Updated: Apr 15, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis will be defined by communities sacrificing to protect the vulnerable, churches finding community outside their buildings, and toilet paper having more value than we ever imagined.
COVID-19 is pushing the church out of its buildings and forcing them to find creative ways to minister. Through technology, churches are leaning on teaching rather than the worship experience. Opening the way for discipleship to happen on a massive scale.
A new documentary, Sheep Among Wolves II , has named the Iranian church as the fastest growing church in the world. It's lead by women and owns no buildings. The growth has been attributed to turning the American approach of evangelism on its head. Instead of win and disciple, the Church in Iran disciples first. They teach nonbelievers how to worship, pray, and read the Bible.
The past couple weeks have been encouraging and exciting to see the church creatively connect with
More people have viewed the shared videos than have attended the buildings. Those who feel uncomfortable attending a church building have joined in services and studies shared online. There's a need, a need for the church to leave its walls.
Jesus gave the command to make disciples. Disciples dedicate their lives to the teaching of Jesus. Often the faith of Christianity has been filtered down to a decision and baptism. Churches have encouraged people to attend in order to be discipled. Attending at the building involves a lot of volunteer hours to keep the building and programs maintained. Often, parishioners devote most of their time to the building and programs.
Authenticity and growth are lost in the added business of the building and programs. Buildings require effort and time. Imagine using technology to connect and teach . . . that's it. Connect and teach, devoting valuable time to connecting with members of the community and challenging one another to grow as the church dedicates itself to living out the teachings of Jesus.
Nehemiah returned to Israel to rebuild the walls (Nehemiah . . . in the Bible). He is celebrated for stepping out in faith.He is going to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra also wanted to build the community of faith by obeying the laws and honoring the sabbath. Before both these men, Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple. It was a shadow of the former glory built by Solomon. They wanted to rebuild Israel to its former glory. However, it didn't fix the hearts of the people. Nehemiah and others believed the wall and temple were the keys to return Israel's glory, or return to the kingdom of David.
It didn't happen.
They neglected the key to success, God. They equated the temple with the presence of God. The City with the glory of God. Obedience with the will of God.
Everything on the outside.
The people didn't change their hearts. The obedience, temple and walls didn't change the hearts of the people. Our hearts are only going to be changed through discipleship; acceptance of God's gift and the dedication to Christ's teaching.
Something happened when Christ gave His life. The power of sin over us was broken. Imagine, today we live in a freed space, we experience what those in the days of Nehemiah only hoped for. We must be careful not to bind ourselves with buildings and programs.
We have been sent to make disciples.