These are truly historic times, sisters and brothers. We are privileged to live in a unique time in history, when we – as Americans at least, for the first time in our lives – we are not allowed to gather together for worship and prayer and teaching and commissioning out into the world.
For the first time in our lives, our primary experience of God – our main understanding of our Christian faith – is not centered around a physical building. The assumption of a physical building has even been ingrained in the way that we talk to each other about church – you know, we ask each other questions like,
“Where do you GO to church?”
For the first time in many of our lives, church is not primarily a building we will drive to on Sundays, but rather a Community of Faith in Jesus that transcends our various physical locations. Biblically-speaking, the Church has never been a building. It has always been a people – the people of God – the world-wide followers of Jesus. Church, for each of us, then, is just the smaller local community of believers with whom we worship God and grow in Christ and are sent out by His Spirit into the world to be His ambassadors.
I am NOT excited about this virus. I want it to go away. And I want it to stop wreaking havoc on our world and in people’s lives.
I AM excited about something else, though – and that is how our good and great God is going to work through this tragedy to advance His Kingdom purposes in the world! Remember: what the enemy means for evil, God will turn it into good. That is how good and mighty and faithful He is!
I believe God is doing something in our day that most of us Americans have never seen before – and that is the exponential multiplication of micro-churches.
The age of the micro-church is upon us. We have been living in the age of the mega-church for several decades now, and that’s not a bad thing. God has used large churches to bring many people to Christ and to advance His Kingdom purposes throughout the world – and that’s awesome! And I don’t think the age of mega-churches is coming to an end – BUT – a new age is dawning, for American Christians anyway, and that is the age of the small church, or really, the micro-church.
For now, it is just your home – literally, your household is your new immediate church family for the time being. And – as this virus recedes, and as we are allowed to gather in slightly larger groups, Christians will start to gather with each other, first in homes… then in coffee shops and restaurants… in public parks & community centers… and then, eventually, in large church buildings again.
The mega-churches aren’t going anywhere – and that’s good! They will continue to lead us. They will continue to reach the world, and to provide books and videos and other valuable resources to equip the Body of Christ for ministry around the world.
But in addition to the giant churches, I believe a new era of micro-churches is going to be born out of this unique moment in history.
We are now the #ChurchDispersed – read Acts 8:1-4…
Throughout history, anytime the advancement of the Kingdom of God has been put into the hands of ordinary, faithful, obedient Christians – it has grown and advanced, exponentially! Sadly, the times in history when the Kingdom of God landed in the hands of just a powerful few, it usually stagnated and declined.
So, I am not excited about this virus, or about the ramifications it is having on the medical systems and economics around the world. But I am excited about what God can do out of climates like these – specifically how His Kingdom tends to advance and grow and multiply in times like these.
As a pastor, as an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let me say this to you: WE NEED YOU. The world needs you! And God Himself is calling you – He is calling to all the followers of Jesus around the world – to rise up. To become the representatives of Jesus in your household. To spread life and hope and encouragement among your friends. To be the hands and feet of Jesus to those near you who have practical needs.
Now – more than ever before – the followers of Jesus must take responsibility for two enormous things:
- our own spiritual nourishment, along with that of our household, and
- the advancement of the Kingdom of God in our world.
Your pastors and church leaders are here to support you in this! We are here to shepherd you and facilitate the works of ministry that God is calling you to, and to provide resources to help you do it… And by the way, we’re doing all the same things in our own households and communities, too! But we can’t be everywhere – we’re not supposed to be, and we don’t have to be! – because today, the Christian Church in America is a #ChurchDispersed.
Through YOU, our Lord Jesus has representatives spread out among every neighborhood in this city! Everywhere you are, you carry the Spirit of God within you, the Gospel of Jesus with you, the authority and the values of God’s Kingdom with you. Every person you speak to, every interaction you have with someone online is an opportunity for eternal impact.
YOU CAN DO THIS! I believe you! God believes in you. Your church and your pastors – we believe in you! And furthermore, we authorize you – we commission you to be light-bearers, to be hope-givers, to be Good News-sharers, to be Kingdom-builders – in your homes, in your apartment buildings and neighborhoods…
And eventually, as the normal activities of life resume, your commission – your authorization to be the representatives of Jesus will continue – to your schools and work-places, to the stores and restaurants you visit, to your area parks and ball fields – that everywhere you go, you will carry with you the contagious love of God to a world that is desperately hungry for His healing touch – not only from sickness and disease, but also from heartbreak and loneliness and apathy and hopelessness, from sin and brokenness and separation from God.
You – YOU! – can offer people healing and wholeness through a restored relationship with God through Jesus, our Savior.
You are a vital part of our current #ChurchDispersed! God bless you and the micro-church that is currently sheltering in your home – and may the Spirit of Christ be with you, both today and always!