Lessons From Lockdown
I had the privilege of speaking with Laura Bennett from Hope 103.2 about lessons the Church is learning in lockdown. The conversation reminded me that even though this period of isolation can feel claustrophobic and oppressive, what if this isolation is actually a hand on the back from the Lord, pushing us in to a beautiful, focused relationship with Him?
At the height of persecution [in China] in the 50’s and the 60’s, the church was dispersed, and forced into homes – much like we’re experiencing now.
Chinese believers reflected that “before persecution came we practised our faith and our love for God in the church – and almost nowhere else, but when persecution came it dispersed the church, and we practised faith in our homes, and because of that – everywhere else.”
Prayers Have Been Answered
Image: A Chinese woman looking towards her closed church.
As I watched churches respond to the pandemic, and the effect it had on their congregations, I saw actions originating out of fear and control; people were worried as they question the meaning of the pandemic and how they could keep their church together.
These were perfectly natural reactions, but from this place of fear and control an online battleground emerged where every church was trying to compete for the best live stream – trying to ensure their congregation were able to ‘remain together’ that Sunday.
It is ironic that for many years, church pastors have implored with their congregations to remember that the church is more than just four walls. Many have pleaded with their congregations to reach out to their communities and “be a Monday Christian too!”
Overnight these prayers were answered, and churches were scattered into homes – but some church leaders were screaming, “Come back! Come back!”
The Battleground is Connection
Image: A Christian family gather in their home, Syria
Over the last few weeks, I have seen people become more comfortable with our situation, and churches have decreased their focus on content as they increased their focus on connection. That is the key in what we’ve learned from the persecuted church. When the church is forced into homes, the battleground shouldn’t be around the best deliverable content – the battleground is connection.
Stripping back all the distractions of culture, and all the things we found our identity in – whether it is church, work or socialising – we’ve realised that when all our distractions are gone – we’re still okay.
A Fight For Unity
Image: Believers praying together at an Open Doors Live event.
One of the risks is that we will look back on this time in history and see a decline in the number of regular church-attending Christians. A major reason will be that the pursuit of content over connection has left some believers saying, ‘I haven’t even heard from my church’.
For others, their routine will be forever interrupted by the change in church setting and they won’t go back to the building as often. We will also see a broadening of the gospel as people become used to receiving information online – but from a variety of sources.
But I believe we will also see a reduction of denominational lines and the patriotism surrounding denominations. I’m hoping we’ll see a far more unified Church arise from this pandemic.
Faith Found In The Household
Image: Believers praying at a house church gathering, Laos.
When faith is brought out of our church, it enters the rest of the world. That’s one the most beautiful realities of what we’re experiencing now; faith has become a part of our household.
This pandemic has become a super intimate, faith-growing – and hopefully faith-deepening, experience. Let us use this opportunity to grow the Church as we see God working during this pandemic.