Reaching out in lockdown

In the leadership team at my church, we’re just catching our breath. What about you?

We’ve spent a few weeks chasing our tails somewhat, trying to rethink pretty much everything we do for this new moment and get moved online. One particular strain (or entertaining challenge depending on your temperament) was that in the Lord’s providence, we had cancelled all small groups at New Year ready to relaunch with a total new structure post Easter. Suddenly, COVID-19 hit, and it felt like some form of midweek small groups were going to be the bedrock of our church and yet we didn’t have any. None. Nil. We were starting from scratch. All the fun. I’m sure you’ll know the feeling.

But within the challenges, two things are standing out to me right now.

First, the incredibly flexibility of most people in our church to just jump on board with the new vibe, throw themselves in, and make it work (and forgive all the tech glitches!). Said small groups are up and running with unprecedented buy-in, a few fringe members are on 100% attendance, and the group my wife and I lead has a brand new woman from Poland who we’d never spoke to and we aren’t sure if she knows Jesus but she prayed out and I cried a bit but no one saw because our camera is poor so it’s all good.

Second, it’s that I haven’t gone a single day yet without hearing of a member of my church having a meaningful, actual, proper, genuine, real life conversation about Jesus, prayer or hope with someone who isn’t a Christian.

I haven’t gone a single day yet without hearing of a member of my church having a meaningful, actual, proper, genuine, real life conversation about Jesus, prayer or hope with someone who isn’t a Christian.

That doesn’t normally happen. In fact, as an evangelistically-minded Christian leader with an eye on the outsider, who also has a tendency towards both activism (LET’S DO ITTTT, COME ON EVERYONE!!!!) and depression (nothings ever gonna work, why do we bother?), I’m often discouraged by the seeming lack of personal evangelism that goes on. Another week, another term, is anything happening?

But I think this crisis is doing something. It’s certainly making Christians more aware of the riches they have in the gospel. Hope. Community. Something stable to live from. Right now I don’t seem to need to gee up the “we have so much to share” bandwagon. The church seem more than aware.

I also think it’s making Christians more bold. It’s as if the feeling that the whole planet’s falling apart, that nations are yelling at each other, that we’re all going stir crazy in our homes, is somehow making Christians care less about ‘awkward silences’ or ‘people not replying to my invite’. We still want to be sensitive and not drone on at people, but I’m loving the courage I’m seeing to step out and speak!

But perhaps most encouragingly of all, it seems to be making some people who don’t know Jesus, a substantial amount more open.

Friends of my Community Group members are listening to video messages, worship songs they’ve been sent, initiating conversations asking if they can be prayed for. A friend in church has a neighbour who has now said ‘please can I come to church with you when all this is done’. An Alpha course that was happening has continued, with a few attendees now joining Sunday morning gatherings.

With all of this, we’re trying something, and I mention it here to offer the low-budget (but who cares, we’re in a crisis) resources if you want to use them.

On Sunday 26th we’re going to do a Questions In Crisis morning. We’ll pre-record a 20 minute talk, this time it’s me on “How do I find peace in the pandemic?”. Then I’m interviewing a GP and mum on Zoom about work strain, home strain, and how knowing Jesus is helping in the midst of all that. Then we’re trying a live 30 minute Zoom Q+A webinar.

We have made a simple promo that has no dates, no branding or anything on it, that if any other church or organisation wanted to use, they’d be more than welcome. It’s stock footage that’s legal to use online and music that’s free to use too, so it’s all good for social media. People can edit the attached image if they want to add church logo or specific details. The font is League Spartan and it’s free to download here: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/league-spartan

Please pray, who knows who’ll watch or come, if anyone. But we’re hoping it’s a resource to help the church, a provocation to remember the guest, and maybe a vehicle for people to seriously find hope in this time.

If you’re a church or CU or anyone really who wants to do something similar, the video is here, feel free to knick it, edit the ending, I’ve left all specific details and branding off to enable you to steal it if you want. The footage and music is all okay for online use.

If you want to use the same font to throw an image together, feel free.

Peace from Birmingham

Rich Pitt

Rich lives in Birmingham and is part of the team at Church Central, a small family of churches across the city. He’s married to a Ruth, a paediatrician, and they have two daughters, Grace who is 3 and Rosie who is 1.

Published by Nay Dawson

I'm Nay, I live in Southampton married to the wonderful Jon, we have two girls, a cat and two Guinea pigs

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