Hi Church family Ministry Council met last night to approve our plan to respond to the current COVID-19 outbreak. Obviously, this is a multi-faceted issue so let me run through it with you.
All services and formal ministries are suspended, effective immediately. This is in line with the government announcement yesterday. At this stage, however, this suspension does not apply to Life Groups and the Fortnightly Prayer Meeting, which we hope to continue, as discussed below. Additionally, all meetings in the Church must be cancelled or taken to an online platform unless the government's social distancing guidelines can be followed. You can see those guidelines by following this link. Over time, we hope to restart ministries as we are able.
From this Sunday (22/3/2020), we will move to an online platform in lieu of services. We have decided to use Facebook Live for this due to its accessibility and availability. You will be able view these online gatherings by going to the Church Facebook page and viewing the Facebook Live video at 9:00am and 5:00pm each Sunday.
We encourage you to gather in groups (life groups, family groups, invite others, etc) to watch these 'online services' and then spend some time in fellowship together (again, ensuring that you follow the government social distancing guidelines).
We are asking Life Groups to continue where possible, while obviously observing the 'social distancing' guidelines from the government, and taking into account any people who may be vulnerable to infection.
As noted above, we're also asking life groups to gather on Sunday's to watch the online services together. We may also explore the option of online life groups.
If you're not in a life group and would like to join one, please complete the online response card.
Our desire is that we will continue our fortnightly prayer meeting. However, we are yet to determine if they will continue to be conducted in personal or if we will also move that to an online platform. We will advise the outcome of that decision in the next day or so.
One of the hallmarks of the Church throughout history has always been how Christians care for one another and those around them in times of crisis. So, please consider how you can reach out to others through social media, phoning people, visiting where appropriate, Where you have concerns for someone, please feel free to get in touch with the Church leaders; - Particularly check in with those who are isolated and at risk; - Obviously, we're not going to have Sunday services to touch base with people so please take the initiative to reach out to each other; - Many of us are going to become reliant on the internet (even more than normal!). If you know someone who is struggling with the online world, help them out or let the Pastoral Team know and we'll see if we can find someone to help them out; - Take the initiative to bring people together (where appropriate) to watch the online services and at other times during the week, while recognising the government 'social distancing' guidelines; - Reach out to your neighbours and friends. This is an amazing opportunity to show the love and grace of Jesus to people around us.
The Church staff team have now begun working from home. We are still available during our usual work-times - we just won't be at our office. If you already have a meeting scheduled with a staff member, we'll be in touch to ensure we find ways to honour those meetings.
Over this time, we will be endeavouring to provide you with resources to equip you for how we can be discipling one another during this season and sharing the Gospel with those around us.
There are a number of things you can be doing through this season: - The most powerful thing you can do is PRAY! - Keep in contact with people - as noted above, caring for others is one of the key identifiers of God's people; - If you have access to Facebook, invite others to join you to watch the Sunday online gatherings (remember the social distancing guidelines); - Please continue to give financially to the Church. Our Church continues to have financial responsibilities through this season, so we are asking that you continue to contribute financially as you are able. If you would like to know how to give online, please email our Church treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow this link. - If you have particular skills where you may be able to help those who have issues with their IT during this season, please let us know. Also, if you're able to help us with online platforms (such as YouTube, Zoom, etc), please let the Pastoral Team know.
Finally, as you will hear me say many times, the Church is not closed down. Our services and formal ministries may need to be suspended for a season, but the Church is not closed down. The Church is wherever God's people meet together. We say so often at FLBC that 'Monday to Saturday are just as important as Sunday' and that 'we do just as important ministry on our frontline as we do at services.' Now we get to put those truths into action.
Whenever there is a crisis or uncertainty in a society, there is an opportunity for us to shine Jesus through our words and actions. Indeed, this is where we really see the potential of the "frontline" concept for us as a Church and that 'discipleship begins at home." I suspect that this season will have profoundly transformative effect on how Church is conducted even after this crisis is over.
So, while we are in a strange and unprecedented season, our God does not change and He is still sovereign. Take heart that, "Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea-- the LORD on high is mighty." (Psalm 93:4) Pray to Him to intervene.
God's grace and peace to you.