Staying Aware of Spiritual Risks

I’d like to take a moment to make you aware of some of the spiritual risks we face during this time of isolation. I think it goes without saying that our normal routines have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this goes for our spiritual rhythms as well. Our spiritual enemy, Satan, is constantly scheming and working to discourage our faith (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11–13), so I want to encourage you to create healthy habits that will enable you to stay spiritually strong during the pandemic.

I want to particularly encourage you not to give up on the habit of meeting together (Hebrews 10:24–25), even though it is online. The risk in this time is to let our ‘meeting habits’ slide, whether it’s the Sunday service, Growth Group or other ministries we receive spiritual nourishment from. If we allow these habits to deteriorate, we allow ourselves to become spiritually vulnerable.

Now, even though it is theoretically ‘easier’ to meet together because we can meet online in our own homes, it is also deceptively easy to neglect online meetings. There are numerous reasons for this. We don’t feel that anyone will miss us in an online service, we can’t drop our kids off to a ministry that will supervise them, and we have a multitude of other household distractions that didn’t exist when we used to gather together physically! On top of all this, I am wary of the fact that the novelty of doing church ‘online’ will slowly wear off. As blessed as we are to be able to do church online, it does not substitute for the real thing. I am eager for the day when I will be able to see you face-to-face again!

In light of this, we should be aware and sober-minded in this unfamiliar terrain. The Apostle Peter said: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

We want to be wise in how we respond to the new challenge at hand. So, can I encourage you first of all to choose a service to stream (9AM or 6PM) and make a habit of joining that stream every single Sunday at that time. If you can avoid it, try not to watch the stream at a different time during the day, or later on in the week. The reason I say this is because consistency will help you to create and keep good habits that will sustain you through this isolated time. And there’s also numerous practical reasons why this is a good idea. For example, we are running Zoom Hangouts after each service to enable you to connect with your church family. We are also planning on doing the Lord’s Supper online soon (more details to come), and the Lord’s Supper is a symbol of our unity, not disunity. So, start to create good habits if you haven’t already.

Here are some great tips from Dave McDonald on how to engage well during Church Online:

  1. Tune in properly. Get prepared for church and turn up. Get out of your PJs (especially if you go to afternoon church). Arrange a place to focus on whatever is happening with church. Plan ahead. Will you put it on the TV or large computer screen and sit as a family or couple? Will you wear headphones with a microphone to increase the audio precision? Give your time wholly to church for the 40 minutes, an hour, or however long you will be meeting. Don’t multitask. Get off Facebook, unless that’s where you find your church live feed. Leave the dishes until afterwards. Don’t be surfing the net or checking emails. Most importantly, take a minute before hand to pray that you’ll be able to encourage others and be encouraged yourself.
  2. Participate properly. Have a Bible with you. Look up the Bible reading and references during the talk. Have a notebook and pen and take some notes during the sermon. Download the talk outline if there is one. If there are kids activities, videos, participation exercises, then supervise your children to get involved. Encourage the same habits you’d like to see when we get out of lockdown. If there’s a time for singing, then join in.

Let’s be wise in this time of isolation by creating good habits of meeting and good habits of engagement. The same principles apply to your Growth Group meetings or other online ministries that you are a part of. I would love to see you after the services this Sunday for our Zoom Hangouts as well. If you’d like to join me just use one of the links below:

Zoom Hangout – After 9AM Service: https://zoom.us/j/353789906?pwd=eTN5eStJZ0R2eE1DbzJPcW5YazZlUT09

Zoom Hangout – After 6PM Service: https://zoom.us/j/369138052?pwd=akZCWkRVa0Mwd2NiNnBOcVRvN3h2Zz09

Praying for you all,

Ben

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