Going Deeper with the Message:
Even Now, God is at Work
by: Ben Biles
On Sunday, Josh talked about Jesus’ faithfulness in building his community of believers despite adverse conditions. Though the early church experienced persecution because of their faith in the risen Jesus Christ, the gospel was spread gradually throughout the world by their enduring faith. In 2020, we’re living through one of the most devastating global pandemics in history with 19 million cases worldwide currently and 5 million in the US alone. Yet, despite this, the church has continued to share the Gospel and reflect our God to our world.
Here at The Ridge, we’re hearing and seeing amazing stories of individuals, families, and groups continue to grow in their relationship with God and with each other. We see that Jesus is continuing to build his church even in the midst of a pandemic. God is not caught off-guard by COVID-19. He has not put his plan on pause. His message of salvation and love for all humanity remains the same and continues to shine forth. We see that, despite the circumstances, God is actively working at The Ridge locally just as He is actively working in the thousands of churches globally.
Yet, for The Ridge and similar churches to be effective in their mission, individuals and families need to realize the importance of community in their lives. The writer of Hebrews explains, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24–25). Being a Christian was never meant to be something you do on your own, for we are often distracted and discouraged, eventually becoming complacent in our faith. Rather, we grow best in the context of a believing community where we are able to be strengthened and encouraged in our faith. Though we cannot meet together in the same capacities as before, we are finding other avenues in order to safely grow in relationship with God together.
This is why we want to offer The Ridge at Home as another option for you and your family. We have long understood that the church is not the building itself, but instead, it is the community of believers that seek to know God and worship him with other believers. We encourage everyone to consider opening your own home for others to come together in worship or to find a home to do the same. We guarantee that when you are a part of a community that worships together, God will build your faith and impact your life in incredible ways.
Living out the Message:
By Ben Biles
I remember when COVID-19 was first declared a global pandemic in March. As we sheltered-in-place, we naturally wondered when this would all be over. At the time, some experts were predicting that the pandemic might last into August. Well now we’re halfway through August and the pandemic is still far from over. In the same way, when we closed the church building in March, we were hopeful that we would reopen in August. With current safety concerns, we are still unable to open in good faith.
This is why we want to offer The Ridge at Home as an opportunity to worship God with others in the safety and comfort of your own home. Some people might think, “But this isn’t real church. Real church is worshiping with hundreds of other people altogether in the same place.” Yet 35 years ago, The Ridge started as a small group of people meeting together in a home and worshiping God. Over the years, God moved through us to reach more and more people and we grew. Needing more space, we moved to the dorms at WVU, and after that, the CAC building on campus. Soon, we rented a daycare building and stayed there for 10 years. After that, we quickly outgrew our first building on Point Marion Road, and we built and moved into the Cheat Lake location. But it all started at a home.
The truth is that God isn’t interested in physical buildings. He is interested in building communities of believers. He delights in the love and fellowship shared between his people as they meet to worship him. We see this in Acts 2 where believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” The important thing was that the believers were together. They ate together, worshiped together, and prayed together in their homes. This was real church. When we are together, God is faithful to strengthen our relationships in Christ. This happens in a large building and this happens in homes.
Because we are unable to meet in our building, we want you to consider meeting in a home as an option for worshiping together. You can open your own home to other believers and simply invite them to watch our online service together. Or you can find someone in your area that is opening their home and join in worship there. Whichever way you choose, we know that when we are together God moves in our relationships and grows our love for Himself and each other.