Mike Gore, who heads up Open Doors in Australia, reflects on the lessons he’s been learning during the lock down…
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the global 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.”
Image: A Chinese woman looking towards her closed church.
Churches have gathered online as we can’t meet in person and the church is really starting to understand that it is much more than a building. Many leaders always remind us to reach out to our communities and “be a Monday Christian too!”. Because of the lockdown, overnight these prayers were answered, and churches were scattered into homes. People are responding, doing what they can to help their neighbours. The church is stepping up, all over the world.
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.
Image: Believers praying together for the persecuted church
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 in the home
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 homes.
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!
To help you through this time of enforced social distancing and isolation, we’re releasing a series of new content every week. Were going to be looking at how the persecuted church can inspire us during this time of lockdown. Sign up for our weekly emails to get fresh videos, stories, reflections, prayers and actions – all of which you can do from home!
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