Launching a church plant during lockdown is no easy thing. But then, ministry is never easy. It’s like the Christian life—hard, costly, and requires us to carry our cross and deny ourselves daily in following the Great Master of our souls.
As a church planter seeking to launch a church during lockdown, I have been asked some of the following questions: Why not wait to launch when there is a vaccine for COVID-19? Why not wait until you can invite more people? Why not wait until circumstances are more favourable?
I am always amazed by these questions, because when I look at Scripture and also church history, I see people carrying out their lives and ministries primarily in circumstances that were anything but ideal. And yet, in a sense, we can say that they were ideal in God’s providence. After all, His providence is always perfect.
In Acts 8:1–3, the early church was scattered as Saul went from house to house seeking to destroy the lives of those who followed Jesus. It is recorded as a great persecution, where men and women were dragged from their homes and flung into prison. Whole communities and families were uprooted and unable to worship the living God as a gathered church in public, with many fleeing for their lives.
And yet, despite all of that, we see something surprising in Acts 8: the church grew! On the hotbed of difficulty and trial, as scattered men and women faithfully declared the excellences of the One who had called them out of darkness and into the Kingdom of light, the gospel went forth and people were saved.
So no, our current circumstances as a nation and a church plant do not appear to be ideal, but neither were those of the early church. In fact, their situation was far worse than ours.
A Mysterious Helper
Are we at Hope Church Bingham frustrated? Yes! Are we at times discouraged? Yes! Are we longing for better circumstances? Yes! I don’t understand the times we live in, and yet I believe with all my heart that God knows best and that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28)
However, this time could prove to be of mysterious good for the church. It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “A dead calm is our enemy, a storm may prove our helper. Controversy may arouse thought, and through thought may come Divine change.”
What I have noticed through this recent storm of lockdown and restriction is that, in reality, the church has become so fat with previous opportunities and ‘religious freedoms’ that now they panic when they are restricted or are forced out of their normal comfort zone.
Many moan that they can’t sing in church and yet do very little singing in the home.
Many moan that the pew Bible is no longer in their seat and yet do very little storing up of God’s Word in their hearts.
Many moan about the restrictions in corporate worship and yet do very little family worship.
Many moan that they can’t invite unbelievers to church and yet do very little personal evangelism.
Many moan and talk about things that aren’t eternal and yet forget to look to and speak of the eternal and everlasting King, Jesus Christ.
We are fat and spoilt as a church spiritually, and need to go to work in the war room of prayer, Bible study, and gospel proclamation. Like Daniel in the den, will we be found faithful? Like Joseph in the prison, will we be found faithful? Or will we be like Israel in the desert, constantly moaning and questioning God?
There are churches around the world that are unable to sing, invite unbelievers, or even gather in public for fear of death. Shame on us for expecting to have it any easier. Shame on us for thinking that we should be above our Great Master who suffered at the hands of sinful men for the heavenly cause.
This is one of the greatest opportunities for the church to go out into the harvest and reap souls with the glorious gospel. A nation broken by their sin, their circumstances, and the constant changing regulations needs a Saviour from the wrath of God and an anchor-like hope in this world of tears.
The Church needs to stop waiting for better circumstances and endeavour to be faithful in all circumstances, trusting in the God who holds the world in His hands and allows and causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him.
At Hope Church Bingham, we have had a number of different launch dates, all of them impacted by changing restrictions and lockdowns. Lord willing, we will launch this coming Sunday, October 4th. If restrictions change that, then God is good and there is a great victory in His providence for the weary soul.
Gospel Going Forth
Some of the ways that the men and women of Hope Church Bingham have sought to reach our community during lockdown is through the distribution of Bibles and tracts, food parcels for those unable to venture out, visitation, one-to-one Bible studies, supporting those struggling with practical and spiritual care. All of these have kept evangelistic momentum and built upon the good reputation we’ve established in the community.
One thing the Lord has used greatly is the evangelistic Bible study that our gospel worker and women’s worker have organised every Tuesday. During these times, we’ve seen an individual weep over sin and the subject of repentance. One recent convert, advanced in years, has grown greatly in the faith. A couple battling with addiction are asking deep questions and have shown keen interest in heavenly things. A lady riddled with alcoholism and insecurity has braved coming out to each study.
I have been deeply encouraged, even in the dark and uncertain times, that God in His mercy is drawing people to Himself and providing His people with more opportunities to reach the scheme with the gospel.
I have seen Hope Church Bingham echo these words of Alistair Begg, “When we can look around at the place where God has put us and say, despite the difficulties, ‘I’m going to make the most of this for God’s glory,’ we are free.”
I would covet your prayers;
- Please pray that we would be found faithful. We at Hope Bingham want that to be our legacy with all that God has given us.
- Please pray for unity in a time where it can be all too easy to be divided.
- Please pray that we can launch October 4th and that the Lord would uphold and sustain our little church plant.
- Please pray for mature believers to move into our community and for souls to be saved.
My prayer for you is that you would trust in the victory of providence and be found faithful before the Master. The Lord bless you.