Something extraordinary is happening almost like a revolution. And it is taking place in our homes and anywhere we can access the internet. I’m referring to the online church.
Bill Gates on founding Microsoft made a profound statement that became the mission statement of the organisation and this was to put ‘a computer on every desk and in every home.’ I believe he could not have envisaged the impact that vision would have on our world today.
Now we don’t just have a computer on every desk in every home but indeed in every palm and in every pocket. Yes, the ubiquitous smartphone is that computer. With it, you can link up with anyone, anywhere, and at any time and you can see as well as hear them in realtime, and with it, you can ‘go to church!’ Oh yes, tell someone the future is here but don’t just take my word for it, kindly check out these headlines to see the impact this is having on the way we worship today:
British public turn to prayer as one in four tunes in to religious services – “The Church of England has said that unexpectedly high numbers of people are tuning into online or broadcast services, and 6,000 people phoned a prayer hotline in its first 48 hours of operation” “The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Christian aid agency Tearfund and carried out last weekend, found that a third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55. One in five of those who have tuned into services in the past few weeks say they have never gone to church.
The most frequent subjects of prayers since the lockdown has been family (53%), friends (34%), thanking God (24%), the person praying (28%), frontline services (27%), someone unwell with Covid-19 (20%), and other countries with Covid-19 (15%)” – excerpts from www.theguardian.com
Churches rising to lockdown challenges attracting new worshippers thanks to zoom prayer sessions – Reverend Hugh Nelson, 47, of Goudhurst and Kilndown parish, reported a significant rise in church engagement since lockdown. He explained: “If we said in normal times ‘we will be in church at 10 o’clock to pray and chat’, you would get about two people. Through this we have got over 50.” – excerpt from www.swlondoner.co.uk
Coronavirus: Churches may not be back to normal by end of the year – A survey by ComRes last week found that almost one in four British adults have watched or listened to a religious service since lockdown began. Bishop Sarah Mullally said the findings showed that while religious buildings are closed “the Church continues to be open”.
She added: “Now there is going to be a challenge for us in the future, about asking ourselves why do more people access online than may be coming to our buildings? How do we enable them to enter into our community, to be part of our community in church?” – except from www.bbc.co.uk
And from abroad, Ireland:
Survey finds people praying more since virus lockdown – A new poll from Amarach Research, commissioned by The Iona Institute, looks at how religious practice is taking place during the lockdown. It has found that: 27 percent of the public have watched or listened to at least one religious service during the current period. A more detailed look highlights some unexpected findings. For example, 24 percent of 18-24-year-olds saying they are praying more than usual. This is the same as for over 55s, but far higher than the age groups in between – excerpts from www.indcatholicnews.com
The Pandemic Lockdown Is a Godsend for the Indian Church – Many smaller churches have their attendees join the live streams of larger churches. Our own sunrise service on Easter, conducted on Zoom, drew 250 people—despite its 5 a.m. start. When churches started streaming their services online, they were surprised at the audience they received.
I know of small churches that normally had less than 100 people attend on an average Sunday now have more than 700 viewers online. Our own church, Bible Bhavan Christian Fellowship, which has been live-streaming for more than four years, saw a 300 percent increase in viewership. People have been watching from all over India, and all around the world. We have received responses from as far as Africa and South America – excerpts from www.christianitytoday.com
I believe the testimonies above speak for themselves and indeed speak volumes about the emerging post-lockdown church. I am sure the same applies to other countries in Europe, Africa, and the USA. God is moving like we know He does, in mysterious ways, and we’ve got to move with Him.
Like the bible says, we have dwelt on this mountain long enough and it’s time to move on. This emerging picture of the church is a confirmation of what we believe to be the Spirit-inspired COVID-19 update we published on the 19th of May 2020 (check it out in our past issues available as a link at the top of every issue). Are we ready for the change?
A word of caution about this though. I am not saying we should lock up our churches and move our services online, NO. Rather I believe it is another effective way of reaching out to those who for one reason or another are unable or unwilling to attend church physically.
Remember our Lord Jesus Christ promised us in Matthew 16:18 saying, “I will build my church and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.” His church is indeed marching on and we need to move on with Him. We are the church. Blessings be.
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 a tissue or 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 2metres).
12. Avoid large social gatherings – these are temporarily banned under the lockdown and social distancing rule anyway.
13. Stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary travel
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 coverings is now mandatory on all public transport from the 15th of June 2020. The British Medical Association (BMJ) have gone one step further and are suggesting that face coverings should be worn in all areas where social distancing is not possible like shops, restaurants, and pubs. So there we have it, If unsure just wear one. Remember to keep your reusable face coverings clean and make sure they fit well covering the nose, mouth and the sides of the face to prevent leakage of air sideways and backward
16. Lastly, if you experience symptoms please seek medical advice early.