More people have signed up to evangelistic course Alpha in a week than in a normal term at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB).
The leader of influential charismatic church HTB in London, Nicky Gumbel, has said the coronavirus outbreak has brought the church innumerable opportunities to share the gospel.
Speaking to Premier, the founder of the Alpha Course said broadcasting church online is reaching far more people than it did before and that people are asking big questions about life and death.
Nicky Gumbel said: "I think last week we had 308 people sign up for on line Alpha at HTB, just on our one. I mean, we often have several hundred people on the course but I don't think in a week - the course only finished last Wednesday! And 308 people have signed up for this week!
"So we're starting Alpha this week, we're starting next week...every week a new Alpha Course will start in the morning and in the evening. We couldn't do that when you're meeting with food and all the rest of it. You can only do three a year. We're starting two every week."
He added that more people can come to Alpha because they don't need to sort out child care.
Commenting on the church more widely, Gumbel said coronavirus and the lockdown will have a huge impact: "It will definitely change the way we do church. I can't imagine not being online every Sunday in some form because the moment we did it, we reached so many more people. Every Sunday we have so many more people engaged in our services now than we ever had before.
"Tricia Neal who is the president of Alpha , she told me that the first Sunday went online she's sent it to 10 of her friends, none of whom go to church, and they all watched and they all loved it. They wouldn't have come to church, they wouldn't have travelled in, spent the whole morning coming to a service, but in the comfort of their home with a cup of coffee, they can sit down and they can be engaged in the service.
"Now we all know that's not the ideal way to do church. And church, as we've always said, it's not about a building! You don't go to church, you are the church. So the first 400 years of the church's life, there were no church buildings - everyone met in homes. So it is slightly different, but we are getting back to being in homes. That's the church so let's make the most of it."
Nicky Gumbel also spoke about his wife Pippa, who has underlying health conditions after having surgery for lung cancer, and how it has made them more cautious: "We're trying to get everything delivered to our house...I've got to be quite careful."
Watch the full interview here: