At home but not alone: How the church community can stay connected despite the coronavirus
In light of the rising number of novel coronavirus cases, many have been asked to take a leave of absence or work from home. There are also others who may prefer to limit social gatherings during this period.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself stuck at home, don’t cut yourself off from community! And for those who are well, don’t forget to reach out to those who are in isolation.
In times like these, the Body of Christ needs to band together in prayer and love. Here are some ways we can do just that.
1. SYNCHRONISE A TIME TO PRAY TOGETHER
Not being able to meet in person shouldn’t stop us from praying altogether. It’s as simple as gathering a group of friends, and arranging a time to pause your day and pray.
Compile a prayer list on your group chats, and set an alarm or send messages to each other as a reminder to pray. You could even take it a step further by sending voice-recorded messages of your prayers for each other!
As 2 Corinthians 1:11 says, praying together can make a difference to the situation, and knowing that others are praying alongside you at the same moment can spur you on as well.
2. DISCUSS DEVOTIONALS THROUGH APPS
Prayer isn’t the only way you can stay connected with your cell group members or ministry mates. Consider letting the Word of God be an anchor by embarking on daily devotions together in a more guided and intentional manner.
There are several online resources for devotionals that you can easily tap. One example is Living Life Journal’s Telegram bot, which you can add into a Telegram group chat with those you want to do this with. The LLJ Bot sends out devotionals every day, which includes a Bible passage, reflections and prayer points. Use these as a springboard to share your personal takeaways and prayer requests, and top them off by sending cute stickers!
YouVersion’s Bible mobile app also offers free Bible reading plans that you can sign up together with your friends. Select a plan that’s most relevant for the season or the circumstances that you and your friends are going through. Perhaps a plan related to hope or peace might be a good one to read during this coronavirus outbreak!
3. PLAY AN ONLINE GAME TOGETHER
For cell groups and friends who like playing games together, why not do this online?
Battle it out together and go on quests with Guild Wars or Soul Knight. Fans of Overcooked may also enjoy its similar online multiplayer version called Cooking Battle. Or try Fun Run, a quick yet fun mobile game for small groups.
Nothing like a round or two of games as an alternative means to fellowship – best of all, these games are free!
4. STREAM YOUR CHURCH SERMONS
If you’re not able to make it for your church service and there’s a livestream link, why not tune in? The good thing about doing so is that you might be able to make a new friend through engaging in the comments section with those who are also watching.
If your church doesn’t do livestreams and you know someone who would benefit from listening to the sermon, how about going old school and typing out the main sermon points on Google Docs so your friend can follow in real-time? Creating a text livestream rather than a video livestream can be easily done with your phone!
5. MEET IN SANITISED SMALL GROUPS
There’s no reason to avoid going for cell group if you’re well! If you’re worried about being in public areas with high human traffic, check if anyone can open their home for the meeting instead. Simple steps can also be taken as an extra precaution to ensure that you and your spiritual family stay healthy.
Before going for the gathering, check your own temperature to be safe. Upon arrival, be sure to wash or sanitise your hands, and refrain from sharing utensils if you guys are eating together. And of course, it’s okay to just stay at home if you’re showing flu-like symptoms.
6. CREATE A CELL GROUP HASHTAG
If you have many cell members who aren’t able to join the group activities, how about creating a personalised cell group hashtag? Hashtags can reinforce your cell group’s identity by creating a hashtag that’s unique – a reminder for yourself and your cell members that you still belong to a community.
Post uplifting messages, sermon videos and notes, or even bookmark pretty verse images that you like on Instagram by leaving your cell group hashtag as a comment. Everything that has been tagged with your cell group hashtag will be available for the entire group to see!
7. VIDEO CALL YOUR MENTOR/MENTEE
Take advantage of technology and keep in touch!
Whether you’re a cell leader or cell member, mentoring and accountability need not always be done face-to-face. There are several apps that now offer free and easy video call functions, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Skype and Google Hangouts.
Whatever form it may take, a hand that reaches out can go a long way. You’d never know who needs someone to talk to during a time when fear and anxiety seems to be spreading faster than the virus itself.
THINK + TALK
- What does fellowship mean to you?
- Is fear getting in the way of fellowship?
- How can you reach out to a friend in times of crisis?