Jump Start # 2616
Acts 8:4 “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”
As congregations begin opening up and assembling together again, often at a limited scale and baby steps, one of the concern that many have expressed is that people may have become accustomed to staying home. Many congregations have gone without Wednesday evening services for several months now. The material and videos have been made available but folks are watching them at their convenience. It may be late at night in bed. It may been on a Saturday morning. And, what I have heard from many is the fear that some simply will not assemble again on Wednesday. They like the way things are being done now.
With that, I thought of our verse today. The persecution in Jerusalem caused the church to scatter. The apostles remained in the city, but many of the disciples got out and away from the center of trouble. As they spread, they also spread the word. In some ways, many of them would never be together again. They were out forming new congregations and putting a stake down for the Lord.
Here are some things I see after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted:
First, folks will assemble. We have a deep faith and love for the Lord and His people. We understand the value of Bible study and for years we have benefited and learned so much this way. I do not believe the current storm will be the death of Bible classes.
Second, it will cause some to reevaluate the structure of classes. Our current Wednesday model was handed to us from the last generation. It worked well for them. Through this, we may find better ways and more efficient ways to teach God’s word. Bible classes are more than periods of information, there is the fellowship factor that is lacking in on-line videos. As things start up again, this may be the time to look at how well we have been doing in teaching God’s word. Are there better ways? Does Wednesday evening still work for this generation? As leaders think these thoughts, some adjustments, changes and better ways to do what has been done will be tried. Middle school is not the same as grade school. High school is not the same as middle school. College is not the same as high school. Different levels of age and maturity has expanded into different ways the school day looks.
Third, we must have some faith in the heart of the people. In our passage, as the disciples spread out, they didn’t have apostles with them to tell them to remember to assemble, take the Lord’s Supper, worship properly. They had been taught. They knew. And, in many ways it will be the same for God’s people today. They have been taught well. Our folks today know.
Fourth, the Lord’s last words to the apostles were to go into Judea, then Samaria and then to the rest of the world. It wasn’t peace times that accomplished that, but the trials of persecution. Had it not been for that storm, the disciples may have remained in Jerusalem. It was time to expand the kingdom and it took a storm to do that. And, likewise today, as the result of this pandemic and separation we may find the church stronger, more active and more connected than ever before. Expecting things to be as they have been may not be a good expectation. I’m seeing that things will be better. We’ve lived through the Spring without Gospel Meetings, yet the church was still growing. People are having to use other resources than face to face to stay connected. People are sharing more things that the congregations are posting. Many have watched more sermons, sat through more classes than they would have during normal conditions. As the storm passes, we may find more men ready to step up and serve as shepherds. We may find more useful ways to use deacons. Preachers have found a large network of teaching beyond the pulpit. Much good has been done, even during this storm.
Finally, we have found that the Lord has been good to us. We have survived. Our faith has remained strong. Our hope has not become tattered and nearly gone. Not at all. We continue to march ever onward, even through the storms that the world and Satan throws at us. This has prepared us for whatever else is coming down the road. We know, as life as taught us, that there will be something else after this. Our scars and our experience has shaped us to face whatever comes. Together with God we will make it.
The disciples scattered and the kingdom grew. The enemies thought the persecution would put an end to this movement. Instead, it was the very mechanism that helped it explode. No enemy is a match for God. The enemies underestimate the power of faith, love and hope. Together, with Christ, we shall more than overcome, we shall shine forth!