On Tuesday, March 17, there was a meeting of the Leadership Team at Lincoln Baptist Church. The outcome was one I could have never imagined. The church would close its doors and move all services online for at least six weeks. Having served as a Pastor for just over seven years and across four churches in three countries, I have never experienced a more gut-wrenching decision.
The immediate aftermath was one of concern and anxiety. How will we look after the 120 people that attend? What about the elderly? What about the families? How will we help the community, in a time of need, when we can’t run as normal? I must admit, I shed many a tear in despair at the situation.
However, all was not lost! I saw my church spring into action. Let me tell you about the heroes of faith in our church, who by the grace of God are showing that community is more than just meeting together.
Let me tell you about an elderly couple, who are now facing 12-weeks at home. They are phoning the church congregation every day. Late last night I phoned to check how they were doing – they could barely speak, their voices hoarse from phoning 18 of our church congregation to encourage them to keep going!
Let me tell you about the couple and other individuals, who, with a deep passion for serving the homeless, are waking up early each morning. Along with the intervention team, they are ensuring those that are rough sleeping have food, and a friendly face, in this difficult time.
Let me tell you about the church member who is shopping for some of our elderly congregation. Sometimes they are travelling to multiple shops to find what they need. They are dropping off the shopping at members’ doors and not accepting any payment (of course while still maintaining the government guidelines).
Let me tell you about the children in our church, who are working hard at home, completing challenges, sending pictures and videos and generally adding much joy to our church community.
Let me tell you about the individual who sends a daily encouraging message to say they are praying. Or the member who sends pictures of God’s creation, reminding us that this world is still a beautiful place. Or the member who I phone, and we spend 30 minutes just laughing and shedding tears of joy as we recount the day’s activities.
You see, community is more than meeting together! It’s a way of life. It’s the belief that we are better when we serve each other, when we care for each other and when we love each other. Being a community means putting others before ourselves. There is no greater example of what loving others looks like than that of Jesus. We read in the Bible – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
I want to tell you more about Jesus and how our church community is coming together. Every day we are posting devotions to our YouTube channel, every Sunday we run a virtual service on YouTube and every week we pray for all requests that come in. Connect with the church at the website here, or on YouTube – let us be a community together!
Let me close with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer – “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it is a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”