How is God working through this caronavirus pandemic? 3 observations from a local church

Photo by Fox on Pexels.com

Don’t get me wrong- the coronavirus pandemic is awful. It is awful on so many levels but in this post I want to share 3 observations where I have seen good things recently in the local church. The image above typifies how we might communicate. today. Not face to face but face to screen yet still in community. Church has always been mainly face to face – we now have to think differently. How we communicate today is the basis of how we can authentically live out being church in the future.

  1. People are becoming more self resourced in learning, worship an prayer. The up-skilling to connect digitally is amazing. We have built an online facebook community from about 13 to 52. A place where genuine prayer requests, support, encouragement and resources are being shared. It has been hard, but with help most who want to, are connected digitally to join online worship.
  2. New leaders are being raised up. The sudden need for a technically savvy team to enable any ‘church’ to happen after lockdown tended to be the younger age group. Just as we are all made uniquely different- I have seen a technical team come together with different gifts – not there just for their technical capabilities but seeing the emerging of ministries behind the tech – leadership of pastoral work, prayer support, leading online services, managing a tech team and tech strategy, and bible teaching online. My focus now is mentoring and walking alongside these new leaders so the church is resourced in the next generation of church lay leadership.
  3. Evangelism: I saw a cartoon saying that God didn’t shut every church building He actually opened one in every home. Friends and family are getting a glimpse of worship and teaching in a very non threatening and accessible way. Networks and relationships are being made through facebook and interest groups meaning that we can meet people who are normally at work or with families and whom we never normally see in a church building on a Sunday. These relationships can be expanded and developed further after lockdown is lifted as well as keeping digital connections going.

The question now is how do we organise ourselves as church to reach out and share Jesus with our community to make the most of both the digital and the non digital world once lockdown is over?

Everything we do has to be considered both digitally and non digitally to be relevant to this generation and the next. Questions such as

How much of our budget is spent on digital communications?

How many of our staff are trained in digitally? Is it in our job descriptions?

How might we run half of our events online and half in real life?

Can we continue to livestream worship services after lockdown?

How can we embrace all that is good with online children’s and youth work?

Can parishes get used to the idea that their minister is “present but absent” as they spend half their time ministering through text, online, blogging, witnessing on facebook?

If we go back to the way we were – we have missed a serious and important opportunity in history to reshape church with a new vision for the future. We need to gather (online), we need to pray , and seek the Lord’s direction for people and skills. The aim after lockdown is to be present digitally and none digitally and proclaim who Jesus is for a world that more than ever is seeking meaning and is so badly bruised.

In the meantime we all learn about another 10 digital skills a day adding to how we are enabled – including how to write this blog!

Have mercy Lord. Show us your way.

Jane Mitchell

April 22nd 2020

If you ideas about online church – please leave your comments and explore this in a conversation online so others can share in it.

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WORSHIP- Speak? Sing? Dance? Listen? Silence? Other……?

Worship from the heart joins inner reality with outward expression.”

This is  quote from Thompson M J  in her book “Soul Feast”.  

The blessing of having travelled a little and experienced Christian worship in different cultures is the breadth and diversity of worship – it is glorious!  I have experienced the colour, music and movement of Africans worshipping our Lord in the open air in beautiful lush countryside to hiding my white face and blond hair as I scuttled to an underground Christian community for street children in the suburbs of Beijing, China.  There they studied the scriptures and worshipped in song  –  but not too loudly as they had the windows closed and were in fear of being found by the police at any moment.  I’ve enjoyed the stillness and quiet of  Iona Abbey feeling the prayer and expectation prayer can bring for the glory of God in the isolated beauty of the landscape and I’ve joined in with loud expressive ‘pop’ culture festival worship like at “Soul Survivor” in the UK with thousands of young people lost in transforming  worship that changes lives –  bringing healing, forgiveness and love in our broken world.

So the question for this blog is

Why do Christians hang on to traditions of worship with such tiresome tenacity? 

This is a question anyone involved with church will ask.  Why don’t we celebrate what has been in the past and morph into new forms of worship as God guides and embrace this wonderful change?  (Million dollar question!)  As the world is getting smaller and God is mixing up the nations in travel, families and culture – are we fruitlessly resisting what he is doing along us thinking we know better?   We must keep the pews the Victorians put in!   We must keep our music in Latin!   MY view would be let’s celebrate it, treasure it and then be bold and try something new.  I can however see that these words would put the fear into the lives of many!

It is interesting that I have found that is equally valid for the young as well as the old.  and it can be directed at the young with their ‘form’ of worship  as much as the older generations. Why do we get into a mind set where because we have always done worship in this way –  that is how we should always continue to do it?   If we believe in

 

What is your choice:

speak

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dance

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draw

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Stillness and silence

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Does prayer really work?

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I was once leaving a prayer meeting at a church and there was a man hovering around the door looking in –  “Is there a prayer meeting?” he asked.  “Yes” I said – “although it has just finished.”. He then said questioningly, “Does it really work?”  

Ahh I thought – here is someone with a genuine question having been drawn to the church even if it was at the wrong time!  It is quite good being questioned on the spot unexpectedly because it makes you think again about what you are doing.

Well I thought this is a good question  and probably one many people have.

Either I am completely wasting my time and my life  in an ineffectual powerless relational activity connecting with Almighty God or I could have spent the last hour or so doing my own thing  watching television, doing chores or some other activity.

“E M Bounds quotes “The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better people.” “What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organisations or more and novel methods, but people whom the Holy Spirit can use –  people of prayer , people mighty in prayer.”

In a world that seeks guidance at the click of a button I suggest we stop for a moment and think about what we think about prayer.  Not what Google suggests or a friend but what do YOU think?

I can only say that yes prayer does work – I have seen many incredible answers to prayer – but not always. There is always the question “What about unanswered prayer?”  However,  I think it is better to pray than not to pray and am humbled that God wants us to partner with him in prayer for his Kingdom to come. Time in my view is definitely not wasted in prayer.