5 Ways God is Growing a Church During Lockdown
Amid the suffering, anxiety, and loneliness of the coronavirus pandemic, God is at work for his glory and the good of his people. Here is how one local church is seeing God at work in their number.
North Church is a small and young church plant, about two-years-old, in a deprived area in the north of Leicester. Probably not unlike every other church, COVID-19 has introduced a number of challenges to us.
We are of course prevented from meeting together as we normally would and we’re not immune from anxieties and fears. Some of our folk live on their own and are feeling the pinch of isolation, loneliness, and boredom, and some households have been impacted financially. One family of seven lives in a two-bed flat, with mum being in the ‘at risk’ category. There’s some pressure!
That being said, we have also been seeing God at work for our good and his glory in many ways that I am sure are not unique to us. Here are five that have been encouraging and edifying for us, and I hope they are also to you.
Encouraging the Church to Lament
It might sound strange, but it has been a great encouragement to see how the church has been grieving our inability to meet together.
Being unable to assemble as the people of God. Being unable to enjoy the ‘means of grace’ together. Being unable to enjoy fellowship as we normally would.
It is entirely appropriate that the church laments this; it would be odd if it didn’t! It has been an encouragement to see the church longing to return to these things, similar to the Sons of Korah longing to return to the temple in Psalm 42-43.
Sharpening Our Thinking
This situation has forced us to ask questions that we didn’t know we had. Why is meeting online not the same as the gathered church? Is the Lord’s Supper something that can be done separately in our homes? Why or why not? Christians across the world have been wrestling with these issues.
The situation we’re in has helped to sharpen our thinking as a congregation on some of the essential issues of what the church is and does.
Giving Fruit in Evangelism
Sharing the gospel with those around us has changed, but it continues by God’s grace.
We have found that friends have been more open than usual to a text or phone call asking how we can be praying for them, and sharing our hope. We have had some good conversations with immediate neighbours, one asking for a bible to read. And we have had a handful of unbelievers every week join in the Sunday live stream.
We take heart that Jesus has not ditched his promise to be with us to the end of the age as we seek to make disciples (Matthew 28:20).
Giving More Opportunity for Growth
One benefit of the lockdown has been that there is more space in our evenings to study and pray together, and our church has been glad to capitalise on this via Zoom. Our prayer is that we might come out the other side of this knowing and loving God more deeply.
Isolation has also been a sanctifying process. New circumstances present new opportunities for the flesh and expose sins and idols that we perhaps weren’t previously aware of. We may realise that things we might otherwise excuse on account of being busy are actually a result of being lazy, selfish, or otherwise.
This is a gift to us: an opportunity to put sin to death and run to Christ.
Reminding us of our Heavenly Citizenship
With this pandemic, we are faced in new ways with our fragility and the reality of death and that pushes us to look to Christ with fresh eyes, to look at the hope of his resurrection that removes the sting of death, and to rest in our heavenly citizenship.
The “sinking sand” that we so often stand on is exposed, and the solid rock of Christ stands firm under our feet.
That wonderful conclusion to Romans 8 rings true: nothing in all of creation, including COVID-19, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.