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Small churches and lockdown  

The Small Church Connexion held its first zoom webinar earlier this month (Saturday, 12 September) with 47 attendees from across the country 

ConnectionsThe morning was divided into four sections on the theme of ‘Connections in Lockdown’, then two sections on ‘Looking Ahead’, with speakers for each section. This was followed by lively discussion in break out groups.

During lockdown, how have we connected?

With God - Sue Wetherall, Emmanuel Church, Ham. Lockdown has meant more time (for many) to spend with God in prayer and study, to reflect & listen to what He is saying about the future. Sue reflected on how God has spoken to this small church and how He is starting to bring new life into being. More here. 

With the church family using technology – Stephen Maclean, Cricklewood Baptist Church. Many small churches started exploring the whole new world of video conferencing, using Skype, Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. Some got hold of it quickly and used it for Sunday services, Bible study, prayer meetings and even quiz nights! Stephen spoke of how this has worked in his church in Cricklewood, North London. More here. 

With the church family without technology – Gerry Stanton, Union Church. With a more elderly congregation, Gerry could not connect using technology, but kept the church connecting in other ways. More here.

With the community - Nick Graves, Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church Nick told us how his weekly ‘Thursday Tea’ expanded to feeding the wider community working alongside the local Council. More here.

Looking ahead

1. Going back into the building - Kim Bames, Waltham Abbey Baptist Church. Some churches have completed the risk assessment and now worship again in their buildings. When Waltham Abbey were considering this, Kim Bames, having done the planning and buying of PPE, made a short video so people could see what it would be like in the church building following the Government and Baptist Union guidelines. More here. 

2. Our Call to Mission - Sandra Kimber, Hampton Wick Baptist Church How might you do church differently in the future? What has God been saying to us through Scripture about our call to mission? Are we in the right place? Here is what Sandra shared with us

We discussed two questions in seven break out groups for 25 mins

1 How has lockdown and the present crisis helped or hindered your faith in Jesus?

a)What have you learnt through the lockdown experience and how will you act on it and avoid the temptation to just return to the old routine?
b) What is the new thing God is calling you/your church to do? What are the difficulties we may face when trying to implement change and how can they be overcome?

Summary of the answers from the discussion

Generally, people agreed that lockdown had been a time to get close to God and slowing down from the constantly busy diary. There has been time to reflect on our priorities. As there is a return to church, many people sadly want to go back to the same routine and not embrace the changes. Church leaders must hold onto what God has said about new things and communicate this well to the congregations. Exploring the questions ‘what is church?’ and ‘what is a disciple?’ are a good place to start!

2) In light of the many changes in society, how can the church be more effective at reaching the 90 per cent of the population who didn't connect before lockdown?

a) How will we make the most of the opportunities God has given us with our neighbours and the new people who have joined us online?
b) How can we, in the midst of social, economic, political and moral chaos, once again become the revolutionary, transformational, life giving church Jesus called us to be?

Summary of the answers from the discussion
There has been a growing awareness of the need for prayer and mission in these times. Churches have reached out in various ways over lockdown and need God’s wisdom to take them further.

The online way of being church can be continued but it's not the same as seeing and meeting people in the flesh. Much discussion but not many answers!

Image | Dylan Ferreira | Unsplash

For more on Small Churches, visit the dedicated area of our website 

Baptist Times, 22/09/2020
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