Leading Forward from the Pandemic
At Countess Free Church we are not talking about ‘going back to church’. The simplest reason for this is that our church never shut, and has been active all through the past troubled months. Another reason is that we sense God has been leading us through right from the beginning, and now wants to lead us forward further still – so for us it is not a case of looking back …
The pandemic has been hard for us all. We have had to dig deep in our faith and sharpen our spiritual rhythms. We have done this together, for the church is ‘people who follow Jesus‘. In fact not being able to physically meet has led us back to this fundamental understanding over and over. The different diet of the past year (including Zoom meetings, video podcast messages, and individuals contacting each other to spur one another on) has actually been beneficial to us as a body. This is just like a human body – sometimes we need a special diet to work towards greater health!
Just as with any special food diet, there may be aspects that are temporary for the season, and others that you want to stick with in the longer term. It is the same for us spiritually – we are now asking members to think carefully, to go forward with a better balance for greater spiritual health and effectiveness.
We have strategically invested in equipping Family Discipleship Together – resources to bring discipleship back to the kitchen table. This is a priority we want to keep beyond the pandemic. We also saw new groups start up – typically using Zoom, but more importantly trying out new simpler formats of discipleship shared together. Some of these have aimed at all ages, and have been able to invite friends who are exploring faith.
Furthermore we have encouraged people to be bold and have a go, taking initiative with neighbours, colleagues or in certain places. We have called these micro-initiatives – small and simple, but something that ordinary believers can imagine, plan and do for themselves. We have seen faith grow and members learn as they have stepped out in faith. This is certainly an emphasis we don’t want to lose going forward.
And we have seen God move! New people have joined the church, we have some people considering baptism, and other newcomers starting with us a journey of discovering faith in Jesus … all the stuff of church!
Going forward we want to continue following Jesus, seeking greater spiritual depth for young and old, and seeing the Lord powerfully present among us at every level (in small initiatives as well as large gatherings). We want to position ourselves for the Lord leading us out in His purposes. A picture offered to us had the past year being like a big canyon opening up (the language of ‘Before Covid’ and ‘After Covid’ is now used by many commentators). In this picture the Spirit wants to lead us as a church across onto the other side. For sure it will be different. We will find new adventure, and not everything will revert to how it was. Yet we will be following the same Jesus, Lord and Saviour!