By Lane Corley
MADISONVILLE, La. – In Acts 1:8, Jesus told the disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world. But as you read the next 7 chapters, you don’t see that happening with great fervency. The disciples seem to be taking their time with developing the Acts 1:8 strategy, while enjoying the big crowd and the miracles in the temple courts. In Acts 8:1, it says that persecution broke out against the church and in Acts 8:4, the believers scattered to Judea, Samaria, and the world, taking the message of the Gospel with them – “the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” God always wanted the message and the people dispersed and scattered. Persecution was the scattering agent that led to exponential growth.
Today, church attendance is at an all-time low. I read recently that church attendance declined in every county in the United States in 2018. The fastest growing religious affiliation is the non-affiliated. Among Louisiana Baptist churches, baptisms dipped another 20% in 2019. Worship attendance was down another 6% in 2019. Methods and strategies that worked a few years ago are no longer as effective at reaching people and growing our churches.
Could Covid-19 serve as a 21st century scattering agent? And how do we utilize this opportunity for exponential kingdom growth?
Yes. Let’s prepare Online Services, Online Giving, Streaming opportunities. But, let’s also think about Online Training for having Gospel Conversations, leading home Bible Studies, house worship, and impacting neighbors for Christ during this crisis. How can we assure that “the believers who were scattered during the Covid-19 outbreak of 2020, preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” Acts 8:4.
Lane Corley is a church planting strategist for Louisiana Baptists and pastor of the Bridge Church in Madisonville. This editorial first appeared on his blog.