Maybe The Time Is Right To Do Church Differently

J.R. Heimbigner

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

With COVID-19 hitting the world, people of every religion are forced to rethink their services. For smaller churches, maybe it hasn’t been a problem, but for our church where we live who could have thousands of people come through the doors on any given weekend, it presents challenges.

Many churches have adapted to the online church.

There are children’s services on YouTube, regular service that is live-streamed, and midweek videos for the smaller parts of the church. While the online space has been good, the church needs to start thinking about the future.

Churches everywhere will be forced to ask:

What happens when this is all over?

Will we go back to church as it was? Filling the pews full of people. Children’s Ministries sharing Jesus with the little ones. And breakout ministries meeting in the church during the week.

Or will we start to see something else happen? Will we see more small group style house churches popping up. Groups meeting in homes once per week, and then once a month in a larger gathering that is less focused on “feeding the people.”

What would this look like though?

The First Century Church — Unity and Community

We all know the often quotes a portion of the Bible that draws us to what the early church looked like. Drawing back to the Book of Acts we learn about what happened and how the church was at that time. For a refresher, here it is:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. — Acts 2:42–47

When I look at this section of scripture, I can single out two words that can encapsulate what the first-century church was described: Unity and Community

In this passage, we see words like fellowship and together. We see the phrase, “they had everything in common.” This passage hits it out of the park that the early church did things together and added to their numbers regularly.

They were focused on being one and living life together as one. They were community-focused too. Whether they were having church in their homes, at the temple, or were considering their own possessions. They were focused on doing things together, in the community.

It seems amazing to think about a culture of people who lived a life so closely together that they focused on their unity and community over everything else. And of course, bringing others into that community.

How different is that from today?

The Church Today — One Place, Tons of People

Don’t get me wrong. I love our church.

I love that thousands of people come to it, feel comfortable learning about life with Jesus and that there is a children’s ministry that is really awesome. It is an awesome place where Jesus is, the Holy Spirit is experienced, and we can honor and worship God.

But, it doesn't always feel super unified.

We are super connected with the children’s ministry because we serve there. The pastor who watches over our group is amazing and full of life for children and those of us who volunteer to love the kids who come through the class.

The reality is, many people come to our big church because it is the biggest in our city. It is easy to be anonymous. You can feel good Sunday morning and go home back to whatever is going on that no one else knows about.

It’s not because the church or its leaders don’t care, it's just that it has scaled up so large that it happens that way. The unity and community of the first church feel lost in some ways.

Going Backwards to Go Forward?

The question though is this: Do we go backward to go forward?

Are we going to go back to the first-century church in order to move the church forward from the coronavirus? Or will we try to force things back to normal over time?

Well, I feel in my bones that the church is about to transition to a new era of small house churches. Communities of 20–30 people meeting weekly in homes. The Bible will still be taught, worship will still be sung, but people will be unified in Jesus and living out community again.

And then, once a month, we will go to the ‘temple’ altogether. Spending time in a celebration type of service. Worshiping in the spirit, sharing testimonies of what God is doing, and seeing people healed and delivered.

We will see signs and wonders, worship together, and truly be community again.

I believe a new era of church is coming. The coronavirus forced the hand of the church and it will now adapt in order to overcome. When the church encounters troubles and trials it always seems to thrive. Now, is a new season of thriving.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, I am not saying that megachurches are bad. Or church as we know it is bad for that matter. I am saying that I see the church doing something different now. I see a desire to be more unified and focused on the community now more than ever.

And the church will need to adapt. It will need to grow. Most of all, we will see a shift in the way we do church, and it will be good.

I see us moving into a season of greater connection, unity, and community. It will be a time that the church will thrive and recover from what we are experiencing now due to the coronavirus.

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My goal with my writing is to help people get everything done they want in their very busy lives. I believe we can we all can achieve our dreams and I know it starts with having the right mindset, systems, and taking action every single day. My writing shares how to do this through self-improvement, inspiration, and productivity.

Spokane, WA

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