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Relaunching Decentralized Churches: A Mid-Term Analysis

The Fall and Winter of 2020-21 is the mid-term season of the COVID-19 pandemic. The slate has been wiped clean and every church is poised for a relaunch. This season provides a unique opportunity to identify and rebuild our gatherings around the basics. We can discard structures or systems that do not work and relaunch processes that foster God’s kingdom among His people. Such work will require radical reframing.
Reframe How We Think About Church
In the New Testament, the ecclesia was defined by relationships, not events. We have a unique chance in this season to rethink what binds us together as a faith family. We should leverage the relational-based networks and create activities or events that serve those relationships. The localized cells that have allowed connectivity during this season when the church could not gather can and should be normalized and prioritized when the church begins to gather again. Those who’ve taken the mantle of leadership in these small pockets need to be empowered to continue moving forward. Genuine relationships built on the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace are vital, not only for COVID-19 but for the trauma our nation is experiencing on all fronts.
Reframe How We Think About Discipleship
It’s important to remember that we disciple individuals, not groups. People need to be cared for and prayed for individually. We need to help real people with real needs and real wounds process the current cultural moment and apply the truth of the Scripture to the unique contours of their lives. Not only do we need to give and serve those uniquely impacted by COVID-19, but we also need to empower all of God’s people to live out their missionary calling in the unique places God has put them.
Reframe How We Think About Networks
None of us can do this alone. Our issues are too complex for one person, church, or organization to address individually. But together we can do great things if we work together broadly within our church and city. We should build local church leadership teams that can carry the weight of ministry using interdependent gifts. We need people who love us enough to care for our souls as we run this marathon. Not only that, but our churches need networks in the city that partner together so that they all fulfill their mission. This season provides unique inroads for kingdom-collaboration among churches and organizations in the city who each have strengths to bring to bear for the betterment of God’s work in a city.
Everything is an experiment. This reframing—and the changes such work will produce—will not come easy. But, there’s grace at this moment to try new things, fail, learn, grow, and adapt as we all listen to the Spirit and follow where He leads.
Watch Jessie Cruickshank share more on this mid-term opportunity.