The #ReimagineFORUM @ Discipleship.Network

Equipping Your Reimagine Journey

Church. Gather. Differently!                                                       

Phil Miglioratti • The ReimagineFORUM

 

As the nation begins to “reopen,” the right of churches to gather has become highly politicized. For some, the cry for reopening is an act of patriotism based on what they consider their constitutional right. Others claim the precious principle of freedom of religion while some protest in anger. Some congregations have defied the ban to meet together (some also ignoring social distancing) and a few have sued the government for a return to business as usual.

 

Regardless of your perspective, I ask you to look at the how the church is responding to the reopening issue from the viewpoint of those the Church exists to invite or influence. Whether a congregation gathers in blatant defiance or even quietly resumes their normal schedule, many observers have only reactive/negative images that will invariably lead them to reach wrong conclusions about the heat and soul of the Church.

 

As I ponder our situation, I find these questions bothersome:

  • Are Christians perceived as using freedom of religion as an expression of partisan politics?
  • When we disregard social distancing are we acting in courageous faith, or are we arrogantly testing the Lord our God (Matthew 4:7) by ignoring the God-created realities of chemistry and biology?
  • Will the unchurched see this episode as another indication of an attitude of entitlement? Arrogance? Ignorance?
  • What  is the “Gospel According to the Reopening Church” my neighbors see/hear?
  • During shelter-in-place, what has my congregation done to connect with neighbors? Serve unchurched people? Are we now known as generous? Uncommon? Kind? Different?

 

What would happen if, rather than clamoring for our rights, we broke out of our standard operating procedures and designed new ways of proclaiming God and blessing our communities?

 

What could God do through the Church if we began to view this virus-crisis as an opportunity to reshape cultural stereotypes (judgmental, irrelevant) as we demonstrate the heart of God (love, sacrifice, forgiveness; John 3:16-17)?

 

What if we express our right to gather in ways unexpected but appreciated, even welcomed.

 

What if we gathered; not defiantly but joyfully; not in our seats but out in the streets?

 

What if we promote a gathering to honor and bless and pray for First Responders?

 

Church, we are right now in a Kairos moment.

Reimagine Church in this unique moment in history to gather - -

in small groups (5-7) outside your building to praise (parade) and pray (circles)

Then, each family or small group walks/drives to a:

  • place of power (City Hall) to pray for our leaders
  • neighborhood hit hard by the pandemic, praying for people as we distribute food
  • business struggling economically to bless with a gift (sanitizer) or an act of service
  • school and other places of influence to pray for our culture
  • hospital, praying for healing and hope,; gifting food for medical staff and families
  • police or fire station to support First Responders (pizza party)
  • nursing home to bring songs and smiles to those confined to their surroundings

 

 

Church, you have the right to fight. Fight, differently. Use this unique opportunity to show and tell the Gospel with acts of kindness by serving others in an attitude of love. Reach. Then preach. And teach.

__________________________________________________________________________

 

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I am an unpaid, non-pastoral layperson.

As I ponder our situation, I find these answers bothersome:

Christians are perceived by secularists as using freedom of religion as an expression of partisan politics.

 

When we disregard social distancing, we are arrogantly testing the Lord our God (Matthew 4:7) by ignoring the God-created realities of chemistry and biology.

 

We appear arrogant to the unchurched and secularists as we are more concerned about getting back into the church building than projecting our faith to society on a daily basis.  We seem ignorant of the fact that many who sit in church buildings are, in fact, unChurched instead of being part of the building-less Church.

 

nice edits

Phil, you are spot on!  One of my great concerns is that pastors and churches are not pausing to hear what God has to say in and through this season and one of the greatest pieces of evidence is the rush to return to the building. We fail to see that the rush to reopen could appear to a lost world that is gripped by fear that we are selfish and not really concerned about their well-being.  God has given us an open door to show our culture who the Church is - the people of God on mission with God where He is working which is not in our buildings as much as in the streets of our cities.  

John,

 

AMEN and AMEN!

 

My prayer is for all Christian leaders to turn themselves and their flocks in this direction.

 

We need to RE-IMAGINE and REMEMBER.  Jesus’ Disciples had no building or money (Matthew 10:9-10, Luke 9:3, 22:35, Mark 6:8).    Yet they changed the world for His Church.

 

Edified churches put people in the pews.  To the secularists, this is what re-opening churches and church buildings is all about.  Re-imagine Christianity without buildings or money, like “the good old days.”  Faith, then, would have to be lived in the streets where His Church is.

Phil,

I read your article.  Well done.  I applaud your efforts to re-introduce Christianity into the Evangelical Movement. 

Actually you give me hope.  It is the great contradiction in my experience, since I know so many Godly and faithful Evangelicals who are kind-hearted and healthy-thinking.  Yet so much of what comes out is nasty and cruel.  And I don’t blame the media.  Quite frankly, blaming the media for your bad public image is like blaming gravity for a plane crash.  Technically true, but a good pilot can fly a plane without crashing. 

 

My current thinking is that so much of this ...is like an opioid addiction.  Just as opioid s interact with our body chemistry to create a pleasure sensation that is irresistible, so much of the Hard Right rhetoric interacts with people emotionally and intellectually giving a similar pleasure sensation.  The denial and blame shifting also reflect addictive behavior... And it has been reinforced by a kind of Evangelical resentment, where we think that the world treats us badly, does not take us seriously, disrespects us, and that we are under a constant barrage from all sorts of secular enemies. 

 

And I am reminded that Jesus said “Love your enemies.”  Rely on Him from your strength and do not worry about what the world says about you.  I think that the cure for the addiction is faith.  Keep up the good work.

Ken

In talking about churches reopening with a friend who was raised in 'the church' but no longer wants anything to do with Christianity, the following points were raised:

  1. Christians think they are ENTITLED to do whatever they want 'in God's name' even if it hurts someone else and if they are called on the carpet for it, then it's the Christian who is being persecuted.  What happened to loving your neighbor as yourself?
  2. Christians who demand to go to church without restrictions are just being Pharisees, wanting to show off their faith in public.
  3. If a person must be in a church building in order to worship God, then their God is too small for me to want to know.   If their faith needs lots of people around to 'jack it up,' then their faith is too small.
  4. I thought Christians were supposed to be humble servants, not loudmouthed proclaimers of their individual rights.

I was stunned by these views and wondered how many other people had similar thoughts.  It has certainly given me pause and much to think about how I live out my Christianity in the time of COVID19 as an individual and as a member of the church.

Reading your article and the replies here from the South Africa I am thankful for Phil's post. Here in South Africa we may gather again as local churches under strict conditions from today, 1st of June, We as leaders at our local congregation decided not to!

COVID-19 forced us to rethink how we distinguish ourselves as Church of Jesus Christ from the world. That is going to challenge us how love and grace,forgiveness and justice,compassion and humility and all that the fruit of the Spirit should portray through us towards our neighbors, our leaders, to the outcast and even to those thinking or believing differently from us as we act as witnesses and followers of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Unfortunately my 'rights' and conduct as Christian is not to contradict God's Word and the requirement of obedience to Him. My prayer is that we will have wisdom as God's people how to express the Good News and be Church of Jesus Christ so that what is regarded as "Christianity' and those who hide behind churches for their own personal agenda may be exposed. May we be true to our Lord Jesus Christ

June 1, 2020


Hi Warehouse Church family & friends,

Many of you have seen the news and social media reports about the protests and rioting and looting in downtown Aurora. 

Early this morning I was at our building, and there is no damage.  The gas station and liquor store directly across the street both had their doors smashed and were looted.  The Family Dollar Store next to McCarty Park has been badly burned, looks like a total loss to me.  The only problem with our property were the beer and liquor bottles and candy strewn all over our front and side lawn.  It took a while, but I got that all picked up. 

It was very encouraging to see, early in the morning, many dozens of young people - mostly Hispanic and African American youth - all over downtown, with brooms and trash cans, cleaning up the broken glass where needed.  I know of Christ-followers from various churches that had joined the clean-up effort. 

With all of the darkness around us, the light of the love of Jesus shines even brighter.  So let's be all the more committed to do what Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Let's love and serve like never before. 

We have an opportunity to love, and listen to people of every ethnicity and skin tone. And to live out God's love for them, and to help them come to know the awesome justice, love, and forgiveness that only Jesus can bring. 
So many opportunities to engage with folks of every skin tone and ethnicity, to hear from them and to point them to Jesus.   God’s always about redeeming stuff :)

It's a great time to know and serve the Lord!

 
Love God, love people,

Randy

Our community welcomes hearing from you ... share as God leads of other insights we can learn from you and the Church in South Africa ... Thank you, Benjamin!

Phil

Benjamin Bester said:

Reading your article and the replies here from the South Africa I am thankful for Phil's post. Here in South Africa we may gather again as local churches under strict conditions from today, 1st of June, We as leaders at our local congregation decided not to!

COVID-19 forced us to rethink how we distinguish ourselves as Church of Jesus Christ from the world. That is going to challenge us how love and grace,forgiveness and justice,compassion and humility and all that the fruit of the Spirit should portray through us towards our neighbors, our leaders, to the outcast and even to those thinking or believing differently from us as we act as witnesses and followers of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Unfortunately my 'rights' and conduct as Christian is not to contradict God's Word and the requirement of obedience to Him. My prayer is that we will have wisdom as God's people how to express the Good News and be Church of Jesus Christ so that what is regarded as "Christianity' and those who hide behind churches for their own personal agenda may be exposed. May we be true to our Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Phil,

"Pastors and church leaders have a responsibility and the opportunity to restore the image of a loving God within their communities—a God who shows compassion for the vulnerable and is always near to the brokenhearted." —Dr. Heather Thompson Day

As the United States enters a second week of protests following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Christians across the nation have an opportunity to be ministers of peace and reconciliation in a time of unrest and injustice.

Barna is continuing to offer church leaders a free digital copy of Where Do We Go from Here?, a 2019 report assessing our nation's reputation of racism, both past and present. Commentary from a panel of voices, including Dr. Heather Thompson Day’s quote above, also offer insight into how churches and individuals can work toward racial justice in our country.

As Barna president David Kinnaman, recently wrote, we believe "research can be a small step toward understanding someone else’s experience." It is our hope that the data presented in this study will help inform faith leaders and their communities as they navigate these difficult and necessary conversations.


Standing together,

—Barna Group
 
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DEAR PRAYING FRIENDS, JOIN US!


48% of churchgoers say they have not watched any church online in the last 4 weeks. Think about that for a moment! COVID-crisis only accelerated the decades-long trend we see in the decline of church-attendance and missional effectiveness. When Nehemiah heard about the sorrowful situation in Jerusalem, he was burdened, sought God and responded.  He responded not only with his emotions, but with his will in strategic, sacrificial action. Today, we need such a response. The future is unkind to the unprepared.

We invite you to join us for a 4-part ONLINE look at what our city needs from an awakened church. The speakers, interaction, and content will inspire, challenge, and encourage you!
SESSION 1
Voices Unsilenced

June 16, 2020 7:00PM-8:30PM CST

Learn the burdens of our cities by listening to the voices of prominent leaders from various sectors and domains. This is an interactive night in a TED talk format with time for Q&A.


SESSION 2
The Changing Face of Evangelism & the Well-being of the City 
June 18, 2020 7:00PM-8:30PM CST

Discover a perspective on our current reality re: the Church, culture, and evangelism. We will also introduce the CoJourner paradigm for conversational evangelism.


SESSION 3
Living a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle
June 23, 2020 7:00PM-8:30PM CST

Let’s talk about how every follower of Jesus can share Christ and make disciples, and learn practical ways to engage with others where we live, work, learn, and play.


SESSION 4
The Challenge of Our Day
June 25, 2020 7:00PM-8:30PM CST

We’ll explore the need for leaders to awaken to the heart of Jesus and put their feet where His heart leads.
CLICK TO REGISTER

My THANKS to each person who has taken time to respond.

  • Please pray fore the Church to seek God like never before
  • As the Spirit leads,, please share this article (link) with others who need to or are ready to #ReimagineCHURCH!

Phil

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