The Church has left the building!
During these times, where many of us are at home, desperately trying to figure out many things – like how to work in a house full of people, or the optimum time to book a food delivery slot!
One thing many of us are also considering, is how to do church during this time of lockdown?
How do we make church happen when we can’t gather?
This question has the potential to reshape our churches long after this ‘lock down’ is over.
Let’s consider more closely, the two main expressions of church we talk about with our Kairos Connexion network:
Gathered – Larger church meetings, in a building.
Scattered – Small groups or missional communities and our daily interactions with those around us.
At the start of this year, Nic Harding was holed up (out of choice!) in a country cottage writing a chapter for his next book BRIDE…becoming the church Jesus dies for and is coming back for.
This is a sentence he wrote, way before Coronavirus was even on our radars in the UK.
‘Until the church, and world we live in, are brought to their knees through persecution, national instability, war, disease, or economic collapse – we will not see the same type of breakthrough”
Now we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, will this time of ‘breakthrough’ come to pass?
As Roy Crown recently titled one of his e-mails – – The Church has left the building!
Many of us have had experiences of ‘house church’ or some type of missional church, which was exciting, dynamic, new (for us anyway!) and one which both energised and inspired us to share the love of Jesus with many.
To include them in our homes, and share small church gatherings in our homes.
Like many of us have at some point experienced, Nic had his first experience of church in the house when he was 19 in Amsterdam:
“We lived in community, growing as disciples and worshipping together, then going out and accosting unexpecting bystanders to share the gospel with them. People gave their lives to Christ, it was wonderful! We met on a small canal boat in Amsterdam, that experience shaped my desire for radical church for the rest of my life”
From there, Nic kept looking for a certain type of church – the same atmosphere, the same way of sharing life together and growing together.
“Those early days of church planting are so exciting, exhilarating almost. But they often then move towards larger gatherings of church, But in doing so we lost some of that zeal – as we moved to a bigger expression of church it felt like we lost some of that passion.”
Most of us have a default as to how church should happen, even for those of us who have never been part of an emerging church movement, we still tend to gravitate towards larger types of ‘gathered church’.
What effect has this shift to a more gathered church had?
That missional flame, that radical lifestyle and enthusiasm has for the most part, been snuffed out.
‘Yesterday’s radical, Becomes today’s conventional, Becomes tomorrow’s traditional.’
We somehow have to keep that radical burning flame alive, even as we move to a more established church. If we look to Abraham as an example, he was looking for something else, he refused to settle, he wanted to move towards the promised land.
In Psalm 84 – it says ‘blessed are those whose heart is set on pilgrimage’
It’s human nature to settle, and right now we don’t have that, it’s making many of us anxious.
During these times, as church leaders we must take time to listen to the prophetic voices among our number, where is God directing us, where is he taking us as his people?
So, the question hangs in the air;
How do we create that balance between those large gathered expressions of church, and the ‘scattered’ – which seem to keep that passion and radical discipleship alive?
Our gathered element of church, scripturally has its place, it is biblical. However, we often find that growth and making disciples happens in it’s scattered form. We have to keep asking ourselves why we still place so much emphasis on our larger gatherings?
The question we have to keep asking is: How does our gathered function serve our core purpose as a church?
One very quick and easy way of seeing where our priorities as a church lie, is where we direct our resources. Both people/time resources, and financial resources. If we take the time to sit down, and really consider where our resources are used most, this often shows where our priorities are. Many of us spend up to 90% of our people resources and financial resources on our gathered meetings – which happen ONCE per week. This leaves a mere 10% for the other 6 days of the week!
What would it look like if 50% of your resources went into ‘the scattered’ church?
It would be a game changer!
How would you use those resources to support the scattered? Many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin with this. It’s difficult to fathom, as we are all very hardwired to consider our gathered expressions of church, as the main event!
So what questions can we be asking ourselves during this time of being unable to meet in our gathered form?
– What is your vision? Be specific!
– Does this vision involve multiplication?
– How can you rekindle that radical way of following Jesus and grow your scattered expressions of church, in an effective, sustainable way?
We also need to consider why multiplication is important and what multiplication looks like?
- It’s rooted in scripture – talked about in Acts 6:7 and Acts 9:31 – ‘ The gospel of the Lord continues to grow and be multiplied.’
- Everyone is talking about Jesus in the workplace, how Jesus has influenced their lives!
- New expressions of church being planted.
- Ultimately – the gospel going viral!
We also need to ask ourselves, very honestly – how are we personally making disciples?
It comes down to each one of us making disciples, with the expectation that they will also become a disciple maker. It can’t be one generational. It needs to carry on for multiplication to happen.
By shifting from gathered to scattered – we could see that happen again!
If we want to see this change, we need to make those decisions now.
Many people are either captivated by Sunday gatherings, OR held captive by them. Many people we talk to, feel held captive by gathered expressions of church, but are unsure how to move forward.
Now is the time to consider what we actually want! We have a unique moment in time right now, where we can think about how the church would look with a focus on the scattered.
What ideas do you have?
- Figure out what you want to change
- Pray lots, both individually and as a community
- Contact your leaders and let them know the change you want to see
To listen to the podcast this blog entry was based on, click here