At first glance, it looks like Satan won this time. Mission trips are canceled, churches are no longer gathering for Sunday worship services and some churches are postponing their plans to plant.
But even with the inconvenient cancelations and rescheduling, God’s mission is still moving forward through church planters like Brian Jones, the lead pastor and church planter of The Hills Community Church in San Marcos, California.
Church planting in a pandemic
“It’s kind of funny. On Sunday, May 3, we had our first launch team meeting (virtually)— in the middle of a pandemic. It’s not how I would’ve written the story, but God did it in a way where only He could get credit for expanding His kingdom and growing our team and groups,” Jones explained.
God supplies what His people need to do the work He’s called them to do, and He is providing for The Hills Community Church in ways they couldn’t have conceived of a few months ago.
“It’s crazy that people are wanting to start groups when they can’t have people over at their house. By the end of this month we’ll have five groups…on Zoom,” Jones said. “We’ve been reaching people who don’t know Jesus, and God has been sending us amazing disciple-makers who are ready to go and live on mission.”
Jones’ virtual launch team meeting on Sunday, May 3.
More than a building
Being a Christian is so much more than gathering once a week for a worship service. While the Sunday worship gathering is a key component and rhythm in the life of a local church, the kingdom of God and its expansion goes beyond the walls of a building.
“We’re not just building a church. We’re expanding the kingdom of Jesus. It’s really not about the church building. We’re not inviting a bunch of people to the church. We’re just inviting them into relationships and our focus is building relationships and making disciples, like Jesus,” said Jones. “It’s definitely gone differently since I can’t leave my house, though.”
Jones hopes all current and future church planters would not allow the pandemic to discourage their efforts in knowing God and making Him known. Historically speaking, the mission of God has thrived in the midst of unforeseen adversity and obstacles.
“If you’re feeling called to plant a church, think about the things you’d do as a church planter, and do them right now. Meet your neighbors — they’re probably home. Find a creative way to serve and love people, and then empower the people you’re leading to do the same. You can do that right now — even in a pandemic,” Jones said. “And never do it alone. God has brought us an incredible team, and my wife, Amy, has really been the real MVP. It’s been a calling for both of us, and I couldn’t imagine doing it without her.”