in a high school cafeteria, for instance).
There is a youthfulness and urgency to this church that I haven’t seen in a church environment before. Their emphasis on worship and community within the church is more serious than similar efforts I’ve seen in other churches. So even when the recent blizzard dropped three feet on us this weekend, the City Church team still pushed to bring the church together.
Lead paster Justin recorded a video sermon from his home office on Saturday night, on a selection in Romans 12. He opened by encouraging us to ‘have church on the couch,’ and to take the opportunity to bond spiritually with the people closest to us, the people we live with. In the previous week’s message he had emphasized building relationships with other Christians, and how getting involved in the church community is a great first step. He also talked about the phenomenon of picking and choosing from church podcasts to find a sermon that suits you each week, and how listening to a podcast each week isn’t the same as attending church. Check out the podcast of that sermon, it’s great.
Clearly, theological education is one purpose of sermons. But another purpose is the building up of the church community in fellowship. A sermon gives the community a shared spiritual experience that offers opportunities for discussion and learning in a group setting. Listening to a podcast alone, or studying the bible by yourself, while both are valuable (even necessary) spiritual practices, neither affords the kind of community growth that sermons do.
The obstacle that the blizzard posed to the church community’s fellowship couldn’t be solved with a podcast. Justin and the City Church team did an admirable job sharing their message with the congregation. Just because the doors of the church (well, high school) were closed this week, doesn’t mean that we’re off the hook for meeting together in fellowship. Even if there are just a few of us on the common room couch.
A church isn’t a building, a church is a people. And each of the relationships we build within the body of believers, in our fellowship groups at Yale, and in the churches we attend in New Haven, builds the church for the glory of God. That is what organized churches should be doing – building the relationships between believers.
Justin’s video sermon is linked below.