07 Apr 2020

How God Is Using the Microchurch During COVID-19

Nathan Camp

Jesus makes a stunning statement in Matthew 18:10 (NIV) when He says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them…” 

Christ, Himself, promised to gather with us. He promised that He would be with us, in the midst of us, when we gather. And here’s what’s amazing: it doesn’t say it takes hundreds or thousands, but two or three. 

In His statement, Jesus not only gives us a great promise but legitimizes church at the most smallest level of two or three people. This is very encouraging. 

Many times today, when we hear of a church or a church plant, we think of larger groups. In fact, when I say “church,” many will see in their mind’s eye groups of hundreds or even thousands gathering. They have seen this so often that they think that is the only way to be a church. This can be intimidating for many who are feeling the call to start a church

Yet, that isn’t the biblical norm. 

To define a church by how many people attend it is not seen in the New Testament, and it certainly hasn’t been the cultural norm for most Christian’s experience around the world. Most believers around the globe are experiencing church in a more familial environment, in much smaller crowds, but experiencing the power of the gospel none-the-less. They are experiencing church at home, or what is known as the “house church” model. 

An old answer to a new challenge?

The COVID-19 crisis has demanded of us to get creative in our ability to gather as a church. With buildings closed and limitations put in place on our gathering sizes, the church has had to find new ways to gather. Many have turned to church online and are doing a great job of capturing the ability to stay connected to the larger body. 

The vision for an online campus has empowered many churches to continue to reach out and make disciples during this challenging time. 

Others, however, have connected at a more cellular level, with experiencing church in the home. For many, this is turning out to be a refreshing time. Gathering with your family at home (and perhaps some friends) to worship the Lord, to study the Word, to be discipled, and to reach the lost in their local communities from that place of gathering, is proving to be a breath of fresh air to their walks with God. Could it be that the house church is going to be one of the biggest fruits of this moment?

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The value of the microchurch

I heard a great interview recently with Ralph Moore, Rob Wegner, and Daniel Yang about “The Rise of the Microchurch.” The microchurch is synonymous with what is most often called a “house church.” A church meeting in the home with usually less than 50 people in attendance. (You can listen to the webinar here). 

A few things stood out to me as I listened to this interview:

The power of the local church when it validates the micro (house) church model. The influence that is let loose in a local community when we remove the constraints of what a church gathering is amazing (not basing its validity on its size but on being a spiritual family as part of the mission of Jesus). 

When those who are called by God to start such churches are released with God ordained-blessing, these men and women who are called to these size groups - being both gifted and passionate for assemblies of this size (Exodus 18:25 is a good example of this) - are able to lead, disciple, and reflect Christ in ways many of the larger churches cannot because of the limitation of their size. 

The smaller, more nimble microchurch is able to connect, often quicker, family to family in a more defined region, like a neighborhood, apartment complex, or school campus. Many of such churches are going to find their brightest hours are doing these kinds of group limitations. 

I believe the micro (house) church is a part of what God is doing in the earth. And with the rise of this COVID-19 situation, and the possibility of weeks of quarantine, followed by a slow increase of limitations in gatherings, it might be those who have embraced the call to the micro (house) church that stand to reap some of the greatest initial harvest. 

The micro (house) church brings the gospel to the places where they are sent in a radical “hands-on” way. Hearing Rob Wegner talk about his neighborhood being transformed by the simple presence of a community of Christians on the mission of Jesus is inspiring. It is an example of true transformation of a geographic location. 

Often, we hear prayers and vision statements about “taking the world for Jesus,” which is noble and true and on the heart of Christ, but often it appears that Jesus does such dynamic work through first taking neighborhoods. This is encouraging for many church planters because they are not called to win the world, but to win their world to Christ. What if a big win comes through aiming small?

Little is needed to pursue the God-given dream to start a micro (house) church. Many church plants today require hundreds of thousands of dollars to get started. These churches launch large and require a great deal of infrastructure, leadership, space, and finances. These churches do great things in the cities to which they are called.

I started two such churches over the last 15 years, so I believe in this as an effective model for church planting. But, I also think that is often seen as the only way to start a church. This often creates a barrier to entry for many people who do not see it within their realm of capability to raise such large teams and large sums of money. However, it’s the micro (house) church movement that is able to mobilize, at perhaps the quickest rate, those that are called to get on the front lines the quickest. 

The truth is, not all church planters are called to launch large, some are called to launch small, allowing God to use their home as the central location for their gatherings. 

Winning cities and nations to Christ

There is much we can learn form during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Truly, we will be learning lessons for years and decades to come. But one thing is clear right now: in a moment of crisis like this, there are multiple ways that God is using the church to bring the gospel to the world around it. He is using the large church and the small church, the church with the building and the church in the home. Both the megachurch and microchurch are in God’s plan for winning cities and nations to Christ.

At StartCHURCH, we’ve had the honor of partnering with large church plants and micro (house) church plants. We believe both are equal in their honor and ability to be used for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. If we can serve you in helping you launch your church, no matter the size, please know that it would be our honor. 

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera


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