Shepherding must continue and serving must adapt. This might sound easier than reality, and it is easier to say than it is for us to do. The church has been ushered into a new phase of church history and the church is forced to find new ways of ministering to one another.
Though other countries have similar Lockdown's, in South Africa we have more extreme and stringent restrictions. With the inability to meet face to face, the church must find a way to adapt. Shepherding must undergo a measure of change so that Pastors can still shepherd their flocks. In addition to that, God's people must find ways to serve one another.
We are still the church, serving one another expands beyond the walls of a "church" hall. It is a challenge, yes, yet it is not impossible. While other churches have the capacity to adapt quickly and buy the resources required to facilitate their online presence, for many churches like ours, we need to make small changes that allow for both shepherding and serving during this time.
This post provides some practical practical suggestions to help us think through ways that we can serve God's people. For shepherding and preaching I point you to the recent discussion by Dr Austin Duncan and Dr John MacArthur. For the rest of us, below I have listed a few ways to serve one another as we navigate the christian life, discipleship and serving online during COVID19.
Here are five ways we can serve without being physically present. At the end of this article there are a list of free resources.
1. Pray for and with others
we might not be able to meet together but we can pray for each other. Set aside time daily to pray for the members in your church. You could pray for a family or a few families every day. If you have a contact sheet or membership list, use it to pray through the names on the list.
Call someone and ask if there are any specific prayer requests. Plan a day or a few days to give some time to reach out to them and letting them that they are in your prayers.
Ask someone to pray for you. If you battle with anxiety and fear, call up a brother or sister in Christ and ask them to share your burden by praying with you.
2. Plan Online Discipleship
In South Africa we have a strict Lockdown laws. This means we can't have anyone over for a cup of coffee, so in our case, we need to plan an online meeting. Use video apps like Skype, Zoom or WhatApp which enables you to see people and have family or group discussions.
Discipleship can continue. We need to find practical ways to encourage one another through this time.
Read a book and encourage someone to read it with you. Encourage a family to join your family in reading through a bible book, a christian book, or discuss a video lecture (on any theological, parenting, marriage, christian growth topic) you watched independently.
Reach out to someone new or new to you. There may be people in the church whom you never spoke to before. Call them and share a cup of Java (which is coffee, but tea is ok too) over the web. For bigger churches this might be easier, but smaller churches, think about those who don't naturally talk to when the church meets, reach out to them.
Create a habit of spending time together.
3. Encourage One another
Many believers are at home and are seeking ways to make good use of their time. One way you can honor the Lord with your "spare time" is to seek to encourage someone during the day.
Send a text, WhatApp, Call or Facetime someone with scripture verses, devotions, or discuss some observation from your morning reading or devotion.
Encourage others by sharing with them some of your favorite sermons, texts, or resources that have helped you through difficult times.
4. Seek Ways to Serve
Online groups are great ways to continue to minister to God's people.
Older women can continue to teach younger women.
Older men can continue counsel and teach younger men.
Create an online group for children's ministry, puppet shows, reading time, dress up for super hero day and use it as an avenue to share the gospel.
Read and discuss a book with teens, men, women or families.
Call the elderly, read to them.
Buy and share Ebooks so that you could read it together.
Delivery services are still working. You can have food or other essentials delivered to someone's house.
Offer to take care of the recording, streaming or ways to facilitate church online. Pastors are not always the most up to date with the latest software and apps available. If you know, or can help, offer your services.
5. Share the Gospel
Do not neglect the responsibility to share the gospel.
Use online tracks, use vlogs, use blogs, use every opportunity that God occasions us to declare the glories of Christ.
Social media is the most common way through which people communicate today. Use it. Create an online track that can be shared by church members.
Take a tract along to the shop, give it to the teller, usher, cleaners.
Take time to talk about the gospel as you spend time at waiting at the teller.
Pray for those who are not saved.
A Biblical Reminder of our responsibility to one another
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 (ESV).
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV).
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16 (ESV).
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13 (ESV).
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (ESV).
that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25 (ESV).
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (ESV).
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 (ESV).
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15 (ESV).
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, Ephesians 4:2 (ESV).
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV).
Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (ESV).
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24 (ESV).
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9 (ESV).
and the list goes on...
Some free resources we can use in discipleship and counseling.
https://www.monergism.com/topics/free-ebooks (we do not endorse everything on this site, please contact your pastors for advice)
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/14-free-ebooks-for-you (we do not endorse everything on this site, please contact your pastors for advice)
https://www.crossway.org/articles/free-ebook-the-keys-to-spiritual-growth/ (we do not endorse everything on this site, please contact your pastors for advice)
https://www.desiringgod.org/books/all (we do not endorse everything on this site, please contact your pastors for advice)
https://www.monergism.com/duties-parents-ebook (both Father's and Mother's)
End of Article.