As the church emerges from the impact of COVID, how will it reimagine its mission? With all the disruption COVID caused comes an opportunity for congregations. How will the local church organize itself, engage with the neighborhood and world, and offer pastoral care to a planet dealing with the significant issues heightened during COVID? Returning to old patterns of behavior is a wasted chance. A theological opportunity for the church lies in rediscovering the classical aim of leisure.
The early church during the first two centuries offers us an understanding of leisure quite unique from the dominant expressions of leisure, such as Greek schole, Roman otium, and the Jewish Sabbath. By exploring early Christian practices, we can find insights about leisure for mission today. These practices include setting aside a single day of the week to worship, sharing in a common meal open to all, and, following the meal, incorporating into nonwork time care and engagement in the health and vitality of the community in the name of Jesus Christ. The followers of Jesus were consistent, if extraordinary, in meeting weekly, on the Lord’s Day, to worship, eat together, and go out into the neighborhood to live out their faith.