By Elder Tan Chin Tiong
A year of pandemic and panic.
A year of close shaves for political elections.
A year of misfortunes for the aviation and travel industries.
Call it what you want, but it will certainly be a year that will leave a deep impression in the hearts of many for a long time.
For The Bible Church, it was an unsettling year that brought the leaders onto our knees. When the government announced that places of worship were not allowed to gather as per their usual practice, we were literally thrown into the deep end of the pool. Honestly like many other churches, we were not prepared for such a scenario. We fumbled along the way but thank God for His help, we pulled through. Now as we look forward, we join churches all over the world that are silently hoping and praying that the fallout as a result of the pandemic will not be too great as we enter into the new year. There are many challenges that are ahead of us and we need to pray into the New Year.
So, what can we pray for the church as we look into a ‘new normal’?
1) Not one sheep will be lost
Every day, we are receiving updates from the media on the number of deaths from Covid-19. Likewise, most church experts are also counting the cost of this pandemic. The general consensus is that when churches resume ‘live’ worship after this year, we should not be surprised to see a significant drop in attendance. In fact, the level of participation for our online services has already been dropping since the start of the year. At the same time, the current attendance at ‘live’ services are not 100% taken up. May the Lord draw all His people back to the fold.
2) Pastoral care will be strengthened
In view of the social distancing rule and other restrictions on social gatherings, the way pastoral care has been given is also affected somewhat. We need to look for new ways of connection and engagement with people needing help. Media reports have been highlighting increased cases of family abuses and people suffering from depression during the past months. If it is true, then there is a high possibility that some of these ones within the church and in the community who are also in similar situations have not been identified and have fallen between the cracks. May the Lord build a strong team of pastoral care givers who will be alert and ready to respond when the needs arise.
3) Zoom fatigue among the children
Over the past few years, the Children Ministry has been seeing a gradual drop in attendance. This is now made worse by the lack of physical meetings and engagement. Children are getting bored with online singing and Bible lessons. Parents are also getting demotivated because unlike previous practice where they can just send the children to class and they can do their own things, now they literally have to stay with children throughout the online classes. Further, one of the crying needs of the Children Ministry is the lack of teachers and helpers who are willing to avail themselves to serve. Pray for more workers who are ready to serve at least a six (6)-month period.
4) Missing young adults need to be re-engaged
At the leadership level, we are seeing a worrying trend of this particular age group getting less and less connected with the church. It has been a problem before but it is now made worse by the pandemic. Pray for the leadership team who is still thinking of ways of engaging them.
5) Church staff orientation to the ‘new’ normal
Like businesses that are working hard at reinventing themselves in order to survive, the Church staff team must also put in extra effort and be prepared for a paradigm shift as they explore new ways of doing ministry and shepherding the flock.
6) Wisdom for the leadership team
The leaders need wisdom and direction from God like never before. We must be ready to let go of preconceived ideas that may not be helpful given the new circumstances. We need courage from the Lord to take on new ventures if indeed God is challenging us to do so. And we need the church to pray for us as we seek to lead during such challenging times and into unchartered territories.
Finally, l want to thank God for sustaining and preserving The Bible Church. I thank God for your prayers and partnership in the proclamation of the gospel. I thank God in spite of the economic fallout, you have been giving financially to the Lord faithfully . I thank God for your labour of love in this community of believers.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as you march confidently into the new year,
“May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Amen