Lloyd-Anthony Hall is a serving pastor at Acts Christian Church, which is part of the Joint Council of Churches for All Nations (JCCAN) who are members of CTE.
There can be no doubt that this global pandemic has impacted the church. It has brought a standstill to congregational gathering in the physical sense in our buildings. This has given instant rise to pastors having the stark reminder that the church is not a building but a body of believers the ekklesia. The pandemic has given rise to three critical factors: exposure, expansion and exertion.
We had to prove our metal as pastors covering the spiritual, advising and sign posting on the temporal. This means more than ever before a more hands on level of contact, increased calls to members including video calls. More social WhatsApp’s groups. Spreading the love has amplified and therefore exposed the truth on all the teachings we have done on resilience, mental health awareness, the value in speaking to other members and need for fellowship with other believers. The use of technology has exposed our inabilities and ability alike. We were unable to meet at church but we could broadcast from our homes. We then exposed the gaps in our learning on the latest technology so needed to move quickly to learn and switch on the virtual church taking our members along the journey of discovery.
The pandemic for the church has exposed the underlying strengths and weaknesses while generating opportunities. The church universal birthed in crisis still shines in these very times.
The move to a virtual church has meant increased confidence from members and leaders alike with new technology. Our friends who also have online services can now invite us a phone number and pin code is the new key no more commuting. Our regular services may have thirty to fifty people now we broadcast to 1000 viewers per week. One thing is for sure the new viewers will need to be considered when things are reset.
Ecumenical conversations have taken on a global feel with those in charge now discussing the common issues of when, how why we should we go back to church? Peeping over the fence to see what others are doing is a thing of the past a zoom meeting with anybody seems possible at this time.
We offer clear guidance in support of the law and government regulations while we prepare ourselves for a return to congregational worship. We have made a conscious effort to engage over the phone with every member including the children using games, books competitions and quiz’s all in an effort to stay connected. It has proven to be the right thing to do. We will raise our standards in every area to inspire the trust and confidence of our members showing them we care by taking their physical well-being into consideration when returning to congregational worship. This will be the ultimate use of our efforts to reset things to a more Christ-centred approach. So smaller gatherings may provide more intimacy we spend so much time counting numbers in the pew now we will have to watch the digital fingerprint too. We are working to enhance our IT safeguarding, competency and trust for the virtual church.
The reset button has been pushed for many churches preparing to move back into buildings but there is concern as we watch counterparts around the world. In the UK we have noted that financial insecurities have seen pastors and members struggling alike and given rise to welfare collections and food banks being opened which we have supported.
Pastor Lloyd-Anthony Hall is a serving pastor based in Croydon, London. Pastor Hall has the remit of evangelism (witness) and transformations (wonders).