Over the last one week, many churches have made the decision to suspend or decentralise services.
In fact, it was announced yesterday that two huge Protestant denominations – Anglicans and Methodists – which together represent 65,000 Christians in Singapore, would cancel their physical services for the next two weeks.
My own church has been affected too. Starting this weekend, we will move all our services and life groups (cell groups) online.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt from all of this so far, it would be this: We need to constantly innovate and explore new ways of doing even things that have become routine to us.
Last month, as we were gathered during a leadership meeting, our pastor challenged us to consider this: If our life groups are the fundamental building blocks of our church, can we take ownership to lead creatively and in faith during this season?
In light of the worsening COVID-19 situation, he empowered us with this thought: If we can no longer meet during services, the life group leaders are the ones who would play the role of a pastor over their members.
Instead of viewing the loss of physical services/cell groups as a negative thing, let’s pray and think about how we can tap this opportunity to build stronger disciples.
For all of us who have never actually had to deal with this before, here are some tips on how cell groups and ministries can make online meetings successful. We hope these are helpful!
1. CREATE NEW SERVING OPPORTUNITIES
As we move ministry online, there will be new needs that we can involve our members to meet.
Some new roles that we can consider creating:
- IT support: The tech person who can be the host to ensure that the session gets started and that the technicalities are taken care of.
- Prayer: Empower the quieter ones in the group by asking them to collate prayer requests beforehand or requesting that they pray for a specific need/point.
- Dinner coordinator: Who says we can’t intentionally set aside a time for dinner together online? This person could help facilitate the dinner conversation by preparing some questions that members can share their thoughts on.
2. EXTEND FELLOWSHIP TIME
Without having to travel to actual locations, we gain time on the fellowship front! Here are some online-friendly game ideas for your fellowship time.
- skribbl.io: A free multiplayer drawing and guessing game that accommodates up to 12 players! Think Pictionary.
- Drawful 2: The team behind Fibbage has come up with a drawing version that’s equally fun. Suitable for 3-8 players, it costs about $5-10.
- Spaceteam: A true test of teamwork and the ability to follow instructions (2-8 players), this free game requires some shouting to prevent your ship from falling apart.
- Among Us: There’s an imposter among us (4-10 players), and your job is to discover that person who’s bent on destroying everyone!
BONUS: Consider taking turns to vlog to give your church mates a tour of your room or house, and introduce them to your family members! You can even invite your family to join in for a game or two since they are right there.
3. REIMAGINE PRAISE & WORSHIP
Playing music and worshipping together tends to not work out well on video because of the lag. Instead of boxing worship into a time of just singing songs, we can always praise God through other means.
I spoke to Samantha Loh from Grace Assembly of God whose church groups have been meeting online for more than a month since the church was identified as a COVID-19 cluster.
Instead of having praise and worship, she shared with me that her cell group sets aside time for thanksgiving. Every week, each member shares 5-10 thanksgivings. This enables them to still remain involved in the lives of one another.
If a member struggles to think of what to share, they are usually encouraged to thank God for simple things such as “thank God that I could wake up today”. Through this, Samantha’s cell group has learnt to be thankful for even the ordinary things rather than being caught up with the big stuff.
Samantha also suggested that leaders take time to hear members’ concerns and uncover deeper root issues.
For instance, if you hear someone say he/she is bored of COVID-19, it might actually be a surface emotion for something else like the fear of loneliness (since there are no physical meetups during this time).
“It will be a self-stretching and self-discovery time for them, so be patient, hear them out and encourage them through it,” she said.
I like Zoom the most because of its features (like being able to breakout for discussions), but if you’d prefer not to have to sign up for another app, you have other options too.
- If you use the free version of Zoom, do note that there is a 40-minute time limit on group meetings (before you need to restart the call).
- It can host up to 100 participants!
- Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to use Zoom as well as the Zoom Rooms User Guide.
- You are required to download the Zoom app.
- For this season of COVID-19, there’s no time restriction on WebEx meetings!
- You can host up to 100 participants.
- You don’t need an account to join a meeting.
- Detailed tutorial and WebEx User Guide can be found in those links.
Fazed by the bad news on social media? Let’s flood our timeline with God’s truths instead!
Other than Thir.st (our Think + Talk questions at the end of most articles are meant to spark reflection and discussion), here are some other websites that are producing great faith content! Use these resources to provoke thought or teach.
Although COVID-19 has caused so much disruptions, let’s look at this shake-up positively and dream big for God. Let’s trust that God is going to move mightily in this time ahead!