Apr 29, 2020
Mike Schrage, President
In my last post, we discussed the missional work remaining for us post-coronavirus as Christ followers. COVID-19 is dangerous, but spiritual condemnation after death is an eternal pandemic of the soul. God used persecution to spread the gospel in the first century, and He has used persecution to refine disciple making in this century, whether in Algeria, China, or Iraq.
Alongside disruptors like persecution and 9/11, technology also emerged. Technology is the new “Roman Road” to spread the good news. The printing press was invented and has been used to spread the canon of Scripture to the commoner around the world. Road networks and printing presses were major factors in the gospel’s spread, much like the Internet (a digital road) and video (a digital printing press) are today. We have colleagues (missionaries and international workers) who are effectively using technology for disciple making. This translates into reaching lost people in an environment of persecution, similar to a pandemic. Let's learn from them and strive to redeem the time right in our backyard.
While I applaud the desire to have worship services online and to develop an online church community, I think we are missing a major opportunity. The early church had persecution, we have a pandemic. God did and will again use these disruptors to spread the gospel. Let's not just use technology to gather us, but to also spread His message of truth and hope. What we need as much as knowledge of Scripture, is obedience to the Savior. What is needed as much as corporate worship, online or offline, is the work of fruitful people who are approved by multiplying themselves in others. We need a war-time mentality that encapsulates missionary toughness and multiplicity.
I am the son of a farmer, and one thing farmers understand is the multiplication of crops and livestock. If the crop fails because of a lack of rain, he switches to drought-resistant seed. If cattle don’t reproduce, he sells them (or eats them) and buys new livestock that will multiply. If your farm doesn’t have a harvest or doesn’t have multiplying livestock, your farm will fail, your family will starve, and you will go out of business. Too many congregations today have not been multiplying. They are shocked by their starving position and are closing their doors. Is God using the effects of COVID-19 to spotlight this?
I was also a missionary, so I know what it takes to multiply. You leave your comfort zone, you take a drastic pay cut, and you learn an unfamiliar language and worldview. You enter (with your family) a new culture and country with one missional goal—to seek others and let Jesus save them.
If this virus simply prompts us to use technology to reconfigure how we disseminate information and how we “gather,” we have not moved the Kingdom needle because we have not multiplied. If the outcome of COVID-19 does not include the obedience to go, like a missionary with driven intentionality to our neighbors, we have missed the mark.
So what can we do? Change, or as the Bible puts it, repent of our unfruitfulness. We have technology to entertain us and educate us, but it can also help evangelize among us. Disciple.tools, Kingdom.training, Zume.org, TheRiseProject.org, MomentumYes.org, and M2DMM strategies of disciple making are all tested resources. They are available online and free! They are being used in multiple countries around the world, and their goal of using technology is to make disciples in all the world.
Multiplying, that is my mission, and it should be yours! Let’s not see this pandemic that is stopping corporate worship as a step back. With technology, it can be a massive opportunity to step out. When we do that, we are becoming the sweet aroma of Christ. Then, and only then, does the redemptive process of God lift the stench of COVID-19.