The digital church has become our new default. We have entered the new normal of safe distancing and avoidance of large gathering due to the corona virus pandemic.
Within a short run into our stay home quarantine, small groups are thrust into the fore as the scattered church at homes and gathered church on Zoom.
The vital question is whether our church members can thrive in virtual meetings and cyber connection. Can they still learn, grow and care?
I believe we can, provided we hold on, embrace and persevere on Word, Walk and Watch. These 3 “W”s form the trinity of thriving together.
First, in our small group zoom meetings we need to ensure Word content. When our conversation revolves round the Word we heard via online worship services, I believe we will learn and grow in our faith.
If small group meeting online only talk about their latest cooking recipe, health supplements and newfound hobby of gardening, then it would be at best a warm fellowship that does little to help each other become a better follower of Christ.
Discipleship happens when there is conversation round the Word.
Jesus says when He prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).
“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Secondly the road to discipleship begins with Walk. It is no use talking about the Word when you have no intention of walking by it.
Thomas Watson once said that God did not give us His Word merely to talk about, but to obey. He went on to say that if God had merely “given us His word to talk about, He’d have given it to parrots.”
The purpose of studying and discussing the Word is not about filling ourselves up with Bible knowledge. It is not about making us Biblical know-it-alls. Rather it is about making us more like Jesus.
The Word is not just for us to understand. We need to walk according to what we understand.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Finally, we need to Watch.
Watch the expression, condition and reaction of your fellow members gathered in Zoom. Watch their faces in the boxes of the Zoom window.
If you watch carefully you might see the telltale signs of their sad-looking eyes, the drooping shoulders and tired look. Their lack of exuberance and participation may be telling you something. Their silence and withdrawal may be indicative of some inner hurt, pain and struggle.
Don’t just focus on expounding the Word; watch the expression of your fellow members. It might reveal a state that warrants immediate attention, prayer and support. The best part of watching them closely in Zoom is that no one knows you are doing so.
The Bible is full of this injunction to watch.
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock …” (Acts 20:28).
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Timothy 4:16).
The Methodist movement under John Wesley was an impactful life-changing phenomenon in the history of the church because the believers in their classes or bands (the equivalent of our small groups today) were watching over each other souls.
Word, Walk & Watch – These are the trinity of thriving together.
The pathway of transforming discipleship is strewn with Word, Walk & Watch.
Will you join me to follow this pathway?