Being Creative: Lessons from Lockdown

I never thought just a few weeks go that I would be seeing only a handful of people from the church community for weeks on end and that our offering of worship would be all online. We are in a world that none of us imagined.

This has raised some fundamental questions for me. How do we collectively ‘do church’? I don’t believe that God sent the virus to disrupt the world but I do believe that God uses the situation for his ultimate purposes. God sees the big picture, we don’t! Maybe God is stirring up the hearts and minds of people who would never set foot inside a church building; or in those who think that faith in Jesus is irrelevant. I think that God is inviting us all to respond to Him.

Our online response is to provide a range of services on a regular basis, so that there is something for everyone at some point during the day or week. Regular morning prayer can be a discipline with its repetitive nature through the seasons becoming a solid anchor from which to start each day. Midday thoughts and reflections are more contemporary and accessible to people who aren’t connected to a church yet are searching for something beyond themselves, culminating with the Lord’s Prayer. Then we provide a worship time for children in the afternoon and a relaxing night prayer, a time to reflection the day that has past and let go of the tensions, and give thanks for the good things that have happened. The spirit relaxes and we can rest and sleep peacefully. This rhythm is quite important.

The second huge aspect for me has been the transformation of the office/study at home into a ‘studio’. There are screens and cables and computers all over the place (in as safe a manner as possible, I hasten to add). I was very nervous in front of a camera a few weeks ago, the sound quality was acceptable but poor. The same could be said for the visual appearance. Gradually I have learnt and so have the team, about audio and settings, and broadcasting live, and video editing etc. It has been the classic picture of a swan, serene, gliding seemingly effortlessly across the water while beneath the surface the legs and feet are going ‘nineteen-to-the-dozen’.

I am sensing that we are in this for the long term, that we won’t just be going back to church as it was before. There has been a paradigm shift. We connect with far more people online that we ever do inside a church building. I know that people can easily switch off if they don’t connect with what we are presenting (and that is a challenge for us) – it’s much harder to walk out of a church building! On the other hand, it’s much easier to enter online than a church building.

This is just the start, we have a long way to go, perhaps we can’t imagine now what the world will look like in another couple of months, but we do know that God is with us.