The recent COVID-19 outbreak has given us a lot of food for thought.
The world is currently being controlled by a virus and because of it, the Government is limiting public gatherings—our sports leagues, which is a hallmark of our culture, are on their knees. Even social norms such as handshakes could potentially warrant you a fine.
Even Churches, the place where people go for answers, such as healing from diseases that doctors cannot heal you from, are even closing their doors due to an illness that God quite clearly states in his Word you have authority over.
Even Corporate Prayer, the very thing we turn to in difficult times, is being discouraged.
In the Byron Region where I minister, we hold a Prayer and Worship night which all the Churches run together. They have always been powerful evenings and most people have found answers and encountered the presence of God in such a powerful way.
Those gatherings are now under threat from nervous health practitioners (we have just cancelled our March one), worried about the slightest chance they might pick up something that they could spread to their patients.
While others are nervous about how this looks to the community that Churches are holding gatherings (even those less then 500) and are therefore, not wishing to go ahead out of fear of offending their secular neighbours.
This however should not be unexpected
The Bible is very clear that in the last days there will be upheavals, even wars have been prophesied, earthquakes, plagues and droughts.
What if this is all a preparation as to what is to come?
Maybe we should be asking God for wisdom as to how to live during these difficult times. I believe we are coming to a time where large church gatherings will no longer be permitted. It’s happening right now, with all churches over 500 people in attendance no longer allowed to meet.
Maybe the small home group will now become the real place of fellowship and faith.
What if the next virus is a techno based one?
Maybe we are going to be confined to our houses to meet as believers?
Fortunately, we are in era where God has prepared us for these times. We can stream services online but what if the next virus meant that streaming worship services was no longer possible?
We are no longer going to be able to enjoy great worship bands and charismatic preachers in our presence. I truly believe that the time is coming, where the house church will rise, just like what we are seeing in persecuted countries around the world, just like what we saw in the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles.
We are the Church
The time is coming where the Church, which is the people, will meet. They will come together in a home and share fellowship around the Word.
We need to be training small group leaders and for people to meet together without relying on the Pastor.
Too often Church has been an event, we go to this Church because we ‘like it’. It meets our needs and if I don’t like it anymore then I will just go to another one in town.
We forget that the Church is not the event or the place or even the Pastor, it’s the people.
I am the Church and therefore because I am the Church, wherever I meet whether it’s two or more, the two being the Holy Spirit and Jesus, then I have Church right now.
I believe that God is bringing us to a time where he is reminding us that it’s not about the music, or the pastor but it’s about the gathering, whatever that looks like.
I believe the small group gathering must be the focus of Church Leadership, but it must be more than just a common interest group like it is now.
It must go back to being the place of warfare, faith, witness, welfare and the Word of God flowing through the neighbourhood.
We need to understand the seasons we are in
History has always seen great Churches rise up, however these great Churches have not always had the public sphere that we enjoy today. However, they have continued to grow from strength to strength, house to house.
It will happen again.
WE ARE THE CHURCH and I am really excited to see what God is going to do during these difficult circumstances.
Ben Kruzins is the Campus Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Ocean Shores on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is also a Journalism graduate who has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.