During this period of increased isolation, many of us will be wondering how we can continue connecting as church communities and stay strong together. As the anxiety and fear swells around us, it’s more important than ever that we keep ourselves connected to God, who gives us freedom from fear and strengthens us for each day. So here are five ways you can stay calm, connected and encouraged during this strange and unprecedented season in our lives:
1. Stay connected as a church
Whilst you may be unable to meet together in person, there are many ways you can stay connected virtually as a church. Software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams allow you to make group video calls. Of course, nothing compares to the joy of meeting together in person, but these are the next best thing!
Perhaps you could arrange a time to meet virtually and do a bible study together or pray? Or perhaps your pastor could record a sermon or live stream it so you can watch it at home? Technology is a huge blessing in times like these, so let’s embrace its benefits.
Needless to say, if you are worried about missing church services the first person you should contact is your church leader, who will undoubtedly be thinking through ways they can continue to teach and pastor their church family. If you are a church leader, you may find some of the blogs listed below helpful, and this document by the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College also provides some useful advice.
2. Keep yourself fed spiritually
There are many different resources online that are regularly updated and consistently provide helpful teaching and encouragement, which is especially needed in these times. Blogs such as Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition and Tim Challies are updated daily. You could also watch encouraging content on the Christian TV channel TBN UK or listen to Christian radio stations, such as Premier, UCB and TWR.
For daily inspiration, here is a (non-exhaustive) list of websites that provide daily devotionals:
Many Christian bloggers and teachers have also been sharing some helpful thoughts specifically on the coronavirus. Here is a selection:
Love in the Time of Coronavirus: A Guide for Christian Leaders | Andy Crouch for Praxis Journal
Coronavirus: How to livestream your church service | Premier Christianity
Fighting Fear and Anxiety | Ligonier Ministries
The Humbling of Civilization: Praying for the Mercy of God | Albert Mohler
Coronavirus: From fear to faith in 5 easy steps | Premier Christianity
How Might this Coronavirus Help Churches Be On Their Guard? | Stephen Mcalpine
The Best Laid Plans | Think Theology
You’re Not a Bad Pastor If You Cancel Services Over COVID-19 | For the Church
Coronavirus and Christian Theology | Christianity Today
Christianity Has Been Handling Epidemics for 2000 Years | Foreign Policy
3. Keep worshipping
In times like these, it’s easy to obsessively check the latest news updates and panic. But it’s vital we do not take our eyes off God, and one of the best ways we can do this is through worship. We should listen to Paul’s advice in Phillipians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
There are many resources online that will help you worship and rejoice in God each day. Perhaps as a church, you can agree to worship together at the same time each day and pick songs you will sing?
Let’s keep praying for the most vulnerable in our communities, and for great wisdom for those in authority over us who bear a great weight of responsibility for the nation.
Here is a series of prayers on the coronavirus, written by CARE’s Celia Bowring. So far the prayers have been shared hundreds of times on our social media, please do keep sharing them far and wide so others can be encouraged.
If you want to keep praying for our regular work, we will continue to update our website and social media pages, and you can sign up to receive our weekly email update, Impact Direct.
5. Love your neighbour
The significance of Christian witness during this time cannot be overestimated. Reflecting on the early church’s role during the plague outbreak in Rome in 250 AD, Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, writes that the “epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity.” The actions of Christians in the face of death showed their neighbours that “Christianity is worth dying for.”
There are various ways you can show love to your neighbours during this time, whether through sending a care package, sending encouraging texts and emails, chatting on the phone or offering to do someone’s shopping. Perhaps you could consider putting notes through your neighbours doors asking if anyone is self-isolating and needs help? Here is a helpful printable postcard you can use.
If you aren’t needing to self-isolate, the Red Cross are calling for volunteers to help with packing and delivering care packages to those who need them.
We're in this together
Let’s use this time to show our love and care for one another, and to press hard into times of intimacy with our Creator, who is sovereign over all things — Covid-19 is no exception.
At CARE, our work continues to go on to be a voice for the voiceless and campaign for laws that protect the most vulnerable in our society. We are praying daily for our nation and the world in this time of crisis, and we are so grateful for your continued support. We are praying for you all.