Dear Everyday Church family,
Given that the UK government still shows no sign of permitting us to resume our Sunday services at our buildings, I thought that you might find it helpful if I wrote a brief blog to update you on what is happening across our church as we begin a new term together. These are frustrating times, but not fruitless times, and I do hope that you can see something of the hand of God at work amidst all of this year’s great upheavals.
Somebody has said that if you want to learn chess, then you need to remove your queen from the board so that you learn to play well with the other, more neglected pieces. Then, when you put the queen back on the board, you will play a much better game moving forward. That’s one of the metaphors that we have been using in our discussions together as whole-church elders. It feels to us a little bit as though our Sunday services have for a long time been our ‘queen’. They will still play a big role in the life of our church in the post-Covid world, but it feels as though God wants to teach us in this season some important lessons about our Everyday Discipleship, about our Life Groups and about our informal, life-on-life discipleship of one another. Like you probably, I have experienced moments of grief over what we are not able to do together as a church right now, but we have grown convinced as whole-church elders that God wants us to focus on what we CAN do in this season, rather than getting frustrated about the things that we CAN’T do. We are to make the most of whatever the government guidelines permit us to do, while submitting to the government restrictions in faith that this is all part of God’s plan for us. By losing our ‘queen’ for a season, we will learn important lessons about what it means for us to be the church that Jesus truly wants us to be.
This is a season for us to re-evaluate together. On Sunday 6th September, we will begin a new sermon series entitled Start Again: Rebooting our lives from Genesis 1-12. We will be going to go back to the first twelve chapters of the Bible, where the Lord lays out foundational principles for how he wants his people to live together. We will reflect together on what God is trying to say to us through this turn-off-and-on-again moment for our lives. I’m convinced the Lord has vital things to say to us as we gather together in humility before him.
This is a season for us to go deeper into God’s Word together. We are launching the new Everyday Church App on Sunday 6th September. I’ve had a sneak preview and I think that you are going to love it! The app will deliver Everyday Devotions to your phone each day so that you and your church friends can be reading the same Scriptures, reflecting on the same questions and praying over the same things. It’s going to fuel many of our conversations together between now and Christmas. Each day’s devotions should take you no more than ten minutes, but they will form a vital aspect of our ongoing conversation together about what God wants to do in us as we Start Again together. You can already download the app by searching for “Everyday Church UK” on the Apple and Google Play stores. The content will go fully live on Monday 7th September.
This is a season for us to keep on meeting together in person. The UK government has given us plenty of freedom to meet up with one another and to pursue the kind of life-on-life discipleship that we find commended to us throughout the New Testament. We can gather together in groups of 6 in a garden, cafe, park or pub to read the Bible and to pray together. We can meet up as two households to enjoy the online service together. We can go out prayer-walking in pairs. All of these are things that we longed to do together during lockdown, so let’s make the most of the fact that we can do these things together now. For example, why not consider who you could ask to meet up with you regularly to discuss what you are learning through your Everyday Devotions? Hebrews 10:24-25 is in the Bible for a reason, so let’s not give up the habit of meeting together!
This is a season for us to make the most of our online church gatherings. Christian maturity in this season means guarding against the temptation to think and act as if we have no large-scale Everyday Church gatherings right now. Our weekly online service is our real Sunday service and it provides us with an excellent opportunity to connect with church friends in the built-in chat-room, or via Zoom or Whatsapp after the service if you pre-arrange to attend church at the same time and then to call one another. On the homepage of our new church app, you will even find a button that enables you to attend the online service via catch-up if you would rather not wait for on the hour, every hour, to attend church with your friends.
We want to pray more and more together. Although this is a scattered season, we are actually gathering to pray together more than ever. On the first Sunday of every month, we are gathering at 8pm on Zoom for worship and prayer at our ASK Prayer Meeting. We are also gathering every morning for our 8:00-8:30am daily prayer. There are other prayer meetings happening – check with your Life Group leader or sign up for our church news email for more details. If it feels to you as though we have gone underground for a few months as a church, then just remember – underground churches are famous across the world for gathering to pray together, and for the marvellous answers that God gives them – often greater answers to prayer than they received during the years when they were free to gather publicly!
So, there is much for us to be excited about as we begin a new term together as Everyday Church. We can share more with you when we see you at our online services and at our prayer meetings on Zoom, but I hope that this brief update gives you a better grasp of what is happening across our church. Our ‘queen’ may have been taken off the board for a short season, but the wider game is going well. The coronavirus can never stop the Church of Christ from advancing!
Phil Moore – Lead Pastor