With the arrival of the COVID vaccines, there seemed to be hope that life would return to normal.
I myself jumped at the opportunity to be vaccinated as I wanted the freedom to travel abroad again.
In addition, there have been governments and corporations that have started vaccine mandates for their staff.
However, not everyone believes in the efficacy and safety of the COVID vaccines as new technology was employed in the making of some of the vaccines.
The normally long and arduous timeframe of clinical trials were also shortened due to the governments needing to quickly release the vaccine to the masses.
Singapore has also just announced differentiated measures for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
While those who are vaccinated can rejoice at some resemblance to normalcy such as dining out and attending worship services, what about those who choose not to be vaccinated or are unable to do so? How does it affect how we do ministry?
As a cell leader, I am aware of at least one member who has chosen not to get vaccinated.
While I try to understand her reasons for not doing so, it is also hard not to judge her for making it difficult for me as a leader to plan future cell events.
Thoughts about why is she being so selfish or inconsiderate for those around her did cross my mind.
Until I recalled how Jesus dealt with marginalised communities. People who were on the fringes like those with physical disabilities. Gentiles and widows.
While many Jews shunned these various groups of people due to their social status or because of Levitical law, Jesus did not think twice about interacting and even providing them physical and spiritual restoration.
Hence, I had to stop myself and think about my cell member, loving her regardless of her vaccination status.
In the post-COVID world, ministry leaders are now forced to navigate mandates and regulations. These challenges include knowing their flock’s vaccination status!
If you’re facing a situation where you have vaccinated and unvaccinated members in your ministry, here are some ideas to consider as leaders.
1. BE QUICK TO LOVE, SLOW TO JUDGE
As mentioned, I was convicted by the story of Jesus and the marginalised.
We are to love others no matter their health or vaccination status. They are made in God’s image, just like us.
Hence, we should find ways to love them creatively and ensure they are not forgotten in our ministry.
Whether that’s hybrid (on-site and online) meetings or finding ways to make meaningful connections, there are still ways for us to show love and care to a person.
For my group, we’ve adapted to having cell in church as there is allowance for religious classes with a maximum of 50 with students in groups of 5 (at one point it was 8 before Phase 2 HA).
Another positive thing I’ve noticed is that my cell group’s attendance has maintained since circuit breaker. Additionally, having cell over Zoom helps me to see “rare Pokemon” (members who rarely attend)!
I think the fact that we have regular games nights on long weekends also helps us maintain the relationships and make up for large scale physical cell fellowship which is now impossible with COVID.
It is important to be intentional when we plan for cell events, bearing in mind the different vaccination statuses. Let’s find ways to ensure no one misses out on spiritual fellowship.
2. BE THANKFUL FOR TECHNOLOGY
I must admit that I am suffering from Zoom fatigue.
It can be so tiring. Having done video calls with my cell when I was living abroad, I know how it feels like to be on virtual side of the call.
However, I forget that this form of communication would not have been as accessible in the past.
We have been blessed with technology to connect with one another. Therefore, we should find ways to take advantage of this technology.
And as mentioned, when I was overseas previously, my cell video-called me via WhatsApp so that I could still join meetings. Now with Zoom, my cell has been using it for cell meetings and has experimented with hybrid cell meetings.
Technology can benefit our cell groups. For instance, we have a couple who is expecting their first child in a few weeks. We understand it can be difficult to come down for physical cell with a newborn — especially now during COVID.
That’s where technology can play a part: hybrid cell meetings will enable members to join in even if they are on quarantine order or are unable to come down physically for various reasons.
Finally, for members, I have a request.
Leading is hard and is made even harder by COVID. Do continue to keep your leaders in prayer as they try to navigate the ever-changing rules and regulations.
Your leaders are constantly trying to keep up with the rules, engaging members and running after those who have been absent from ministry.
They are aware of the isolation and mental health toll that has been brought about by the pandemic and are constantly praying for their members.
When the epistle to the Hebrews was written, the Christians were undergoing immense trial and persecution. While COVID-19 has brought new challenges to ministry, the words of Hebrew 10:23-35 are still pertinent to us today.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Despite the additional challenges that have come with COVID-19, we as leaders and members must continue grow as a community and as a family of God (Romans 12:10).
As we follow Christ’s example, the church cannot discriminate those who chose not to be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated.
Loving others has never been easy, and the pandemic has made that command perhaps even harder with the lockdowns and restrictions.
Nevertheless, we are called to — no matter how difficult or trying it is.
- On a scale of 1-10, rate the health of your cell group since COVID-19 first began.
- What are some struggles your cell group might be facing with regards to restrictions and vaccination statuses?
- What are some creative ways you can contribute to making cell group more effective and fun?
- Take a moment to lift up your leaders in prayer.