The Evangelical Alliance is here to serve the church in this moment. We are living in an unprecedented time and the situation is constantly changing. We know from church history that such moments have seen the church serve society in exceptional ways – the early church grew exponentially as people saw it respond to two major epidemics.

Here are five ways we are seeking serve the church:

Prayer

n this season of different routines and patterns, we are learning to pray more and listen to God – perhaps saying the Lord’s Prayer as we wash our hands. This is a great opportunity to make sure God is the primary voice we are all listening to, rather than social media. 

Practical advice

Sponsored

The church has left the building, whether it wants to or not. The gathered church is extremely important, but the church is also a scattered community. This is an amazing opportunity for us to re-imagine what church can look like. Mark Crosby, director of comms at Vineyard Churches UK& Ireland, has shared with us his top tips on how to serve your church community digitally during the coronavirus outbreak. But as James reminds us, our worship also needs to care for the vulnerable in our society. Ann Clifford (wife of the Evangelical Alliance’s former general director, Steve) had the great idea of delivering a note to everyone in her street to set up a WhatsApp group so people could help one another through this crisis. 

It is critical we find creative ways to help those in isolation, but also those who will be serving on the frontline.

Public leaders

The priesthood of all believers will be more apparent in this crisis. We are gathering stories from those who have been through our Public Leadership programme and looking for ways to support them. It is critical we find creative ways to help those in isolation, but also those who will be serving on the frontline. We also recognise that many businesses and workplaces are faced with extremely difficult choices around shutting down to protect their customers, but trying to find ways to look after their staff with no money coming in. We are writing and gathering prayers for those on the frontline and looking for ways to share their experiences and stories.

Pastoral care

Continuing our ministry and mission in a time of social distancing and potential lockdown will be challenging. We are engaging with government to understand how they will view churches and their volunteers in this crisis. Foodbanks, homeless projects and addiction services are vital for many people. Serious gaps are going to emerge in vulnerable community groups and we as God’s people are seeking to be present as a Christian witness. We are asking for greater support for these services which are essential to many. They will need financial support and new regulations or guidance about how they can function at this time. The draft bill produced by the Government makes no mention of churches or charities.

We are good news people and we want to be infectious about our faith.

Presence

We are in a season of different routines and patterns. Schools are about to shut and we are all likely to live under some sort of lockdown. For many families, they will be more present than usual with parents and children at home all week. We will be signposting some education resources we have been working on and those our members have developed. Whilst all being at home together will undoubtedly be a challenge, it is also a real opportunity to have more meals together, to chat more and perhaps set new habits around family devotionals.

We are good news people and we want to be infectious about our faith. Evangelism is going to look different during this season, but it is still going to happen. For many of us, our online presence will be critical. Amongst the palpable sense of fear, we must be a non-anxious presence. This is not about sticking our heads in the sand or blithely disregarding what is happening. We need to recognise that lives and jobs have already been lost, mental health problems will be exacerbated by the situation, and we’ve still got some way to go to get to the other side of this.

This will leave a generational scar, and we must allow space for lament. But we must also pick up the phone, Skype and Facetime, and drop food parcels to those in need. We will have to find inventive ways to bring joy and life, like the lady in Cardiff who has organised an online sing-a-long every day.

We would not have chosen this, but in the darkness the light shines brighter. And in the midst of this crisis, it is a privilege to serve the church across the UK and help it be the hands and feet of Jesus in this very difficult moment. Be blessed and be a non-anxious presence.