For years, I’ve heard many of us pray for a return to the model of the Early Church, as seen in the book of Acts. In the first century, people moved in the power of the Spirit in the streets of their city in between daily appointments. They met in homes in small groups and shared the burdens of life – emotional, spiritual, and financial burdens. Large gatherings were not the norm after the dispersal that took place in Acts 8. Those larger gatherings would emerge centuries later and become the norm of our day.
The Early Church wasn’t yet a big event form of Christianity. It was local and organic, strengthened by dependence on God and a close connection and support from fellow believers. In some ways, that prayer for a return to the original model of the Early Church may have been answered to some degree in this time of social isolation.
This is a time for all of us to reset our understanding of the Church. It is not an entirely negative time. Yes, it has been painful for many people for some very obvious reasons. That pain has offered us an opportunity to demonstrate how resilient and loving a genuine faith can be in times of crisis.
What we had become accustomed to as an expression of the Church may not have the ability to accomplish the Great Commission without this needed adjustment in our perspective. That adjustment could be one of the reasons why this time of isolation has become an answer to our prayers.