By Elder Tan Chin Tiong
For the past few months, we have been seeing many small businesses closing down. Big and well-established companies are also not spared. Many more are trying to survive through this crisis.
Even churches everywhere are quietly hoping that they will not be impacted negatively during this challenging season. Moving forward, will we see a church in a survival mode or will we see a flourishing church as we enter an era of the ‘new normal’ way of ‘running’ church.
The leaders are asking questions such as:
- Will members still be interested in a church that meets physically or will they now prefer more virtual online services? What are the implications?
- Will members’ sense of belonging to a particular church be eroded due to convenience of online church hopping?
- Is the bond of Christian community loosening as we do not meet on a regular basis?
- Are our communication channels extensive and effective?
- Are members’ physical and spiritual needs sufficiently met during this season?
- How have our church ministries been adapting to the ‘new normal’ so that they can stay relevant and engaged?
- How is the church doing in terms of local and global outreach with restrictions on physical meetings and overseas travel?
- Are members still giving financially on a regular basis to the church?
Please pray alongside the leaders as we seek to lead the church through this difficult time. Moving forward, the future for the church may be somewhat uncertain but it need not be dark and gloomy. It can be exciting if we are prepared to wait upon the Lord for directions, seize the opportunities to change our mind set, adapt to the ‘new normal’ and ride the wave. God has pushed the ‘reset’ button so that as a church, we can be refreshed and recharged for a new season.
Meanwhile, there are some immediate opportunities for us to embrace so that we can continue to flourish as a church.
1) Prayer opportunity
- In the past, coming for prayer meeting in church once a month can be quite daunting. You have to rush to church from your workplaces. Often, you have to skip your dinner so as not to miss the first half hour of the meeting. When the meeting ends at around 10pm, you still need to take another 1 to 1.5 hours to get home, by which time, it would be close to midnight.
- Now when the prayer meeting is held through zoom, you can easily take away 2 to 3 hours of travelling time and on top of that you can have a leisurely dinner or supper before/after the meeting.
2) Mission opportunity
- In the past, mission engagement usually entails travelling by ferry or plane.
- Now, you can engage with the different groups of people overseas through online platforms.
- Prayers, discussions and one-on-one meetings for encouragement can be done without having to leave your house.
- Teaching and equipping workshops can be carried out without incurring high costs of moving people from different places. We can therefore save on time and financial resources.
- Special projects can still be conducted through the local participation with online follow up meetings and feedback sessions. Photographs and videos of the project’s progress can be documented for better visual communications.
3) Pastoral care opportunity
- In the past, there are lots of logistics involved in planning for a physical meeting.
- Now, pastoral care is literally just a click away.
- Either you or the pastoral staff can surprise each other with food delivered via food delivery companies. So fellowship over a meal together is still possible, albeit virtually.
4) Teaching opportunity
- In the past, most classes are taught ‘live’.
- Now we can do it through zoom. Small group discussion is still possible via virtual break-out rooms.
5) Alpha outreach opportunity
- In the past, many people are required to do the logistic of catering for dinner.
- Now it is more efficient with a leaner team.
- Feedback from churches have been very encouraging as they see more people coming for Alpha meetings and conversion taking place through online platforms.
6) Physical fellowship
- Perhaps we are more used to the meeting as a CG of 10 to 15 people together. It is more fun and lively.
- Now, it is time to have smaller group meeting so that it allows for more talk and prayer time.
Whilst we embrace the new initiatives, we still value meeting together physically. So when the restrictions are lifted, we will certainly plan to come together as often as we can.
Church, we can choose to sit and dream of the ‘good old days’ or we can pray and ask the Lord to open our eyes and hearts to embrace the many opportunities for pastoral care, gospel outreach and still do church the Acts 2:42-43 way, regardless of any crisis.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.”
In this challenging season, may our church grow and flourish as we continue to be filled with awe and see many wonders and miraculous signs as we look to our heavenly Father!