Social media has totally transformed our lives in the 21st century. Depending on how we choose to view it, it can be a force for good or evil.
There are several of them available to us now and I dear say more may be joining the roll call later. Well,we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zoom connect, Snapchat just to mention a few. These media are very powerful tools that help to bring people together from one pole of the earth to another just like they are in rooms next to each other.
Let’s take Snapchat as an example; imagine if it is renamed ‘Snatch-chat’ to snatch those under the enemy’s grasp away from him? How wonderful will it be? I believe that would have been God’s original intention in giving us these ideas. Well at least we are reclaiming some of them back for good use now as God I believe originally intended.
Now let’s turn our attention to social distancing which I understand may be with us in some form for some time to come. If that is the case, then the way we do church may change and perhaps permanently.
We may not be able to cram ourselves into buildings (especially small ones) for the sake of worshiping God because that would break social distancing rules.
It means, therefore, using these online media now available to us to fill the gap for meetings especially those that do not necessarily need a face to face attendance.
If this was to happen, what happens to our churches? Will we still need them? How do we maintain them if they are largely redundant?
These are just my thoughts and ruminations so I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions but not before I’ve shared with you another thought of mine.
What if God is using this as a way of driving us to push the gospel of Christ into the nooks and crannies of our nation? How you may ask?
Well, by forcing churches to break up into smaller groups rather than unmanageable large groups and by doing church in other ways like online worship which we now engage in, we maybe able to attract those who find the idea of going into a large building daunting or even boring.
I understand the millennials (often defined as those born between1981-1996) who tend to be technologically savvy prefer these modes of meeting for worship. Now then, that is a rather large group I’m sure you’ll agree and often the most difficult to reach evangelistically.
By doing church this way, we are speaking their language and we are in effect engaging with them. Who knows,there might be evangelists among them waiting to be discovered. God I’m sure you’ll agree moves in rather mysterious ways. Check out this passage from Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV,
Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”
Yes, the dry arid places in our society shall spring forth with life when drenched with water from the living spring of the gospel of Christ.
Now, this doesn’t mean we’ll completely do away with face to face church meetings, no, but it allows us to build in some flexibility into the way we do church.
Another bonus is having more than one service on Sunday for churches that can only manage one at the moment. So the first service in the morning could be face to face and the other in the evening might be online via zoom or some other appropriate medium and guess what it means we can do church on the go!
Just login wherever you are and meet with God. The older folk among us who are unable to come to church because of health reasons can also join in online. How wonderful is that?!
Now I am well aware that employing social media to reach the churched and unchurched is nothing new. But this is the first time it is being used widely and yes, I believe it will be the new norm.
What if God is using this COVID-19 pandemic to wake up the church and drive us out into our communities to spread the word? Again my thoughts. There is a precedence of sorts in the bible in Acts 8:1b, 4-8 NKJV,
“…… At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” 4-8, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”
The word of God spread following persecution and the scattering of Christians in the early church and the church grew.
Now it doesn’t mean the pandemic is a persecution of the church but it gives us the platform to reach out and support our communities.
You may have noticed that it didn’t take the church long after the lockdown to setup church meetings on social media.
That to me is gaining momentum so let’s not lose it now. Let’s keep on trucking, pardon my 70s cliche. May The good Lord continue to strengthen us and expand His kingdom through us, Amen.
Practical advice on prevention of COVID-19 infection
1. Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap is not available.
2. Avoid touching your face.
3. Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
4. If driving, wipe the door handles and steering wheel with a sanitising gel before and after driving.
5. For those working with patients, take your shoes off at the door before entering your house on returning from work and take off your clothes on entering. Wash them and take a shower. Clean your shoes with antimicrobial wipes or spray and leave them preferably in a box in the hallway to prevent cross-contamination.
6. When you go shopping leave all your shopping in the bag on the floor and wipe all sealed packaging if possible with antimicrobial wipes. Wash all fresh produce with water before refrigeration. If possible take off the outer packaging of foods and re-bag them in sealable bags. This can be tedious and time-consuming but better safe than sorry.
7. Cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
8. Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterward.
9. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
10. Avoid handshakes.
11. Maintain a safe distance from others when out and about (at least 2 meters).
12. Avoid large social gatherings but small groups meeting up in the open spaces like parks are now allowed to provide the social distancing rule is adhered to.
13. Stay at home as much as possible unless you are going out to shop or you have an emergency like visiting your doctor or the hospital.
14. All elderly people 70 years and above and those with chronic medical conditions are well-advised to stay at home and avoid social contacts as much as possible (referred to as shielding)
15. The use of face masks or face coverings is now encouraged in public and certainly on all public transport. But please do remember that surgical masks if worn are disposable and should be discarded after single use.
16. If going to work, avoid using public transport if you can. Cycle to work if at all possible – it is a good way to get some needed exercise done.
17. Lastly if you experience symptoms please seek medical advice early.
Stay safe, stay alert, and keep applauding and supporting our frontline workers.