What is a microchurch, and is it a good or bad development?
A microchurch is a local community of God’s people seeking to love God and its neighbors by participating in God’s mission in a simple and relational way in its context. In other words, it’s the church in micro form! Microchurches find their purpose and identity in being God’s sent ones. That missional grounding shapes their worship, discipleship, and life together in their neighborhoods. They usually meet in one another’s homes, often sharing a meal in the context of their worship gathering (though during COVID, many have had to adapt to online gatherings). Leadership is circular rather than triangular, and the integrity, posture, and accountability of the primary facilitators is critical for the healthy formation of the community.
(Resonate Global Mission, the mission agency for the Christian Reformed Church, is supporting a number of new networks of microchurches including new church plants and small congregations meeting under the umbrella of established churches.)
As a missional community, microchurch members commit to postures and practices in their ordinary, everyday lives that help them discern and participate in God’s mission right where they live. This more intimate and informal context creates space for authentic relationships, personal and communal spiritual growth, organic contextual engagement, and intentional daily missional living, all of which—especially during COVID—are often more difficult in larger congregational settings.
So is this a good or bad development, you ask? In a culture that is increasingly disillusioned with and suspicious of institutional systems and structures (including the church), microchurches seem to be a safe and inviting alternative for those who are curious about the Christian faith. They also address the deep longing for community and connection that is so prevalent today, particularly in our Western contexts. The truth is, we don’t want to be socially isolated! Of course, as in all communities, the integrity and posture of the leaders is critical.
While recent studies reveal that some people won’t come back to church post-pandemic, and that the consequences of this decline in congregational life might be fatal, initiatives like microchurches remind and reassure us that God is still at work in the world and in us, his people. Microchurches and other ancient/modern expressions of God’s people on God’s mission invite us to trust the Spirit, recognize signs of God at work in unexpected ways and places, and discover how we might also participate in the “new thing” the Spirit is doing (Isa. 43:19).
What might it look like for you to initiate, become involved in, or support a microchurch in your neighborhood?