These are interesting days. This may be the time for a monumental shift, it might be a pause, or it may be a window into what’s coming. Either way, we have a season of change that has dramatically changed the way we do life. And it’s not just us, it’s worldwide.
As a Christian and pastor, I wonder what this means for the church? I wonder if it will be a blip on the radar screen, or if this will be the impetus to change the way we do church? I pray it’s the latter.
We need to know, we are the scattered church. We’re not scattered just because of a virus. But being a scattered church was always God’s design. In 1 Peter 1, Peter calls the church he’s writing to, the exiled and scattered church. Being scattered is nothing new and while it’s uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Do you remember some important, scatterings in Scripture? Each of them were used by God to move his mission forward.
- God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply and spread out!
- God scattered humanity at the Tower of Babbel in Genesis 11.
- God scattered the Israelites into the nations surrounding Israel.
- Jesus scattered us in the command to “Go into all nations…” in Matthew 28.
- God scattered the church in the early days of church life, through persecution.
One day, we’ll all be brought together around the throne. But that time isn’t now. We have a mission and we must have the mindset of missionaries. It might just be God who is reminding the church of where and how we should be living and practicing our faith.
Being sent by God into new places, by choice or by circumstance, is God’s design for moving his mission forward. We are in a season of scattering because we can’t meet on Sundays. The thing we’ve depended on to give us a sense of connection with God and others has been taken away. What we were doing together, we now are trying to do alone, or in family units. It’s tough and painful, but think about it this way.
How would church be different if we weren’t so centered on one location? How could ministry impact expand if each of us were engaged with our neighbors, bringing the Word, worship, and service to them? What if we learned to disciple our own families? What if we made ministry and witness a family activity, done by households? What if we learned how to generous toward God’s mission, without the weekly prodding? What if we found we could dig into the Word of God, hear the voice of Jesus and have something to share with the world around us?
Think about the time we’ll get to meet again in worship. Will we sigh with relief because we’ve been barely hanging on? Or will it be a celebration of all that God has done in the time we’ve been away? Will we recount the ministry we’ve done for our neighbor? Will we rehearse stories of how God has moved in our families? And then what will we be like when we go back home? Will we practice the new spiritual disciplines we’ve learned? Will we continue on the mission God has given us? Or, will we slip back into old habits of thinking real faith can be handed to us by professionals during that one hour a week?
10 Ways to Grow in Your Faith, While Scattered
Let’s have a different vision of what this time is about. Let’s realize we are right where God has always wanted us, a scattered church, living in and sacrificing for the world he loves and died for.
Here are a list of some practical ways we can use this time to change the way we do a faith-filled life.
- We can learn to find satisfaction with the presence of God, over all our hectic activities. Sitting still and reflecting on him, even if it leads to a nap, is a good thing.
- We can begin to explore what it means to teach our faith and train one another within the family. Are you your children’s main Bible teacher? Take this opportunity to help them learn the Word.
- We can see our neighbors, think about their needs and find new ways to interact with them and care for them. Drop a card on their doorstep, or offer to pick up an “essential” from the store. Let them know you’re praying for them, or better yet, ask them how you can pray.
- We can learn to take the initiative in giving, practicing true generosity, rather than waiting to be prodded and give out of duty, or guilt. Give to your church. Send it in online, or use the mail. Either way, it’s good for our soul to take the initiative and be generous.
- We can use technology to make contact with those in need and offer fellowship, even at a distance. Zoom, Facebook, Google Duo, Facetime, email, texting, or an old fashioned phone call. Check-in on someone. Let them know you’re thinking of them.
- We can look for resources to help us learn how to engage God through His Word. Online sermons and workshops can help. Find a devotional to go through. Here’s one!
- We can explore prayer, by keeping a journal, or list and just praying through it each day. Write down your prayers and people, or situations you’re praying for. Make notes of praise when you see God answer a prayer.
- We can explore new entertainment options, like exploring what Christian music is available on YouTube. Find positive movies to watch or books to read.
- We can make a goal to memorize a new verse each week. It’s easier than you think. Even if you don’t succeed, you are getting the Word of God into your heart and mind.
- We can find ways to be creative. Make something new, or restore something old. Do it to honor him, no matter how small. Our creativity is an expression of God’s nature. He makes things beautiful. We can too.
Can you imagine, if after a few weeks, we’ve learned a more interactive and involved way of doing life with Christ and one another, we might just forever be changed! And we might help bring change to a world that needs the light and life of Jesus.
Don’t be afraid of being scattered. He’s got us right where he wants us.