Naturally questions are arising about what “church” looks like at this unusual time. Let me take a stab at answering some queries.
1. Have all Greenview’s gatherings and face to face activities ceased? Yes they have. We’re seeking comply with the government’s strong guidelines. At this time (as at any time) we want to be good citizens of our country and good neighbours to those around us.
2. Are Sunday services still happening at Greenview? Yes, but not as we know it. People are invited to engage with our “remote” Sunday services. These services will appear on the blog every Sunday morning. They will include notices, prayers, songs and a weekly sermon. Admittedly, some elements of our usual meetings are difficult (if not impossible) to replicate remotely, but we’re trying to think creatively about what can helpfully be built in. For example, this Sunday we’re going to be trialling a post-service “virtual tea and coffee” chat!
3. What should my expectations be about this new form of Sunday worship? Not too low, not too high. On the one hand we should be positive. Through the wonders of technology we can be genuinely edified by an ‘online’ prayer or a pre-recorded sermon. On the other hand, nothing can ever replace the incarnational meeting of church. Online church will never match that tangible and visceral experience. And it’s good that we feel that loss. We should long for a return to the normality that we so often take for granted.
4. Is there provision for the children and young people? Our excellent youth leaders and Sunday School teachers, in conjunction with Laura Porteous, are trying to provide the best support that they can. At the same time, this is a great opportunity for families to refocus on their own spiritual routines and devotions.
5. How is pastoral care being provided at this time? Sadly our care for each other is having to be done remotely: over the phone or by video call. Our Community Groups, which are key places for pastoral care, are thinking together about how to practically support their more elderly or vulnerable members. All our groups are seeking to communicate regularly via WhatsApp, as well as virtually meeting online for encouragement and prayer. If you have any concerns that you’d like to share with us or have prayed about, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the other leaders.
6. How can I keep informed of what’s going on? If you’re a member of the church you should already be receiving a regular enews from the elders. For everyone else we will be updating the blog and the Co-Vid 19 update page with any essential pieces of information. If you don’t follow the church on Facebook, that is another page we will frequently update.
7. What might God be saying to us as a church during this time? This is a hard question to answer… but I reckon we can confidently say that God is shaking everything up. As this helpful article suggests we are being driven back (in some ways) towards a more New Testament dynamic. We are being humbled to pray. We’re learning to love. We’re being challenged about who, or in what, we are trusting. We’re rediscovering the importance of “family worship” and learning that we need to pursue God as individuals too.
8. What opportunities are there for us at this moment? There are many! Some of us have already had great conversations with our neighbours (at appropriate social distances of course!). As people spend more time at home, and as churches ‘go online’, there is the remarkable possibility that many more non-church goers are being exposed to the gospel than normal.
We have long prayed that God will wake up our nation and world to the fragility of life and the need to know Jesus Christ. Could this difficult situation, with all of it’s many challenges, be something of the answer to that prayer?