Being connected with the Church is an important part of the spiritual development for any follower of Jesus. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews urged “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” The global pandemic, however, has forced us to rethink how we go about doing that.
In previous articles, we have discussed how Christians can connect with their local church during isolation and how to serve your community while in lockdown. But what about those who don’t have a local church? Or what about those who are new to faith and want to get started in community? What about those who have a local church, but that church doesn’t have any online resources? We discussed those situations in the first epside of Indigitous PULSE.
The church is universal
Summit Church in Orlando was able to move online quickly when most of the United States was put under stay-at-home order, but not all churches were in that situation. Another church in California didn’t have the capacity to go digital yet, so while they were working on getting up to speed digitally, they decided to use Summit’s resources — its sermons, worship, online small groups, student ministries, and more. “There’s an opportunity in the interim to utilize the opportunities of the greater Church, to be connected to churches that you wouldn’t have been connected to if you were bound to location,” says Summit pastor Zach Van Dyke.
“The church is a universal thing and we can be together in this time, especially online,” Zach says. “You can join a group of Christians at another church during this season.”
If you’re looking for a church to visit online, Life.Church is another great option. They’ve been doing the church online thing way before it was cool and have great interactive services where you can chat with other members of the church, request prayer, and more, during the church service. “What a blessing it is to be able to be connected to other Christians not just in our country but around the world,” Zach says.
Miheret Tilahun, a digital strategist with Cru, has seen churches throughout Africa turn to WhatsApp groups as a way to connect and worship together as a body of Christ. The pastor of one church in Ethiopia records the audio of a sermon and posts it to a WhatsApp group for the church, asking people to react and reflect on the message. He will also share questions related to the message to prompt discussions. In addition, the church’s worship leader posts audio of worship songs to the group. “They do this twice a day,” Miheret says. “because the sermon is short, the worship is short, and engagement is high, and people are constantly on their phone.”
Use what you have
Miheret also recommends using the social media tools and communication tools you’re already using to connect in Christ-centered community. Groups can be formed on Facebook, WhatsApp, or other platforms to engage with others in the body of Christ in your location or around the world. “I have my own family group and my church has a WhatsApp Bible-study group,” Miheret says. Aside from using those groups for discussion, Miheret uses the YouVersion Bible app to study the Word with others. On the app, you can find good content related to hope, fear, and even COVID-19. “Rather than just studying by yourself, take the crazy step and invite your friends,” Miheret suggests.