God has given us access to a powerful tool (the internet). By using it the right way and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our church, The House of The Nazarene can play its part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
The Bible teaches the importance of regularly meeting together with other believers to grow (Hebrews 10:25), but what if you live in an area where there is no church to attend? In China and many other nations, restrictions exist that limit or prohibit official church gatherings. What can believers do in these situations?
First, a Christian can continue to grow personally. Personal prayer, the study of God’s Word, and obeying God’s teachings in everyday life are important to spiritual health.
Second, seek alternative options such as online church groups, television, or radio ministries. Many organizations have developed to assist those in un-churched areas to grow and connect with other believers.
Third, pray for a few Christian friends you can meet within a home group or other location to grow together. The church does not require a special building but can include home church gatherings or secret church meetings in a variety of locations. You can begin even with one other Christian who will regularly meet with you to read the Bible, pray together, or sing songs of worship to God.
In these situations, a home church can seek to follow the simple habits found in Acts 2:42-47 among the first church in Jerusalem:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Fourth, in some areas, you may be able to have worship gatherings on special occasions instead of every week. For example, in some areas, a Bible teacher is only able to visit once a month to gather with believers in a restricted area. Meeting together at these times is better than not meeting at all. In fact, the New Testament showed that churches often gathered for special meetings when a traveling minister visited the area.
Part of a person’s testimony went like this; ‘The nearest church was an hour away and the second church was two hours away. With no car and little money for train tickets, I wasn’t able to attend church. I turned to the internet for church. Via my computer, I was instantly connected to a family of faith. I sent in requests for prayer and explored Bible topics with this online community. For a whole year, I remained connected to a church family, even though I was thousands of miles from home and didn’t have a home church. This would not have been possible if this particular church didn’t have an online ministry. Ten years later, although I have a home church, I credit much of my spiritual growth to an online church branch.’
Now we at The House of The Nazarene work hard to fill that gap. Half of the world’s population is online, 3.8 billion and climbing, that’s the number of people who currently have access to the internet. This means our church has access to people all over the world if you’re online. This doesn’t mean that reaching all of these people is easy. But we know that the world is a much smaller place because of the internet. Every church has been given the mission to “go into the entire world.” Wherever the people are, we should make the effort to make the presence of God felt. Because of the Digital Age, the Gospel can reach the farthest corners of the world. we can get our entire church involved in discipleship.
Most of the individuals at our church have a personal screen. Whether it’s their iPad, phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, nearly everyone has access to at least one device. Every time our church members open their laptops or turn on their phones, they have an opportunity to share Christ.
Online ministry gives each church member an opportunity to get involved. Everyone might not be able to go on a foreign mission trip, volunteer at a shelter, or preach an evangelistic series, but everyone can share God’s love online. If a person can type and have contacts online, they can share the personal impact Christ has in their lives.
As our church seeks to fulfill God’s purpose, the Holy Spirit will lead and bring fruit from our digital evangelism efforts, through our reading the Bible in a year, dramatized audio Bible, the online sermons, and more. These outreaches we do is to cover the four corners of the earth!
A regular church family is ideal, but in some situations, God may have another way designed for you to grow spiritually with other believers. Do not be discouraged. Instead, seek how God can connect you with other Christians to worship God, grow spiritually, and share Him with others.