Norwich church finds a path through the maze
How do you keep the congregation together as churches re-open and services resume? Andy Rees, lead pastor at Surrey Chapel, describes how his church has recognised the best route.
It’s a roller-coaster ride for church members and leaders alike as we seek to navigate a wise path out of lockdown to meet back together. One of the key issues Surrey Chapel has been working through is how to maintain unity in all of this.
There will be some people for whom it would be unwise to come back, others who will take a while to grow in confidence to, and a group who will take no convincing at all. We don’t want people to be left out, and so we are working on the technology around live streaming so people can still be part of our Sunday services whether they are there physically or not.
With the guidelines for coming back to church including no singing or speaking to people who are outside your bubble whilst in the building, it makes for what will feel like a very diminished form of church. However, we do think there is something about the physical gathering of the church family (or smaller groups of the family in multiple services) which outweighs lots of the challenges of actually doing it.
We are planning to run multiple shorter all-age services, with cleaning in between and no children’s work initially. But we’ll do the core business of church, where we’ll encourage each other with the word of God, praise in our hearts, pray in the light of his promises and hear the word of God preached.
One of the great opportunities for us during lockdown was contact through a local primary school with a number of families who were struggling in various ways. We set up a compassion fund, that the church family gave to, which enabled us to buy a weekly shop for 15 families in total. Ten of these we were able to support for 9 weeks.
Individuals from church were in contact with a family each, took their order, and bought them the food. It has been a really wonderful way to socially engage with these families in need and serve them practically. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and they have been amazed that people they don’t know have been willing to help them in this way.
It’s led us to run some on-line webinars on anxiety, money problems and depression, which are now accessible on the Surrey Chapel YouTube page. We pray there will be eternal fruit as we seek to serve our community and share the message of God’s outrageous grace to us in Christ.
Pictured above is Andy Rees