After decades of the church enjoying regular Sunday morning services, it seems as though, at least temporarily, the gathered body of believers is no longer able to meet the way we have been. Without any warning at all, we are forced to re-define and re-examine what we can do to adapt to these changes. The question then remains, “what is the church when we can’t gather?”
In AD 64, Emperor Nero blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome. This instituted over two centuries of on and off persecution against the Christians throughout Rome. Nero hoped to stomp out the fire of Christianity through intense persecution. What Nero discovered, however, is that when you stomp on a burning fire, embers are released into the air, igniting wherever they land. When the Church was scattered, it grew with great intensity instead of being put out.
While we may not be under persecution right now, we are scattered. The Church as we know it (at least for now) was completely changed almost overnight. How will we respond? Will we be crushed in the scattering or will there be a new move of God in our neighborhoods and relationships? While the gathering of the Church may be changed, the identity and purpose of the Church, the Body of Christ, isn’t. Here are 7 ways we can live out our identity as the Body of Christ in the midst of social distancing and quarantine:
I understand this may sound the exact opposite of mission and purpose, but not if you’ve been running a thousand miles an hour for a season. Maybe the most purposeful thing you can do is rest and be ready to reengage when all this clears up. Maybe you need to observe sabbath, nap, enjoy your family, read, pray, journal, or just simply be. Maybe the most missional thing you can do is become healthy and develop yourself.
- Utilize technology
Each one of us has a platform to speak right in the palm of our hand. There is an amazing amount of options that place your voice in the lives of neighbors, friends, and coworkers.
Send and encouraging live video into your feed.
Host an online bible study.
Organize a Q&A for those about the hope of Jesus in this season.
Host a weekly video hangout so people get some virtual face to face time.
- Check in on your neighbors
Especially those that are quarantined! Pick up their groceries. Help with appropriate chores. Spend time just chatting on the phone – Quarantine and social distancing do not need to lead to isolation. Mental health during this season is just as important as physical health.
- Host a Sunday service watch party on Facebook
You don’t need to be with others to learn with others. Share the live stream of our service or host a watch party and invite your Facebook friends to join you. Maybe there is someone in your life that you wish you could invite to church but they live too far to be here in person. Now is your chance! Distance isn’t a factor with social media.
- Micro group meetings
IF YOU ARE HEALTHY, LOW RISK, AND COMFORTABLE WITH IT, invite one or two couples over to maintain true face time. Maybe you are in relationship with someone that doesn’t feel comfortable going to church, but they are comfortable with you. Now is the time to change the goal from “let’s get them into church” to “let’s share the love of Jesus.”
- Social distance yard party
The weather is getting nicer and it’s only a matter of time before people are sick of being inside. Invite people into your back yard, have them bring their own food, and maintain at least 6 feet of distance. Put on some music and enjoy time with people. This is a great way not only to socialize, but also to listen. Ask questions and listen to the people around you that don’t know the love of Jesus.
While last on my list, it certainly isn’t the least important. Prayer may not seem missional, but it’s at the heart of mission. No revival in history started without a small group of people crying out to God. Why? Because God changes people’s hearts and he often does that when we ask him to.
There you go! There are probably a lot more ways to be missional during social distancing than these. What can you think of? Share it with us!
Pastor | Church Planter | Fearless Family of Churches