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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DEVOTIONAL – DAY 17

They Will Reach Them        

Bible Passage: 

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark 5:18–20) 

Devotional: 

In amazement, our small group of leaders listened to testimonies of Muslim leaders who had come to faith in Christ. We were in a secure out-of-the-way place in a nation bordering North Africa. Seven years earlier we assisted a small cluster of churches there to begin their own discipleship-mission training program in this predominantly Muslim region. Their goal was to equip their people to reach their ‘cousins’ with the Good News of Jesus.  

The simple strategy was to build friendships with the Muslim neighbors and leaders they knew. In friendly interaction, they would initiate conversation about what the Qur’an reveals about Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah). They would introduce ideas from the Qur’an like: Jesus is the Word of God (Sur. An-nisa’ 4:171), Jesus is the True Word (Sur. Maryam 19:34), and Jesus was born by the Spirit to Virgin Mary (Sur. Al-Anbiya’ 21:90–91). 

Now we sat there, listening to a Muslim Sheik who had come to know Jesus the Messiah as his Savior and Lord. He told us about leading thirty-two other Muslim Sheiks to surrender their lives to Jesus. The testimonies that followed of the many ways Jesus revealed himself were so inspiring and faith building. In this region and a neighboring region we visited, at least seven thousand Muslims have come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. When someone decides to follow Jesus, they are invited to a secret place for five days of instruction—this was what we believed as Muslims, now this is what we believe as disciples of Jesus Christ. There are prayers for deliverance, wisdom and courage. Then, if they are ready, they are baptized. 

The new Christ-followers are instructed not to change the way they dress, but to go and talk with their own people about the Messiah, like Jesus instructed the man freed from demons in Mark 5. They join small groups, meeting regularly—and often in secret—to study the Injil, the Gospel(s), as the Qur’an encourages them to (Sur. Al-Ma’idah 5:46). 
 
One African leader in our group asked their discipleship-mission trainer, “But, how will you reach the people just across your border?” He smiled and asked a young man in their training and from that nation to stand. “He will reach them,” he replied. 

Quote: Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you. 

Question: How can we become better at equipping the people we serve to be ‘near-culture’ mission workers who multiply disciples and new fellowships among their own people? 

Galen Burkholder 
CEO, Global Disciples 

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