The following are excerpts from a longer piece posted on my personal web portal.
As followers of Jesus we are now being called to a separate peace and a new community. No more business as usual…
As reactionary as it may sound, I believe we have come to the time of ecclesia, that is the calling out of an assembly. The old American church has been too dependent on the culture in which it was formed. That culture, in ways both subtle and obvious, is turning against it.
When the pandemic is over let’s not go back to church … let’s go forward.
What if we use this “compulsory Sabbath” to explore an idea: “vine churches,” small, simple mobile fellowships connected to larger churches, or even to other simple churches of similar kind? They would start virtually, but when the pandemic is over, they will come out of this voluntary isolation and meet face-to-face.
The quarantine experience may very well leave a legacy of church life that surprises us. Maybe this lockdown can be the incubator for new churches—vine churches—that are small, agile, and significantly, everywhere.
What if, after the quarantine ends, a church of 500 could emerge as a church made up of 50 interconnected small churches, each ready to live, love and, like a vine, multiply and extend?
And consider this: what if this isn’t the last time we’re locked down and locked out? Next time we’ll be ready with a network of vine churches, small communities ready to survive and thrive no matter what.
We are learning important lessons from this isolation experience. We’ve learned that we can still have access to teaching, we can stay in touch virtually, we can pray together online. Moreover, we have learned we can stay together even when we’re apart and that we can be intentional about meeting. Here are some thoughts about the post-COVID church.
Let’s use the this accidental COVID Network (church online video network) to give your church a HAND: Homes Available for Neighborhood Discipleship.
As we anticipate life after the pandemic, let’s become a church with ARMS: Active Relationships Made for Service.
Finally, we can become a church with LEGS: Locally Established Gathered Servants.
Let’s not just go back to church as it was. Instead, let’s move forward to a church with arms, hands and legs.
Wanna talk about it? My friend Bob Lidfors and I are going to be setting up a Zoom discussion to brainstorm ways we can build on this pandemic experience.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll add you to the list of post-COVID adventurers.
From an interview in Christianity Today with Mark Sayers of the Red Church in Australia:
Eventually, renewal cells become remnants, hardening in solidity and power as cultural Christianity melts away. The remnant becomes a hot center of renewal, a container emptied of agendas and flesh, with space for God’s renewing spirit to move.
Out of such remnants, renewals burst. Cultural Christianity may melt away, things often have to get smaller before they can again get big. Under the winter soil, the sprouts of spring are ready to break through the surface. Are we ready?