10 Ways to Remain Missional in Lockdown
At Foundation Church Belfast we are a community on mission. Being on mission is not just about what we do, but it’s about who we are. Just as we don’t cease to be a church during global pandemics, neither do we cease to be a community on mission.
That said, no one can say that there haven’t been challenges to our usual rhythms as a community. We have been restricted in our physical gatherings, so it’s crucial to rethink what it means to be on mission as we navigate these obstacles.
So here’s ten ways that we at Foundation Church Belfast can remain missional in lockdown:
1. Host your own online Alpha Course
We’ve talked about the benefits of hosting your own Alpha Course online in another blog post. It’s another notch up in the challenge stakes from simply being part of an Alpha hosted by the church. But here’s the thing: YOU are already deeply connected to people at your place of work or your own street or neighbourhood. Why not think missionally about those connections and have a go at hosting your own Alpha? Check out the Alpha Course website to get yourself up and running.
2. Neighbour Care
With more social isolation than we have ever known in our own generation, a community on mission will take special care and attention over people in our own neighbourhood. Take the opportunity to check in – especially with elderly or vulnerable neighbours. Everyone will be struggling with lockdown loneliness in some way or other. Bring round a gift or a treat – homemade buns are always a winner!
3. Listen Carefully
Some people just need someone to talk to. It helps to process our thoughts and feelings when we do that in conversation. Ask how your colleagues or neighbours are doing – really doing – and listen carefully. A listening ear is such a gift.
4. Pray More
For a start, you have more time on your hands, so use it constructively to pray for those you come into contact with regularly. Of course, you can pray for people on your own, in private. But you might also find increased opportunities to pray with people directly. Prayer could come naturally after you’ve listened to them share a thing or two (see above). Ok, it can sometimes feel a bit awkward – both for you and the person you’re praying for – certainly for a moment. However it’s worth the risk. People are more open to receiving prayer and divine power now than ever. Pray in faith, ‘present your requests to God,’ keep it short and simple.
5. Use Social Media Well
Look at your last five social media posts – whatever platform you’re on. What do they show? What do they say about you? Social media can be a powerful way to point people to Jesus and show them God’s love. Do your posts have that effect? Or are they predominantly trivial? Angry? Overly divisive? Would someone even know you were a Christian by looking at your social profile? Take this advice from the Apostle Paul:
Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time [on social media]. Let your [posts] always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.Colossians 4:5-6, Slightly paraphrased.
6. Give Generously
Many people are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. Jobs have been lost, income has dipped, the furlough scheme doesn’t cover everything. Check out your nearest foodbank and see if you can donate anything to their stocks. Foundation Church Belfast supports the work of The Larder foodbank in East Belfast. You can donate here. You’ll probably never meet the people who need your help, but you can guarantee your donations will be highly significant. Think about your financial giving too. Local churches and charities are all noticing reduced financial income. If you are in a position to give, do what you can.
7. Express Appreciation
Just a small word of thanks to those serving on the frontline can be incredibly meaningful. We are aware of those who work so diligently in healthcare and education in this season, but what about the other unsung heroes – the delivery drivers, supermarket workers, childcare providers, or whoever else has helped to keep the city going and make our lives a little more comfortable? Something simple like, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job, thanks for what you do!’ is just the job. One of your home-baked buns (see Step 2) wouldn’t go a miss either!
8. Strengthen the Community On Mission
As a member of Foundation Church Belfast what can you do to strengthen your church community? Many of the above steps can be used inside as well as outside the church of course. Furthermore we can actually move closer and deeper as a community on mission because of this lockdown period not just in spite of it. It’s so encouraging to receive a message telling me that someone is praying for me. You could get in touch with someone in church, ask them what you can pray for right now, and then pray there and then. Perhaps you have a Bible verse or a song you want to share. Consider meeting up for a walk and talk. Grab a take out coffee, get some fresh air, and figure out how you can ‘stir up one another to love and good works’ (Hebrews 10:24).
9. Prepare For Service
Get yourself in the best possible shape so you are ready for launching out again on mission as a church in the next few months. We don’t know when exactly we can begin to gather again, but it feels like it’s within touching distance! When restrictions are eased and we can meet physically, are you going to be ready to fire on all cylinders? Certainly it will take all of us time to get match fit as we enter the field of play once again. But how can you get into the best shape – physically, spiritually, mentally – as we set about ministry in Jesus’ name? Perhaps there’s an area you need specialised help in. Take the first step and ask for help – whether it begins with seeing a doctor, sharing with a friend, or speaking to a pastor. If you want to sharpen your spiritual health consider a time of fasting and prayer. Invest in reading or listening to sermons or podcasts that will encourage and inspire you.
10. Invite People To Church
Ok so we’re not meeting yet – but soon! It’s not too early to invite friends, family, or colleagues to church. Even if you get a provisional ‘yes’ you can revisit when we have specific dates down in the diary. Sunday worship gatherings are great to invite people along to. But there’s also community building events; we’ll have a year’s worth of barbeques to squeeze in somewhere (all socially distanced of course).
Mix It All Together
Being a community on mission is not rocket science! These suggestions are super-straight forward and non-confrontational options for you to try out. As a community on mission, we are always considering how to reach out with the good news of Jesus. Any of these options could open up a life-transforming moment for someone.
Combo moves are even better. Imagine having a conversation with a work colleague because of an interesting social media post you put up (step 5). During the conversation you then ask, ‘how are you coping these days?’ Then you listen as they share what’s going on (step 3). Perhaps then you offer to pray for (or with) them if the context is right (step 4). See – a combo move! You get the idea.
Even if these steps feel small or insignificant, don’t underestimate the huge difference you can make. The end goal in all this is to share the love of Jesus. And that can be with words and with deeds. But it’s often a series of steps in the direction of Jesus. Start the journey. Step in his direction. Ask the Holy Spirit for opportunities and the boldness to act on them.
We are a community on mission.