By Joel Comiskey, Summer 2020, check out Joel’s latest book, Living in Victory
Covid-19 came suddenly and has stayed a lot longer than most people expected. Some countries have done better in controlling the virus, but the worldwide Covid-19 death rate continues to skyrocket. Covid-19 has also slammed into churches like a fierce hurricane.
Churches have scrambled to figure out how to minister to their people online. Most churches are hesitant to gather on Sunday and even when they do, the space is limited. The churches having the most difficult time are those who previously focused on Sunday celebration and programs to minister to the people. The pastors of these churches are struggling to care for their people.
Could Jesus be reminding his church that he never intended his body to be based on buildings and programs?
Jesus gave the church a clear commission in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples who make disciples. He modeled how to do this in a small group, sent his disciples into the homes, and modeled house to house ministry by ministering in the homes. The early church followed Christ’s example and met from house to house (Acts 2:42-46; 20:20). The early church was perfectly suited to make disciples who made disciples, just like Jesus taught them.
Could Jesus be using a virus to remind the church of the importance of making disciples through small groups? I think so.
Over the last decade, I’ve increasingly become convinced that “Theology breeds methodology.” We must always start with the “why” question for small group ministry. The methodology (the why) of the cell church is to make disciples who make disciples. We do that through cell, celebration, equipping, and coaching. Prayer, as we talked about last month, is the oxygen which allows the church to breath.
Covid-19 is a wakeup call to go back to the New Testament vision of making disciples through small groups. Robert Lay often uses the phrase “vision leaks.” We need to continually renew our vision for why we are doing what we are doing.