Being the Church Without Walls

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7

Background

As Covid-19 continues to spread, faith communities around the world are making adjustments to how they worship and work in order to protect their members as well as the communities they serve.  In addition to modifying how we worship and encouraging good hygiene amongst those who gather, we also need to minister to those who are at home.  As people who are accustomed to gathering around tables, breaking bread and sharing the peace, conversations about virtual worship seem foreign.  Those with compromised immune systems may find themselves in exile in their own homes for weeks at a time.  How shall we respond?

Framing

Developing ways of connecting with those who are quarantined or who are socially isolated may also teach us ways of reaching out to those who shy away from church walls.  Experiments in virtual worship, education, mission and outreach may offer deep insights into how we might be the church in this century beyond this present crisis.

Ideas

  • Provide a conference call (audio/video or both) that connects members, especially those who are in social isolation or quarantine on a daily basis.  Use this time for individuals to check in, voice their needs and pray for one another.
  • Choose your platforms based on your needs. If your community values the sermon, streaming on Facebook makes sense.  If they value the prayers of the people, the interactive nature of Zoom or other videoconferencing is a better option.
  • Consider posting sermon resources (articles, links to appropriate stories, etc.) on your church’s website or Facebook page as way of engaging members in scripture.

Resources

www.zoom.us offers free hosting for up to 40 minutes/100 people.  Several members of Cayuga-Syracuse attended an online meeting/training about how to utilize Zoom for worship.  A recording of this meeting will be available soon, and a link will be posted on our Facebook page as well as in the e-newsletter when it becomes available.

Shareable resources are available via subscription.  If there is interest in the Presbytery providing these resources to churches, please contact Karen (kchamis@cayugasyracuse.org)   Check out resources for children at www.illustratedministry.com; visual resources at sanctifiedart.org (wonderful for worship!).  Looking for videos… check out https://www.worshiphousemedia.com/producers/423/salt-project.

Share your ideas with your siblings!  How are you discovering new ways of reaching others virtually?  Contact kchamis@cayugasyracuse.org to share your story.

5 Comments

Thanks for your reflections. I was talking to someone after worship and she brought up all the elderly who may end up feeling isolated. So ideas of how to do virtual pastoral care are welcome!

    And think of how we might learn new ways of caring for those folk long after this crisis! I love the idea of a daily checkin… I know some Ghanaian churches who have been doing this for years. 🙂

Last Sunday I was recovering from a cold, but several folks were there for worship. I Under the guidance of elders in the congregation, I isolated myself in my office alone and preached into my computer via zoom, and was projected into the sanctuary. Everyone else did their part in worship, and people came to my office and shared any pastoral care concerns from the threshold of the door to my office. It wasn’t the smoothest service, but everyone was a good sport, lots of laughter, and it gave us a good opportunity to talk about what is essential in worship, and how this could provide an opportunity for sabbath rest in ways we might not otherwise have access to.

    I love this!! It helps that your congregation is a wee bit flexible (move over, Gumby!) but this is awesome!

      Yeah, as you well know, they are a special group of folks. Met tonight with church leadership and we are making plans for how to engage with people assuming it is deemed necessary to not gather in person for worship. Thank you for initiating this virtual space to be in conversation!

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