I began writing The Rogue Christian several days after Christmas last year, and finished the manuscript six weeks later. As I wrote it I felt a sense of urgency that the book needed to be finished quickly, but didn’t know why at the time.
Now I do.
Due to the coronavirus, the following has happened in the past 30 days:
* Major sports leagues have shut down, as have movie theaters and other entertainment-related businesses. Restaurants are closed.
* Fear has taken hold.
* Churches are closed.
* Many have been quarantined in their homes.
I’ve watched how the church has responded and what Christians are saying. Most of what I’ve heard has included: “How do we get through this?”, “Don’t fear,” or “What are we going to do with all this time at home,” along with a light sprinkling of “let’s pray.” Some churches are live-streaming their worship services or messages.
More often than not, I’ve found myself thinking, “Is that it? Is that the best we can offer?” God has taught me He uses suffering to draw us closer to Him and purify us. I have yet to see the question reframed from “What do we do?” to “Lord, what are you saying to us, and how do you want us to respond?” I see silver linings and opportunities for the church during this time if we’re willing to abandon status-quo Christianity.
While the idea of live streaming a church service may sound nice, to me it is an extension of the performance-based, isolated church. Instead of watching the performance on Sunday, you can watch from the comfort of your home… instead of the comfort of the soft pews. We don’t connect with people as it is on Sunday, now we’re even more isolated.
Here’s how we can take advantage of current events and use them to God’s glory. Let’s start with the example we’re given of the early church in the book of Acts, which could be summed up in Acts 2:42:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
I encourage each of you to invite one to five couples or families (who aren’t sick) to your home in the ensuing weekends for church meetings. Spend your time together in God’s word, share needs and pray for each other, and then pray together as a fellowship. When you pray as a body, ask the Lord to smash the strongholds of fear, petition Him for revival in your country, ask for wisdom for your government, and more, as the Spirit leads you. Then have lunch together.
You have just created a biblical church. We are missing connection with God and others in our performance-driven churches. The biblical way of church we’re given in Acts is packed with connection with others in fellowship, and with God through prayer. If we can get God’s people praying and storming the throne of grace every weekend, I expect miracles. Consider devoting one entire service to prayer a month.
Go back to what has happened recently. Our sources of entertainment have been shut down and we’re forced to spend more time in our homes and in small groups. In The Rogue Christian I go into how many Christians are choked with entertainment and what to do about it, the power and blessing of silence, spiritual warfare, and stripping ourselves of everything so we can have more of the Lord. There is a chapter in the book called The Rogue Church that urges churches to transform to the biblical way of the word, prayer, and fellowship, and I also encourage readers to create small home fellowships.
The issues The Rogue Christian hits have just unfolded right before our eyes. My sense is that God is saying He wants more of us and is trying to grab our attention. Christians should be on their knees like never before interceding for each other and their country. Are we? I have yet to read of anyone challenging the church to go biblical, or as I write in the book, “go rogue”.
The Rogue Christian is now available for purchase. You can order the book at the store:
We’ve set up a page with information on the book here:
I believe this is a message that is desperately needed for the time we’re in, and encourage you to read the book.
Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, “My house shall be called a house of preaching”? Does it ever say, “My house shall be called a house of music”? Of course not. The Bible does say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”. Preaching, music, the reading of the Word – these things are fine; I believe in and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God’s dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.
-Jim Cymbala, senior pastor, Brooklyn Tabernacle