Growing Together Thinking about ourselves as a church and our mission

Church Scattered

Because of the lockdown restrictions and public health precautions we are still unable to gather as church. However that doesn’t mean that the church has stopped functioning or existing, because We Are Church.

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Seeking Jesus Together in the Small

Thankfully restrictions are slowly lifting … and yet even from this weekend they are still tight. We can use our building, but with lots of restrictions – so many in fact that as a leadership team we do not believe we can sensibly hold any kind of meaningful worship gathering.

However, it is possible from this Saturday (4th) for people to meet in very restricted numbers at homes or outdoors. The regulations permit:

In both the above cases social distancing should continue, and of course people should not meet if they or a member of their household have or suspect symptoms.

We are encouraged by the discipleship pattern of Jesus, and Luke’s record of the infant church. Those early Christ-followers met both outdoors (temple courts in their case) and in homes. The format was simple: processing the teaching from the leadership, sharing together, breaking bread (being one – together in Christ), and praying together. The simplicity derives from Jesus, who sat with just a few to teach, discuss and share.

“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … they met in the temple courts and in their homes”

Acts 2:42, 46

So for this next season we want to encourage ‘micro meet-ups‘: very small gatherings of people to seek Jesus together. There is an ongoing teaching feed that you might discuss (written / podcast), you can share (e.g. ask each other the most recent ‘soul question’ or key question), and of course you can pray. You can even ‘break bread’ together if you can agree a way of doing that which is appropriate and you are all comfortable with.

Remember also that Jesus’ initial Kingdom witness strategy was to send pairs of people out to other people’s homes (e.g. Luke 9 and 10)! It really doesn’t need larger numbers or complexity!

“Where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them”

Matthew 18:20

You might meet as an existing prayer partnership or triplet, as an existing IPOD or other group (if small enough), or take initiative and reach out to someone else in the church for your own gathering – these will be up to you (we are not proposing to micro-manage everyone into these micro meet-ups!).

We know some of us must still keep safe by not meeting up, and others may not yet feel comfortable to do so. This is perfectly understandable – each of us has both our own risk profile and our own attitudes to risk. We do not therefore seek to prescribe for anyone.

Going forward our building is not completely off limits: we can sensibly use it for things like focussed prayer gatherings – for example praying into pioneering. Look out for these being scheduled in the near future.

We will also continue with a mix of podcasts and whole church zooms. Groups who are meeting online can of course continue to do so, especially if it is not permissible or appropriate to physically meet outdoors. Yet through it all we trust in one of the greatest promises Jesus gave: to be right there with us, even in the smallest gathering.

Black Lives Matter

At the Countess Free Church we passionately believe that Black Lives Matter because All Lives Matter. Every person bears something of the wonderful image of God, regardless of race, colour or background.

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Working from the Church Blueprint

As we actively pray into and ponder the nuts n bolts of re-starting our physical church gatherings, we are not simply asking the practical questions of ‘how can we gather safely amidst the different restrictions?’ (though these are valid questions). For us there is a much more important question to keep at the front of our thinking …

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Hardware Reset

In the anticipation of coming out of lockdown we are praying and reflecting as a church. The leadership team are asking all groups and activities to have a prayerful review rather than assuming they will automatically restart.

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Every Member Contributes

Church is people – people who are committed to and following Christ. Every member is important and can contribute. With the sense that we have of God’s calling on our lives to be ‘A Church in Mission Across the City‘, it follows that the discipleship of each member is mission critical.

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We Are Church

We are Church – we don’t go to church, we don’t attend church … we are church! Each of us contributes together, and makes up the whole. We are church because of who we are in Christ and our covenant with each other.

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