Dear Church Family,
COVID-19 has impacted every one of us. It has been a difficult last number of months for our nation and for each of us. Many of you have shared with me your growing conviction that Jesus is coming soon and that you have found your walk with Jesus deepening. Some have even found themselves going through a re-conversion. Praise God! Truly He is preparing a church to take the gospel to the world at this time.
God is growing our walk with Him.
However, there is one area of our church that has suffered—Community. COVID-19 has brought restrictions and fear which have caused many of us to become disconnected from our church family. How can an army take the gospel to the world when it is isolated and separated from each other? It can’t. Which means this must change.
What did the early church do? They faced incredible pressures from persecution and social stigma that could have driven them apart and stymied the growth of God’s church. How did they handle this?
The Early Church
Thought the book of Acts, we are given insights into how the early church built community. Notice Acts 5:42
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.Acts 5:42
Again and again we find the early church fellowshipping and studying together in their homes. When people joined the church, they didn’t, primarily, find their family at the church building. Though the early church did ultimately have places of worship — the life of the church was in the groups that would meet in members homes for Bible study, meals, and fellowship. Friendships were built, relationships deepened, and people discovered a family that drew them closer to God.
Within the early Adventist church, this same pattern was repeated. Ellen White, speaking of how important this is, says the following:
The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One [this is Jesus Christ] who cannot err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers. If in one place there are only two or three who know the truth, let them form themselves into a band of workers. Let them keep their bond of union unbroken, pressing together in love and unity, encouraging one another to advance, each gaining courage and strength from the assistance of the others. Let them reveal Christlike forbearance and patience, speaking no hasty words, using the talent of speech to build one another up in the most holy faith. Let them labor in Christlike love for those outside the fold, forgetting self in their endeavor to help others. As they work and pray in Christ’s name, their numbers will increase; for the Saviour says: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19.Testimonies for the Church Vol 7, pg 21
Jesus is coming SOON! If ever there was a time for our congregation to be moving in the direction of small groups for outreach and spiritual growth, it is now. Did you catch what was stated in the above quote? This is Jesus’ method. He does not and cannot error.
This last Wednesday evening (September 30, 2020), about 15 people gathered on zoom to discuss this very thing. It was a wide eclectic mix of men and women who have felt the call of God to lead out in these types of small groups in our congregation. As we prayed, discussed, and studied God’s plan, it became clear to us that God is moving us in this direction.
When will the launch? How do they fit into the life of the church? How can you become apart of this?
Good questions. The launch is within the next month. Stay tuned for announcements that will tell you where and when and also explain what each group will be studying.
How does it fit in? The church prayer meeting will be moved into these small groups.Instead of trying to pull a large number of us together, we are moving all of this into our homes where many more of us can pray, connect, reach out and grow.
I believe that the greatest days of the Lansing Church are just in front of us. All around us the signs of Christ coming are visible. More and more people are calling up and asking for Bible studies. The harvest is great! God is raising up an army in our church which He will use to reach the world around us and hasten His soon coming.
How quickly should this happen?
The way of the world is to begin with pomp and boasting. God’s way is to make the day of small things the beginning of the glorious triumph of truth and righteousness. Sometimes He trains His workers by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is His purpose that they shall learn to master difficulties.Prophets and Kings, pg 595