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A scattered basket of marbles?
In the Old Testament Lesson (click here to read Deuteronomy 11 & 12), the LORD united his people by reminding of them of a common history and commanding them to have a common place of worship, the tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem. That's the basket of marbles. The Savior God kept his Church united.
But in the New Testament Lesson (click here to read Acts 6:1-7:8), our Savior God begins to tip that basket of marbles over and scatters the Church. The Lord of the Church calls lay people into ministry. Soon their roles grow, persecution breaks out, and the church spreads. Watch for it in our readings about Stephen and Philip in the next few days.
The Church Scatters
Could it be that our God is using COVID-19 to scatter his Church today so that we can reach more people for Christ?
Perhaps we slipped back into that Old Testament way of thinking - that God keeps us united by all of us going back to the same place to worship. Church became a building and called workers did the ministry.
But what unites the Church of the New Testament isn't a place where we go. It is a place where we have come from: The Empty Tomb. The New Testament Church is united by this common history of a Savior who conquered death.
1000 Churches Opened!
We have prayed for new places to start daughter congregations. Is God answering our prayers in a way that we couldn't have ever imagined? This past weekend, 422 "churches" worshiped using our Traditional service (click here to view) and 433 "churches" joined us at the Bridge live stream. By 10 pm last evening, our Facebook recording of the Bridge (click here to view) logged over 1000 views, thanks to those who formed watch parties and shared it with friends!
More Enjoying Gospel Ministry
I received this email yesterday from a "pastor of a family church," a lay-member of our congregation:
I’ve reaffirmed my belief that times of difficulty can bring opportunity. I found it very comforting listening to your message on our large screen in the sitting room with [my wife, my children, and our dog] comfortably sitting by my side. No electronics, no distractions, just 100% attention devoted to your message. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt a family bonding unlike any other I’ve felt.
An Exciting Future?
We are certainly going to face challenges as individuals, as families and as churches in the days and weeks ahead. But I am excited to see what God will do in the future as we realize that we can have "church" in our own homes. That family member or neighbor who might never want to step into your church... might they accept your invitation to join you in worship in your home or in a watch party? Is this how God's Church will reach the cities where millions live in high-rise apartment buildings and no church building is affordable?
Persecution in Acts was horrible. People lost their lives. But the Church spread. People gained eternal life.
Lord of the Church, may it be your will to work that miracle among us and through us. Amen.
Your co-worker in God's harvest field,
Attached: This weekend's message and worship folder