Those five letters and two numbers are rather triggering for many church leaders in Australia and most parts of the world. COVID-19 has bought each person pain, loss, and heartache. Many church leaders around Australia are on the brink of burnout. Some are experiencing personal struggles because of the pandemic, others feel the pain of journeying closely with people only to have them leave their church community. This pandemic has been brutally irritating and has caused people to see the value they hold in church community. The church as we knew it has well and truly been disrupted.
One question ringing in the ears of every church leader is ‘what is God doing in the midst of and through this pandemic?’.
Even though I don’t have the answer, I believe this disruption is necessary and crucial to see the Christian Church in Australia revitalized. For many years, Australian census data has expressed a clear decline in church attendance. And our wake-up call is here.
Right now, Australian church leaders hold the tension of a moment in history to see the church expand in its expression and reach. An opportunity to break down the church walls that have elevated and prioritized ecclesiology and return to the correct order: Christology > Missiology > Ecclesiology. We have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to collectively join God in this ‘Selah’ moment and to review, repent, reevaluate and renew how we express church to those around us.
The macro or mega-church gatherings have for too long been seen by many as the only ‘acceptable’ form of a church community. Missional communities and micro churches have not always been seen as a viable form of church but have been viewed as ‘rouge’ or lead by disgruntled macro leaders. However, we have seen a significant spike in the discussion and pioneering of missional communities and micro churches in Australia in the past 12 months. People are offering a warm embrace to the option of joining a smaller church community and actually calling it ‘church’.
I, by no means, see the Macro or Megachurch gatherings as irrelevant or the attractional church as insignificant. However, people are forced, now more than ever, to look over their fences, to engage with those in their local neighborhood and to consider a variety of expressions of the church as equally valuable. This is good news! This is movement-making news. This is the sort of news the Australian Church needs.
If church leaders can learn to support, to network, to unite with each other we will see His Kingdom come and His will done in and through His people like never before.
But it will take true unity.
And I mean unity, not uniformity. It will take a lot of different people being the church (Jesus’ body) in a lot of different spaces. This will take self-control, patience, endurance, and genuine love towards each other. It will require us to lay down the keys to our castles in order to build for His Kingdom’s purposes.
This is the true essence of what it means to be part of a movement. It means no one part is more significant than the next but each part is valuable and contributes. So, let me leave with this question to reflect on: how are you creating room for the next disciple, leader, and church to see new networks and movements birthed?
Amanda Saenz is a local church pastor at City Life Church in Melbourne. She is also part of the City Life team
that is pioneering church multiplication in the macro, micro and missional forms. Amanda is part of the New
Thing Oceania Leadership Team and is devoted to seeing multiplication happen at all levels: Discipleship |
Leadership | Churches | Network | Movements throughout Australia and beyond.