Has lockdown meant that your fellowship has deepened?
Church is the people of God in fellowship with God and with each other. One of the great golden threads which runs throughout Scripture is ‘I will be their God and they will be my people’ (Jer. 31.33). In normal times – remember BC (Before Covid)? – we could meet together and God spoke to us through the preaching and we responded in praise and prayer together as a church. But small groups are also very useful for both vertical and horizontal fellowship.
In lockdown, fellowship among God’s people has been stretched to the limit. But churches have, by and large, managed to hang in with each other, especially in small groups, via online means.
Small group fellowship
In fact I think it’s true that the experience of our own small group in our home church is that we have actually grown closer together and become more free and able to share with each other during lockdown. Maybe that has been your experience too?
Of course, this has only been possible through the capabilities of modern digital technology, for which we should than God. It is the Lord who built the possibilities for such astonishing gadgets into our world from creation.
For small groups, Zoom has been tremendous. To be able to see each other and talk together is marvelous. And after the group has finished on Zoom you are home so quickly! I think that might commend itself after a hard day’s work, even when ‘normality’ returns. (That whole issue might need thinking about for church leaders. Are you going to lose people midweek post lockdown?)
Also many small groups have set up WhatsApp groups in order to stay in touch during the rest of the week. This has enabled us to keep up to date with the medics in our group on the front line in battling the pandemic and pray for them. It also enabled us to be regularly in touch with one of our number who caught the virus and needed help with food and shopping.
Sharing the pain and difficulties of lockdown has facilitated a deeper sympathy and readiness to be there for each other.
The bread and butter of the fellowship group, of course, is Bible reading and prayer together. By the way it is good that you don’t let the group go on too long but have a definite end time – don’t let togetherness spill over into tedium! A good, crisp time of biblical truth and prayer is a midweek oasis.
But the group will also benefit from creativity and some thinking outside the box. Phone calls to the elderly shut-ins are brilliant. Long walks or runs together, one-to-one, under social distancing, are again opportunities for individual sharing which prove beneficial for fitter people. Passing on encouraging quotes from Scripture or Christian books has been a blessing to many as has sharing an encouraging Christian song digitally. But also treats from time to time have brightened many a day in our group – a little card with a bar of chocolate dropped through the letterbox or something. Let people know you love and care for them.
A big hit in our own group has been a gift of seeds or corms. Each person in the fellowship group received a little packet and we are now all growing the same plant. It has caused much amusement with sharing the photos of each others’ flower pots, showing how each one is getting on and what can be done to make them flourish. The particular plant chosen was Oxalis Triangularis, more popularly known as False Shamrock. Growing them has reminded us all of our need to grow as Christians and to grow as a fellowship. The trick however, is to not let your the group turn into Gardeners’ Question Time.