From the National Weekend of Invitation

Even in lockdown, your church can be on mission. Here’s how.

During this time of lockdown, something significant is happening ‘out there’. And it offers every church a simple way for their members to touch lives and grow as followers of Jesus in the process. This short video tells all How to Keep a Locked-down Church on Mission.
That simple thing is ACORN – of which more in a moment. But first let’s be clear of the context.
The ‘mood’ is changing
As the result of the Coronavirus, those who have largely gone their own God-ignoring way been confronted with some new realities. That life is not guaranteed. That we are not masters of our own destiny. That life is fragile and death more real that we would wish.
Meanwhile, politicians and celebrities have spoken more about ‘prayer’ during the past weeks than they have done in a lifetime. The rainbow has become a symbol of hope. The NHS app for volunteers has been called GoodSam with a clear nod towards the Good Samaritan. The Queen has spoken of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus and the hope this offers for all.
Bring all this together and it points to God being at work. And it’s hardly surprising that some churches are finding their streamed services attracting those from the wider community. But this is not enough.
If God is at work then we should be also.
We must take this missional opportunity
Before us is the opportunity to be ‘on mission’ by being active partners with God in this new situation. Doing so to touch lives and grow in faith ourselves.
This is something that I and others have been doing with encouraging outcomes over the past weeks – using a simple approach I call ACORN. It’s a spiritual practice for such a time as this. And a way to reach out when physical contact is not possible.
ACORN is a pneumonic with each letter standing for a step in the process. You’ll find it all set out on this short video – How to Keep a Locked-down Church on Mission. Please watch it and share it as widely as you can.
In essence, the following is what’s involved. This is what every church leader could encourage their members – young and old – to do each day during the lockdown. And please don’t miss that this is as much about helping Christians grow as disciples as it is about helping others come to faith.
A is for Ask: Each day simply and prayerfully ask God ‘is there somebody I’m being nudged to connect with – to reach out to – today?’
C is for Call: This is God’s response to our question. His ‘call’ is for us to respond to the name that may come immediately or later by way of a sense that this is his nudge to us.
O is for Obey: Our response may be through a phone call or any of the now well-recognised ways from Skype to Facetime to WhatsApp to SMS and more. The first step need be as simple as asking ‘How are you doing?’ and really listening to the answer.

And all the while remembering this conversation is as the result of what God has prompted to happen and being open to offering prayer either with them or for them.
R is for Report: Share with a Christian friend what God has done in this situation – even if it seems to be a very small step. Share what happened – much like the disciples reported back to Jesus when sent on mission.
N is for Notice God: Reflect on what God has done in and through us. In the past we may have been too busy to listen to God’s voice and respond. But now, with God having our full attention, we may notice that God has used us and helped us grow in obedience and faith.
There are two notable things about acorns. First, they need fertile soil to grow – and we now have this in our communities.
Second, though an acorn is small and seemingly insignificant, it can grow into something big and beautiful – with patience and care.

Michael Harvey


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