No services, but an opportunity to bless the neighbourhood: FCBC builds “church without walls”
Source: FCBC's Facebook page (people) and www.fas.nus.edu.sg (church building)
“When we face various crises in life, will we be found to be faithful?” asked Faith Community Baptist Church’s (FCBC) Senior Pastor Daniel Khong to an empty church building – save for a few staff members.
Rather than gathering together to worship in the same location, FCBC had announced that its services would be temporarily suspended. Instead, the congregation was encouraged to remain at home and tune in to the livestreamed sermon together.
As the COVID-19 situation ensues, several churches island-wide have made the similar decision of stopping their church gatherings for the safety of its congregation. For some, such moves are deemed as wise – but for others, they are viewed as a step of fear rather than faith.
The outcome may seem like the congregation has been divided, “hiding away” in their homes rather than gathering in faith despite the virus. However, Pastor Khong points the church towards another direction – to see this as a “beautiful opportunity” instead.
Temporarily suspending church services is not so much a step of fear but a step of faithfulness for the church to move forward and grasp the opportunity of truly embodying the “church without walls”.
Across the weekend, stories of cell groups and families coming together in their homes to watch the livestreamed sermon flooded FCBC’s Instagram page. Some families even shared how this was their first service together with every one of them present, as young children, youths and elderly would usually attend separate services.
Pastor Khong also intentionally ended his sermon earlier to give time for people to step out and pray for the homes around them, whether through a simple prayer walk down the corridor or around their entire neighbourhood.
Speaking with Thir.st, Pastor Khong shared more about why FCBC made the move: “It’s really a good opportunity to bring us back to the mentality of being a ‘church without walls’.
“The truth is that it’s easy to become insular in the expression of our faith. By ending the service earlier and intentionally sending people out to pray, it’s a reminder that we’re strategically placed wherever we are to be a blessing, and to be salt and light.
“By going out to pray, we’re once again reminded to see what’s around us, which I find so powerful. Just like how Jesus saw the multitudes and was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36), I believe we have seen the start of this in our members.”
Andrew Ng, a member of FCBC, shared about his experience after doing his very first prayer walk: “When Pastor Khong challenged us to do so, I decided to walk across a few blocks to the nearest mama shop and make a round trip back, praying for God’s peace to fill the blocks and families I walked past.
“This really opened my eyes to a new experience about what it means to be a church beyond walls. I realised that my home is not just a place I return to after a day’s work, but (also) where God has placed me to pray for others. We could actually just step outside our doorstep to intercede for the people and strangers closest to us.”
Another FCBC church member, who only wanted to be known as Cheryl, had met up with her cell group on Saturday night to watch the livestream together at her cell leader’s home. It was also the first time their cell group did a prayer walk together after service.
“It was really exciting!” she said. “We’re usually in such a rush to be on time for service and to go home afterwards, but this weekend we could just take our time to fellowship longer and really get down on the ground to step up in prayer.”
“As we prayer walked the estate, I realised how we shouldn’t wait for a special reason to go out and pray for our neighbours, but it should just be a part of us,” Cheryl added.
“Doing a prayer walk as a cell was also refreshing. There’s just something about the power of coming together to pray as a family. We’re able to affirm each other’s words – when we hear the same thing from God – and spur each other on to be greater prayer warriors!”
Explaining the decision to cancel services during his sermon titled “Faithfulness”, Pastor Khong pointed out how taking precautions for our own well-being and going out to pray for our neighbours are just some of the many ways we can be faithful towards the earthly responsibilities that God has given to us.
“We need to be aware of what we do and how we do things on earth,” he said.
This could also be the way we choose to steward our resources. Have we found ourselves panic-buying, for instance?
Preaching from the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Pastor Khong reminded us that the faithful servants were the ones whom the master was pleased with. Likewise, can we continue to be someone God can continue to entrust certain earthly responsibilities to?
As a member of FCBC, hearing these stories and experiencing my first decentralised service over the weekend led me to rethink what a step of faith could look like.
Choosing faith over fear during this COVID-19 situation can take many forms for different churches, but at the heart of it, it’s simply this: Following Jesus and being a good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23).
THINK + TALK
- What does church mean to you?
- How can you continue to move forward together in faith together with your church community in this season?
- Have you stepped out to bless the people around you?