old church with cross on top of roof
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The “Corona paradigm shift”

Due to the Corona virus, the world has never been the same since the spring of 2020. It is very rare that a single issue has affected the entire world. Wearing masks, remote working, staying at home, we have all experienced many changes.

A paradigm means “a typical example or pattern of something”, so to “shift” it means we have a completely different view of what is considered “normal” in the world.

The Christian churches are also experiencing changes. Modern churches meet together in large buildings on Sunday morning, and hold worship services. A typical worship service would include a time of praise, sermon, and offering. In Japan the churches often have less than 100 people, but overseas it is not rare to see churches over 1,000 people.

Because of the Corona virus, that has changed as well. To avoid infection, many churches stopped meeting together. Many churches converted to streaming the Sunday services. There are other churches that continued to meet together as usual on Sundays. There was a news of a church in the US that refused to reduce the church service attendee and continued to hold the Sunday services, and the pastor unfortunately passed away due to the infection of Corona virus. In this difficult time, each church is trying to continue to exist as a “church”.

What is a “church”?

So what is a “church”, anyways? What should a church be like?

Let’s look at an image of a church in the Bible. The first church is introduced in the book of Acts chapter 2. Peter, who was the disciple of Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke to thousands of people. Many decided to follow Jesus. Then we see how these people lived :

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 

43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 

45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 

47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47

This is the image of the first church in Jerusalem. They devoted themselves to the teachings of the Apostles(Jesus’ disciples), spent time together, ate together, gave to each other as necessary, and praised God. In our modern church we only meet together on Sundays, but back then they met together every day!!

On a side note, the Jewish sabbath is on a Saturday, but the Christian “sabbath” is on a Sunday. There are several theories on this. Some say it is because “Jesus rose on Sunday, so that is the day we meet together”. There is another theory that Sunday was chosen because the Sun worship holiday was on a Sunday in the Roman empire, and the Emperor decided to combine the Christian service on that day.

The church that gathers and the church that scatters

Stephen, who was one of the first Christians was captured by the Jews and executed by stoning. Soon after the first persecution of the Christian church started. The many Christians in Jerusalem could no longer gather together to worship together. Many Christians fled to other areas outside of Jerusalem. The church as in a critical condition. They could not worship God the way they used to. The Apostles decided to stay in Jerusalem, but many of their followers would be gone. It seemed like the end of the church.

But it wasn’t. In fact, as the people went out of Jerusalem, they spoke about Jesus to people who don’t know Jesus yet, and the believers increased! There is a story of the disciple Philip who talked with an Ethiopian Eunuch about Jesus. This would never have happened had the persecution not happened and people went out of Jerusalem.

The Apostles stayed in Jerusalem and did not go out. Was that the right decision? Was God moving all the Christians out of Jerusalem to spread the good news and the Apostles weren’t able to catch that wave? We don’t know. But it was clear that there were those who tried to “continue to do things the way we used to”, and those who were “doing new things”.

Turning point

Right now we are in a turning point. Maybe God is urging us to go to a new place right now through this difficult time we are going through because of the Corona virus. We can meet together in large church buildings, but also meet together using the internet. We can meet as families at home. We can meet together in different places like the park to avoid infection. We can listen to God’s Word anywhere/anytime with audio and video recordings. Shouldn’t we rethink about what a church should look like now?

It is of course important to respect the church traditions. However, we need to encourage those, in this difficult time, who are seeking new ways of how a church can be. These people are the ones who will take the good news of Jesus to those that have never heard them!

1 Comment

Rolando · 2021年7月13日 at 4:12 AM

Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article.
Thank you for providing these details.

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