The last month has been crazy for what seems like the entire world. As this virus has spread, whole sections of society are being shut down. Sports are gone. Cafes are gone. Restaurants have been made to close down. Small businesses are facing major difficulties. And beyond all of that, churches have been closed to the public.
It really is surreal.
In Australia, we went from no social gatherings of more than 500 all the way down to no more than 2 in just over ten days. Obviously that meant that we could no longer have church as usual but it also meant that even our small groups would not be able to meet. Thankfully the government made provisions for churches so that we could continue to conduct proper services in order to livestream to our members.
Last Sunday our praise team sang their hearts out to an empty building while Pastor danced in worship between the aisles. A couple of Sundays before that I came to church in jeans and a t-shirt because I was moderating our livestream on Facebook and YouTube in my office, never entering the sanctuary.
There are people in our church that I haven’t seen in over a month, people that I have not gone that long without seeing since I first moved to Australia over 11 years ago. I miss gathering together in worship. I miss the amens and the handshakes. I miss the tears in the altar and the dancing feet in the aisles. I miss the smiles and the small talk.
But I continue to see the hand of God in all of this. I am seeing the church adapt in realtime. Because we can’t rely only on our Sunday Services for community we are getting more out of our Mondays to Saturdays. Daily devotions are becoming the norm. Saints are joining together in prayer and fasting unprompted. Small groups and Youth groups are meeting via video calls. Giving is happening without the buckets and testimonies.
Every Sunday and Wednesday I am seeing people join our livestream that haven’t been in our building for months, years or sometimes, ever. The four walls of the church no longer exist to shut-in the Gospel but it is being broadcast for all to see. Baptisms are taking place on a weekly, and even daily, basis. God continues to build His church.
This is church in the wild.
A church that cannot be shut-up or stopped. A church that will worship God in their lounge rooms and in their cars. A church that shares the Gospel unashamed. A church that will show the love of God despite the fear that surrounds them. A church that has finally come to the realisation that they are not a building or a location but a body of believers.
I truly believe that this is the beginning of something new.