6 Ways to Keep Church Seven Days a Week
The church is called to gather, but also to encourage, to pray, to witness. Online technology can help us do that all through the week.
Lockdown and the Covid pandemic has helped us (it’s helped me at least!) reconsider and confirm our ecclesiology and how we see church playing out in life.
Is church simply listening to a message – whether in a hall or on Zoom? Do we need to be in the same physical space? What does God really want to see the church doing?
Whilst I’m convinced by in-person gatherings as far as it is possible, the season we’ve all had of social distancing has taught us – by necessity - that online technology can enable more church life and ministry than we thought.
As well as gathering on a Sunday for worship (Hebrews 10:25), we are called to spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24), to care and encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:14), to be devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42), and to share the gospel in our communities (Acts 1:8).
In our busy lives – work, family life, hobbies, other responsibilities – online technology can help us to do these things in ways that were so much harder before.
Here are six ideas that might help you keep being the church throughout the week using online technology.
There were a number of churches who began producing devotions during lockdown – on YouTube or Facebook as a video series, on a podcast feed, or indeed both – to encourage their people and help them focus on the gospel. See Cornerstone Church in Abergavenny's Advent devotional series produced in 2021 above.
With busy schedules, full-time work, and family life, it would be hard and unsustainable to try and gather for teaching and encouragement multiple times a week. So, a regular devotional feed is a good way to keep pointing one another to Christ between Sundays.
Of course, workloads are different now than during lockdown. Consider a rota of trusted contributors to take each devotional. Start with one per week and see where it goes. Maybe the series could take the church through a book, or the Psalms, or the theme from the Sunday sermon previous.
Zoom prayer meetings
Last year, Dan Green wrote that if Zoom was to stay in church life anywhere, it would be in the prayer meeting. Do read more in his article as I think it rings very true, as much as it divided opinion at the time!
Here are two examples where Zoom has worked for prayer in my church.
We organised early morning prayers on Zoom in the lead up to our Christmas and Easter events to pray for fruit from them. This has now developed into a weekly Monday morning prayer session on Zoom which is very precious.
Once a month, we hold a special prayer meeting for our desire to grow a church on a council estate in the city. This is held both in person and on Zoom but the online element enables those who can’t get out in the evenings (for childcare or other reasons) to join, as well as some other supporters joining from the US.
Both of these examples enable prayer together in a way that would be very hard to do so otherwise.
We’ve heard countless stories at FIEC of churches who have reached unbelievers through live streams and online sermons during the pandemic - many of who have since visited church in person.
So, we know that people can be reached online; it’s just a matter of finding them.
Of course, not all churches have the skills or resources to produce video content themselves, but evangelistic videos can be great ammunition to reach people with the gospel, start spiritual conversations, and begin relationships to draw others into the gospel and the church.
For example, the “online tracts” produced at Knighton Free Church (see above for an example), some of the short poems and videos produced by Glen Scrivener and the team at Speak Life, or the various videos available from our friends at Go Chatter.
Equip your church with these videos and encourage them to share them online, as they might do a tract, to get those conversations started.
Facebook groups and WhatsApp chats
If you want to speak to someone, you go to where they are. Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats, and the like were already popular places for people to communicate with each other, but lockdown has accelerated their use and popularity.
There is a case to argue that we are on our phones and devices too much, but the fact is that they are here to stay. Is there a Facebook group set up for church members? If not, could you start one to encourage relationships to grow there? Have WhatsApp chats been created organically within your small groups or other ministries in the church?
How could you use those spaces to engage with your church?
It might be to share an encouraging verse and thought once a week, to provide a helping web article you’ve found to be shared there each week, or to share an uplifting song or hymn.
Many churches are continuing to live stream their services after the enforced lockdown to help those who can’t attend for other reasons (illness, childcare, holidays) to still engage, and to reach any onlookers (see my article on ‘digital lurkers’).
Could you clip a five-minute section of the sermon into a shorter video for people to reflect on (like the one above from Hope Church in Halifax)? In my home group, we often spend time going deeper into the sermon during the week when we meet – could you do this across the whole church using online technology?
The sermon clips could also serve as evangelistic videos, devotional videos, or something to share on a WhatsApp chat throughout the week too, covering one of the earlier suggestions.
Daily prayer list
We joined our current church only three weeks before the 2020 lockdown which made it challenging to get to know people in our new church family and feel connected to them. So, the prayer diary that the elders have started this year is very welcome.
Being able to pray for people in the church by name, sometimes with specific prayer requests, and to then send a quick message to let them know they have been prayed for, has been good for my soul. It has helped me feel connected on a spiritual level, it has encouraged others in the church, and it brings down blessings from our Father in heaven in ways we may never know.
This isn’t anything new in particular, but the way people engage with such a prayer list could be made easier with online technology.
It could be a PDF that people can save to their phone or tablet to bring up when appropriate, it could be through a daily feed on the PrayerMate app (this is how I use our diary), or it could be a scheduled weekly email with seven days of things to pray for.
I’d love to hear how else you are using online technology to keep church going through the week. Let me know!