NICHOLS: This question is probably ricocheting throughout the culture because of the Covid-19 lockdown. It is easy for bad habits to settle in and take root. I think we will see in the coming months that people are not going back to church, which some pastors have already reported. This is an extreme weakness for the American church especially. We have always had a weak ecclesiology in American evangelicalism.
We cannot lose sight of the importance of the means of grace, which are the preaching of the Word and the offering of the sacraments. We also need to know the importance of praying and singing together, what we call “genuine fellowship.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a wonderful book called Life Together. It is a short text written from his experience in an underground seminary that was ultimately shut down by the Gestapo. I challenge anybody to read that book and then say, “I can take or leave church.” If we come to grips with what that book says and what Paul says, we would understand that church is not a luxury but a necessity for us.
BINGHAM: I think that the lockdown produced a greater desire in some people to return to church because they had to livestream the service. They decided to come back and be a part of the fellowship of God’s people and sit under the Word of God. However, another segment of people decided that the church makes no difference in their lives. So, the lockdown separated evangelicalism into two distinct groups. I think that if the lukewarm middle disappears, it would be a good thing.
NICHOLS: Winnowing can be a good thing, and we see that happen. The church is best served when it is genuine, which is what we love about the Puritans. They took their calling as Christians to be members of the church seriously and would often talk about“visible sainthood.” So, Christians should carefully consider these things.