How are young adults adapting to church in the new normal?
Online church was something I didn’t really like at the start.
As someone who never enjoyed being online in the first place, it was a struggle. I found my mind constantly drifting off even when I determined to focus.
But as time passed, things got better and I began to get used to the new way of doing things. This year, we were even able to go back to church!
I want to know how we can do things even better, so I spoke to some young adults to find out new and fruitful ways they have adapted to do church in the coronavirus era.
CONTINUE GATHERING AS THE BODY OF CHRIST
Church going online coincided with Megan Choi (23) stepping up as a co-leader in her cell. Fortunately, she managed to adapt quickly to the changes.
One challenge she faced was keeping the cell engaged while everyone was physically apart.
“I had to find different ways for the cell to bond, and to keep the cell engaged so as not to lose the community while the pandemic went on,” said the 23-year-old.
As such, Megan had to come up with an idea: “The members in my cell would draw lots and we would meet up one-on-one with the other person.
“In each cycle, every person would have two other people to meet. For example, I would have to draw one name, and someone else would also draw my name.
“The pairs would then arrange among themselves how they would like to spend time together, such as by having a meal with each other and then writing a card for one another. If they are unable to meet in person, they can also meet online.”
Megan came up with this idea so that the members in her cell group could intentionally get to know people in the group they didn’t usually hang out with and didn’t really know.
Other than that, Megan shared another idea that was implemented in her sister’s cell.
There they had a Google sheet with each member’s favourite bubble tea and home address so that anyone could randomly bless each other when they wanted.
It’s so important to rally together because it’s in the community that we build one another up.
In this period where many things are online, attending cell and service on top of everything else requires an intentional effort.
Things are made harder by the fact that the option of tuning in to service at our convenience can disrupt unity, as people choose to catch up at their own time rather than with other believers — and sometimes not at all.
We need to recognise that gathering together is important for our faith.
Megan affirmed this, saying, “It’s so important to rally together because it’s in the community that we build one another up. Without this coming together, our growth is hindered.”
ABIDE IN GOD WITH DESIRE AND DISCIPLINE
Other than the difficulty in bonding online and the infrequent attendance in cell groups, staying engaged is another problem.
It is a challenge most of us face especially with the amount of distractions and devices at home.
Lisette Tan (23) shared: “It definitely requires a lot of determination and discipline to put aside all possible distractions and choose to focus on God instead.
“Personally, I sometimes get tempted to do other things while attending a sermon or listening to a discussion.
“When that happens, I put my phone far away. If I’m taking sermon notes on my phone, it has been helpful for me to turn off the Wi-Fi and leave only my Bible app and notes app open.”
Lisette’s encouragement was that making an effort to stay engaged with God and the church can make this coronavirus period a fruitful one.
“I think desire and discipline work hand in hand! A desire such as a desperation, a hunger or a longing for God always leads me to want to spend more time with Him,” she said.
“When I have a desire for God, I spend more time reading His Word or related books, worshipping Him or even simply sitting at His feet and being still in His presence.
“As I commune with God, I fall even deeper in love with Him and grow to be even more grateful for His undeserved grace and love for me.”
I force myself to stop what I’m doing to enter God’s courts.
The 23-year-old shared that abiding in God is the key.
Lisette acknowledged that it’s difficult to carve out that time, revealing that the Devil sometimes tempts and taunts her with guilt for not wanting to spend time with God.
But that is precisely why she chooses to do so all the more.
“I take heart that God knows that my flesh is weak and remembers that I am dust,” she said. “I don’t need to depend on my human determination or might to be disciplined, I can ask Him for help.
“And as I discipline myself and spend time with Him, I become refreshed in His presence and grow to love Him more and more again.”
EXPLORE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FROM BEING ONLINE
Certainly, while the new way of doing church presents several challenges, there are also new opportunities for outreach and growth.
For Hauwei Teng (23), as the only Christian in his household, attending church online has opened up an avenue for spiritual conversations with his family.
Hauwei shared: “My family started showing interest in what I was watching. My mum asked what the sermon was about, and when I explained, she said, ‘Good lah, good.’”
Hauwei believes these opportunities for conversations are steps in the right direction: “It is important to me that their tolerance becomes curiosity and that it eventually leads to their embrace of Jesus and hence their salvation.”
So, when his family asks him questions, Hauwei does his best in explaining the sermon and the gospel.
As a word of encouragement, Hauwei shared that he understands being the only believer in the household can be difficult, especially when it comes to worship.
To those who are unable to worship as they usually do, Hauwei suggests exploring other forms of worship that are less expressive but more contemplative.
“For instance, reciting and believing in the psalms of praise in the quiet of the heart can be worship too,” he remarked.
Beyond that, meditating on the lyrics of Christian songs can be another way to worship God.
Truly, there are plenty of opportunities all around us — we need only to embrace them.
UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE THE CHURCH
Having church online is certainly not as ideal as compared to being with our brothers and sisters in person.
But let’s be thankful we even have that option. Even with the way things are, we can still make the most of the situation!
Hauwei reflected: “Online church still functions as a church — it still facilitates fellowship. Whether it’s physical or online, it’s just the form.”
His point was that God’s presence transcends the medium as long as we are sincere in seeking Him.
Dare to have conversations with loved ones and friends when they express their fears about the future.
This focus on being active in our faith was affirmed by Megan, who concluded: “Let’s not be passive in this period, but continue to grow in our faith and relationship with God while still looking for ways to reach out to pre-believing loved ones and friends.
“Actively seek God, spending time with Him and in the community. Dare to have conversations with loved ones and friends when they express their fears about the future.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to make the most of this season like Megan, Lisette and Hauwei.
Let’s not let this time go to waste!
THINK + TALK
- What does “church” mean to you?
- What does the Bible say about church?
- How has your experience been in terms of attending service and being in Christian fellowship?
- What are some tips from the article you might apply within your own spiritual community?
- Can you think of someone who might be struggling with church in the new normal? How might you reach out to them this week and be a blessing?