A church is a group of born again baptized believers who have covenanted to live the Christian life together, and “not to neglect meeting together, … but to encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). This is why members of a church usually meet each other in different contexts, such as regular Sunday worship, mid-week Bible studies, for hospitality, and various discipleship contexts. And as we meet, we serve one another and care for each other (1 Thes. 5:11). This caring for one another is central to church life, and I would like to share a few ways in which our church has tried to care for one another during this lockdown.
Prayer: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). The Word of God encourages believers to pray without ceasing, not only for themselves but also for other saints. From the very first week of the lockdown, we have regularly encouraged people through Scripture that we can pray for each other even while we are in our own homes. We regularly sent prayer requests to church members through WhatsApp, making an intentional effort to include Scripture, so that we could all pray according to the Word of God. We have also encouraged our church to fast and pray for the members of the church. Our congregation took care of each other by praying biblically for each other during this pandemic.
Providing Spiritual Resources: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Along with prayer, the main task of church leaders is to teach the Word. But due to this lockdown, the regular teaching ministry of the church has stopped. But the church leaders did not leave members to fend for themselves as sheep without a shepherd. We did not telecast live sermons online because not everyone in our congregation has access to fast internet, computers, smart TV, etc. Instead, we regularly sent old recorded sermons to them so that they could listen to or watch them with their families according to their convenience. We have also sent small audio recordings, short articles and books to help the church grow spiritually. We desire that during this time of lockdown when they have more time on their hands, church members should fill their hearts and minds with the Word of God and not with worldly things.
Fellowship through Technology: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thes. 5:11). Something which we are encouraged strongly to do in our church is to deliberately discuss spiritual matters when we meet with one another. During this lockdown, the leaders and members of the church have regularly taken care of each other by talking to each other over the phone. People made video calls and WhatsApp calls to express their concern, love and grief over not being able to meet each other. Where it was possible, a few Bible studies and devotions were conducted over Zoom calls, and through WhatApp groups. We used various technological means to remind each other that we are still part of one body and church. We are not alone and isolated.
Hospitality: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9). Hospitality is an important part of church life, in which all members participate enthusiastically. In hospitality, people open their homes, families, and hearts to others for fellowship and sharing a meal. We have not been able to go to each other’s houses during this lockdown, but we still have been able to show hospitality to each other in smaller ways. People in the church who live close to one another have encouraged one another by cooking and baking, and taking food to one another’s homes while maintaining social distancing. without entering their homes. This love expressed during the lockdown deepens relationships in the church and encourages us to stand together for the gospel.
Financial Help: “The grace of God was on the church of Macedonia that, in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor. 8:1-2). Giving one’s money to Christian brothers and sisters who are in need is one of the clear signs that believers are living others-centred lives. Our church is new and doesn’t have many people. Most of the people of our church are not rich but have still given their money generously during this lockdown. Along with helping one another personally, believers have increased their regular giving to the church, which has helped the church to help people in need. God is teaching our church that money is a blessing that we can share with one another. And because of this, God has helped us to not only help people within our church during this lockdown but also to help people in other churches.
Our God is sovereign and this difficult situation is also under his control. God has helped our church to care for one another even in this situation. We are thankful that although we are not able to congregate as a local church, we have been able to practically live out our lives as parts of one body. May God help us to keep growing in our love and concern for each other. And when we are able to gather together again in God’s time, may he help us to continue to pray for each other, grow in the teaching of the Word, stay in touch with each during the week, do hospitality, and help our needy brothers and sisters financially.
Isaac Saurabh Singh serves as pastoral staff at Satya Vachan Church in Lucknow. He is married to Mahima and they have a son and a daughter.