We find ourselves in an extraordinary time that no one could have anticipated. In just a few short weeks the way our society works has been completely turned upside down and no one really knows where this is going and how long it will take. We can’t even be sure what ‘normal life’ will look like on the other side.
Although society is being shaken, our foundation as Jesus’ church isn’t. While the world lives in uncertain anxiety, we only need to visit there!
Of course we will share these feelings, but we have an invitation to connect to the deeper and truer reality that God is bigger, good and faithful.
We know this world is broken, so suffering, while horrible, isn’t a cause of existential angst. We also know God is always at work to bring his goodness and he will, at the right time, make everything wonderful and new.
Basically, we are in a tough time, but we know the story does have a good ending… in the end.
So now, even in this time of change, we want to concentrate on the same emphasises – up, in and out. To connect ‘up’ to God, to focus ‘in’ to love, encourage and support each other and to reach ‘out’ to the world with help and hope.
Here is some information about how we are going to respond to these changes. The biggest change is we can’t gather. So our Sunday services, Hubs and ministries won’t be holding meetings. However, we can continue to connect, just in different forms.
So here are some important things to consider:
Firstly, practical loving care. We need to be looking after one another and our communities.
Carry each other’s burdens – Gal 6:2
The church is family so we must care for each other. If you’re struggling, whether with practical needs (such as shopping and supplies) or with anxiety and concerns, you need to let someone know.
Hubs are supportive communities and so use your WhatsApp group to ask for help, prayer or support.
If you’re not in a Hub but are connected to others in the church – I know a number of Core Groups have continued to meet informally – then reach out to these people.
If you don’t have any of these sorts of connections in the church then get in touch with the office on 01392 426060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If someone gets in touch with you for support and you’re not sure what to do or feel you can’t help, then, again, get in touch with the office.
Love your neighbour – Mark 12:31
We also have a responsibility and opportunity to be caring for those around us. This may be practical help, but also remember the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us!
More than delivering toilet roll and pasta we can model and incarnate peace, hope and joy in the midst of people’s anxiety and panic.
We’ve redone the “Can I help?” cards and if you would like some to deliver to your neighbours let us know and we’ll get them to you (let us know how many you want).
We’ve redesigned them and now the back is blank for you to put a message on – perhaps you might want to say you’re setting up a WhatsApp group for your street and people can text you if they want to be involved. Maybe this could lead to doing a Skype book club or online chess or whatever – some of the best ideas are probably still to be thought of.
The important thing is that beyond just looking after our neighbours we have a fantastic opportunity to be involved in creating community.
This is also a great opportunity for Hubs who have already been praying over neighbourhoods and I know people in Hubs have been leafleting and praying for streets and areas they don’t live in!
Beyond caring for others, secondly we need to think how we will be church community…
We’re not doing any church gatherings until the situation improves – this includes Sunday mornings, Hubs, ministry meetings, practices, Vision Night, Easter activities and so on. Potentially this could go on for months.
However it is important we are still pressing into God and church-family, perhaps all the more so at this time.
Our Sunday Service
We will be doing an online service at the normal time – 10:30am on Sunday.
We won’t be trying to replicate an online version of a normal Sunday service. Details will follow, but we’re aiming for about 20-30 minutes, where we really want to encourage everyone to purposely set aside the time and choose to engage with this activity.
We will message out details for how to join this streamed service, as well as suggestions about how to make the most of it.
Launch and Elevate
We are preparing material and resources for parents and carers to use with their children. These will come out on Saturday morning as a “Thought for the Weekend”. The idea is families can sit down together for 30 minutes and engage in an activity to focus on God. There will be different activities for children and youth.
This is a great chance to start some new practices and rhythms in our families.
Beyond all this we have some other ideas about other new ways to thrive as a community in our worship of God, our love for one another and our co-mission to the world around us.
Finally, I feel the theme coming out of this situation is ownership – it’s about taking responsibility for things and not sitting back and thinking someone else will do it.
It’s about ownership of our own spiritual health, ownership of discipling our children, ownership of caring for friends in the church and ownership of the mission God calls us to.
Watch this space…
Obviously we’re in uncharted territory; things will change and adapt, so it’s important you stay up to date. We will put information on Facebook, our website and use ChruchSuite to email. If you think of someone who can’t access any of these platforms please let us know.
Finally, let’s be praying – for the sick, for the scared, for our leaders, for the church, for God’s Kingdom to break in…
Dave and Sarah