Coronavirus Updates

“Discipleship requires proximity and not just connectivity”: Pastor Andre Tan of The City SG

Andre Tan, Lead Pastor, The City Singapore // March 4, 2020, 6:58 pm

discipleship proximity connectivity - 1

I am a big fan of the “return to the Acts church” movement.

Namely, the notion that big gatherings are an incomplete expression and reflection of our faith. We need to go back to the church of the 1st century, that is small group-based ministry or home churches.

For the most part I agree with the rhetoric. There is certainly much that cannot be done in an audience-based, non-participatory monologue.

That is why my church community are huge advocates for LifeGroups. We believe that they aren’t a supplement to your Sunday attendance, but a vital part of spiritual formation.

In a small group, needs are shared, burdens are borne, sins are confessed, discourse happens and naturally, growth happens.

However, as we navigate this conversation, it would be wise to bear in mind the great grace that we have received by way of some 2,000 years of church history.

COVID-19 and the threshing floor: The Church in a moment of reckoning

It is unwise or, I would venture to say, presumptuous and arrogant to think that there is no value in a church tradition that has gone on for over a millennia. Large gatherings or services are not to be thought of as redundant.

There is something powerful and transcendent that happens when the people of God come together in such a united manner to adore our King. There is blessing.

We have rewritten the script and diluted the function of the Church.

For those who advocate a modern pulpit or online church model, I personally believe that the words “online church” are an oxymoron. You cannot do and be the church online.

It is not a progression we are to embrace – but a deviation from what or who the church fundamentally is.

Community isn’t an exclusive term for Christians.

What should we make of livestreamed church services?

In our modern world, there isn’t a shortage of communities to be a part of. Most of them are centred around the values of common interest, convenience and chemistry. In contrast, the early church was a community that was immensely diverse, sacrificial and valued the collective good above the individual.

That is the vision for the Christian community: a people so well differentiated from the way of the world that it provokes questions to which the Gospel is the answer.

Discipleship requires proximity and not just connectivity.

Do you have fear, folly, fatalism… or faith?

We have rewritten the script and diluted the function of the Church to simply be a vehicle for knowledge transference instead of a place of God’s dwelling, one where a people work through issues, grow in spiritual maturity, love and are spurred on to do good works.

We need to recapture vision. We need to be the Church.

This article was first published on Pastor Andre’s Facebook page and has been republished with permission.

THINK + TALK

  1. What does going to church mean to you?
  2. Do you think that either option is viable for Christians: attending services but not small groups, or attending small groups but not services? Why?
  3. How can we be the Church that God wants us to be?