In the book of Acts we read that the church was “scattered” – unable to gather in the same way as they were before. (Acts 8) They were facing persecution and other hardships that most of us have only read about.
However, God does an interesting thing through these scattered people. The Spirit moves in their midst wherever they go. They start to gather in living rooms and households. Because of this, folks are invited in who are curious to hear about why these people were following Jesus. Or perhaps some were just looking to belong and be loved.
The hardship that had scattered them was becoming how they began to live out Jesus invitation to be his “witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1)
Fast forward to today – we are experiencing the most unusual hardship that has faced the church since most of us have been alive!
As difficult as this time is – what might God be doing through the scattered church today?
The same Spirit is moving in our midst and can lead us in our physical as well as digital spaces to be witnesses of the Kingdom of God and to the freedom found in Jesus.
At Mill City Church we have always declared that the church is not a building or even a gathering, but the people of God on mission to join God’s redemptive work in the world.
We exist to “love our community in the name of Jesus”. This crisis has only emboldened that mission! You have helped meet needs and loved your neighbors in tangible ways while also discovering how you can care for each other in this time. I’m so proud of you!
The inauguration of Jesus Kingdom displayed that God had left the building – and Mill City Church has officially left the building. Even though it has been a borrowed school building all along! This is also not the first time we’ve been “kicked out” of our building. We have pursued being a church that values agility more than we value stability.
We have no idea how long we will be scattered – and we long to be together physically again at some point in the future.
But until then – we will begin to experiment our way into the future God has for us even in this unusual time!
One of our first experiments is going to be what we are calling “Digital Neighborhoods and Living Rooms”. Using the online tool of Zoom, we are going to begin to connect people geographically online, hoping that soon small amounts of people can gather physically when it is safe and people feel ready.
These groups will meet right after our worship service for a half hour with hosts ready to spark conversation.
These Digital Neighborhoods will be oriented around geography, but not limited to geography. They will be open and not exclusive so ANYONE can join in – especially spiritually curious neighbors and friends!
How might God’s Spirit draw people to Jesus and use us and our homes as a conduit for people coming to know Him?
Do your Mill City Friends live across town from you? You can totally join their digital neighborhood!
Have a friend curious about Jesus but they don’t live close? No problem, invite them to your living room anyway!
Let’s breakdown the details:
- MCC Sunday Worship will continue to be streamed online on Facebook and YouTube. The service will be slightly shorter in part because of the Summer rhythms and the opportunity to enjoy the daylight.
- Everyone who we have an address for will be personally invited to a Digital Neighborhood. After the service they will be able to join their digital neighborhood on zoom.
- After a few minutes together as a large group, the facilitator will break the group into smaller Living Rooms. Studies show that Zoom calls are less tiring with smaller groups and allow for greater depth of conversation.
- The hosts will be encouraged to end the formal time within a half hour. Those who want to stay connected longer may choose ways to do so.
- As the health situation we are facing unfolds, groups may determine that some people would like to gather in physical living rooms/back yards etc. No one will be left out – the digital option will remain available for those who would like to stay home and for those at risk.
- Now that folks are connected geographically, the members can choose organic ways to connect, support each other and love their neighbors in the name of Jesus.
- These groups will have the opportunity to connect UP with God, IN with each other and to look OUT to love our neighbors as ourself.
- Resources will also be given to support kids who are a part of the Neighborhoods. We love our kids and want them to know we see them as a part of the church now – not merely the future.
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