By Joel Comiskey, How To Be a Great Cell Group Coach (2022 version), Fall 2022
Covid-19 has claimed 6,510,312 lives so far. On this side of heaven, we cannot fully understand how God’s sovereignty relates to Covid-19, wars, starvation, abuse, untimely deaths, and so forth. Yes, sin and the curse are definite factors (Genesis 3). Free will is another.
The reformers, like Martin Luther and John Calvin, often talked about God’s revealed and secret will. God’s revealed will is clearly stated in the Bible, but he has not revealed to us his secret will. We’ll have to wait until heaven for those answers.
We do know that God is sovereign over all. Ephesians 1:11, for example, says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Notice that last phrase, “the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” God has a plan for all that takes place. He is sovereign.
But what about Covid-19 and the church? Let me suggest two ways that God has used Covid-19 to strengthen his church.
Purification: As mentioned last week, some researchers believe that 25% of those attending churches before Covid-19 have left, and 50% have left mega-churches. Going to church, however, does not make a person a Christian. Jesus tells us we must be born-again (John 3:3). Romans 11:4-5 says:
And what was God’s answer to him [Elijah]? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
Covid-19 might have emptied churches of church attendees, but it also purified the faith of true believers to dig deeper into the Scripture and find fellowship in unexpected places.
New focus on house-to-house ministry: Covid-19 was a wake-up call to pastors and leaders to prepare the lay people to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4). Robert Hancock wisely discerned the effects of Covid on Christ’s church,
The global pandemic has now forced a new paradigm more in alignment with the New Testament definition of church and put the control back where it should have been all along with God’s Spirit, His Word and the placement of the salt out of the salt shaker where it is needed” (personal email).
Let’s remember that Jesus started his ministry in a small group, sent the disciples into homes, and prepared his disciples to change the world through house-to-house ministry (the book of Acts). And the early church grew during adverse circumstances! The cell church movement is simply a return to the book of Acts.
Jesus is calling his church to come back to the cell-celebration paradigm to more effectively make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:18-19). He has used Covid-19 to better align the present-day church with New Testament life and reality.