Recently I had an interesting conversation with a Christian who is both prayerful and keen on action (a great combination!). They mentioned a potential initiative around where they lived, which geographically is very much on the periphery of their local church. Having described that they quickly went on to canvass me for ideas and input on possible activities that geographically were central to their local church.
I realised I had to press the pause button. The 'central' ideas were great in their own right, but I asked why they were trying to give priority to those rather than the equally great idea they had mentioned in passing: the one that was 'far off' geographically. The conversation revealed a potential sense of false-guilt self-projection: the Christian was at risk of feeling guilty for not doing something centrally. This was ironic given that they potentially had a real leading of the Spirit for a new activity in their local area.
These lockdown times have forced us to think more of 'church scattered' than 'church gathered'. Virtually all 'central ministries' cannot happen because of the restrictions and difficulties caused by the pandemic. Frustrating though that may be, it gives opportunity for the Spirit to lead us into potentially new avenues scattered across our different locations of home, work or play.
If we are to embrace this 'scattered church' mentality, then we must learn to work out what that means in practice. Surely it means that as leaders we bless and release people to do look into opportunities they have out in their locality, even if that is geographically some distance from the traditional sphere of local church activity? It means we should help those activists not feel guilty about this geographically peripheral activity - in fact we should celebrate it, for they are putting 'scattered church' into practice.
It means us learning that 'scattered truly means scattered'! The work of the local church is now the union of the various dispersed activities - even if that is harder to visualise or quantify compared to the traditional central ministries.