How do we gather together when we can't gather together?
I've been thinking a lot about how the Apostle Paul planted churches and pastored people while he was in prison. His situation required him to use one of the primary communication practices of the first century — letter writing. Unable to travel to many of these churches, he articulated on paper how to practically apply the teachings of Jesus and sent his writings to the churches. These God-breathed letters to the early church have stood the test of time becoming part of what is called the New Testament in the Bible. God took a situation that the enemy meant for evil, being in prison for his faith, and used it for incredible, eternal good.
While the church today is not distanced because of persecution, we have a similar challenge. How do we gather together when we can't gather together in person?
Just like the church did in the first century, we have the opportunity to utilize the technology of our day. Through digital communication, we can stay connected to each other relationally and spiritually.
We are committed to providing a live worship gathering every week where you can experience God through worship, prayer, and studying his Word. Our prayer is that it helps your faith grow stronger, and your roots grow deeper in him. I want to give you a practical guide for how to have a meaningful, life-giving, church gathering online that will help us all grow together.
Plan. Prepare. Participate.
Plan. Some people's schedules may be incredibly busy, while others find themselves with more free time than normal, but the first step to engaging in an online church service is to plan when you will connect with our live worship experience. Our broadcast goes live at 8:45am and 10:45am on Sunday mornings, and then you can watch it anytime after that. You can find the live service here. Plan when you will do this and make it a priority in your schedule. Plan enough time not just to watch the service but have some quiet time before or after to reflect on what God may be speaking to you specifically. Plan to take communion with us on Good Friday. Have juice or water, or crackers or bread on hand — it doesn't really matter what you're using for communion, just the posture of your heart.
Prepare. Prepare your hearts by spending a few minutes in prayer before the online gathering begins. Have a pen and paper ready to write down what sticks out to you, what you're learning, and what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you. On a practical note, make sure the device you're using to watch the service is ready to go, whether it's streaming to your TV, computer, or smartphone. Prepare by inviting others to "join" you for church — just by sharing the service on social media. Many people all around us are looking for hope or dealing with anxiety, and a simple invite to watch will lead them to hear about the hope in Jesus.
Participate. Our online experience is set up for you to participate, not just watch. During our worship songs, it may feel awkward to sing along, but push through the awkwardness and express your worship to God. You can also participate by giving financially to keep the ministry going. When we give, it's a step of faith and an active way that we practice trusting God as our Provider. Participate by engaging with God's Word. Each week, we have a message from scripture that I believe will become the script for our lives. My prayer is that, as you listen to the message, the Word of God will be like a seed that takes root and produces fruit in your life. I also encourage you to find scriptures that you can read and meditate on each day to build it as the foundation for your life. You can also use our app to access the message-based questions we provide as a tool for discussion and personal application.
Plan. Prepare. Participate.
Anything worthwhile in life requires a plan. Now is the time to make God's Word and our relationship with him a priority in our lives, and through technology, we can do this together.
"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:23-25