Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Why Online Groups, During Unprecedented Times


“Unprecedented times” has become the standard phrase to describe the world of today. But fear not. While the devil has a history of using sickness and isolation as weapons against the kingdom of God, his methods are inevitably defeated every time he comes into contact with the person of Jesus Christ. It is because of this fact that we possess a hope that stands upon the mighty and powerful name of Jesus. True, we may be living in unprecedented times. But with unprecedented times comes the opportunity for the Church to respond by mobilizing and conducting ministry in unprecedented ways.

A Season of Change
The speed in which one may turn a boat is directly correlated to the size of the vessel. A fishing boat can make quick and precise turns, while a cruise liner requires a significantly larger amount of time to make a wide turn. The larger Church can be likened to the size of a cruise liner, where making large changes requires more energy and time. While Covid-19 slowly gained traction, the Church remained optimistic that it would be able to ride the wave of the virus without the need to change any existing cultural precedents. However, at this time we are confident that this is no longer a short period of inconvenience, but rather a season of change that we must now fully engage.

Online Mobilization
With many churches approaching their 4th week of streaming their Sunday services, this week has become the precise week in which the Church is called to fully embrace the mobilization of its online small group ministry. Indeed, congregants who may have brushed aside online groups a month ago may now be open to the concept to help combat the pangs of self-isolation. Simply looking at Psalm 133 may assist us in understanding why. David proclaims in this tiny 3-verse psalm, How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (NIV). In other words, true fellowship is the best of Earth intersecting with the best of heaven. It’s an experience as potent and close to God as was the ordination of the very first high priest, Aaron. It’s the very best representation of our relationship that we can have with the Lord, utilizing the best metaphors that our earthly minds can possibly comprehend. Without fellowship with one another, we lose the closest thing we have with God, save for our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Need for Online Groups Now
We are made in the image of God, and God perfectly embodies fellowship within the Trinity. The soul cannot be deprived of fellowship for prolonged periods of time, for God did not create us for this purpose. Even the Lord would not want to exist in this manner, and the only time He ever chose to experience this state of being was when He sacrificed His Son on the cross. We must remind ourselves of the finished work of Jesus at the cross. Never should we feel trapped to live in isolation, for Jesus took on this burden so that we would not have to!

Pastors, utilize your message this week to bring your church together and fully embrace the opportunity to meet online. Bill Donahue, author of Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry, explains that “there is always enormous correlation between what the person on the platform does and what everyone else in the church will do.” The tone and optimism in which church staff promote online groups during these critical weeks will directly affect the perception of online groups within the congregation. Now is the time for church leadership to help guide the community through this season of change and embrace the next generation of online ministry.


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