8 things we’ve been learning as MTs in lockdown
Francie Jones and Lizzie Powell
- Church is people. It’s been encouraging to be reminded that church really is made up of people not buildings. And a big part of gospel ministry is personal relationships. It’s great to be reminded of that and I’m thankful we’ve been able to continue communicating and praying and reading the Bible together. But at the same time it is sad not to be physically gathering. I really miss seeing people at church and catching up with them in person and having conversations with individuals post-church.
- A lot of training and ministry can continue via technology. Without mid-week groups to set up for, creche to run and service sheets to print, I wasn’t sure I’d have much to do. As it turns out I’ve had lots to be getting on with, just in a different format to what I’m used to. There are Bible studies to write and send out on Mondays, a kids vlog on Wednesdays and youth Zoom meetings on Fridays. And we’ve continued attending our regional ministry training day and church meetings via video conferencing. It’s been great to see how many people are engaging in online platforms, and to keep opening the Bible with them. I am so thankful to God for the technology we have which allows this to continue!
- But video conferencing has its downsides. It is great as a way of staying connected, but it is tiring to spend so much time at a desk looking at a screen. Normally, if I was feeling a bit brain dead I’d go and mop the kitchen floor or some similar mindless practical task that needed doing, whereas now everything is on my laptop. It’s also more difficult to keep up with how individual youth group members are doing and feeling via big group video calls, without seeing them in person.
- And not everyone is online. One new area I have been able to get involved with outside my main area of focus has been putting together a weekly printed newsletter for people who don’t have internet access. It has been really encouraging to gain this experience and to be part of supporting our wider church family in this unusual time.
- We can pray. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Philippians and been challenged by the way Paul continues to pray for the Philippians despite being far from them. I’ve realised how little time I set aside to pray for Church family and particularly the youth. I hope this time will increasingly grow in me a deeper dependence on God in prayer.
- We need to work harder preparing Bible studies. It’s been interesting to think through questions which get across the passage’s main idea without just saying the answer, when there won’t be a leader there to rephrase the question or guide discussion. I have found this challenging at times but have really appreciated it as an opportunity to train and learn more!
- Motivation is clarified. Without the usual structure of my day and others in the office with me, lockdown has brought to light the wrong motives I sometimes have for working. When working at home no one can really see what you are doing, so if you’re motivated by what others will see, your motivation will run dry. If my motivation is to love and support my church family and glorify God through them growing in Christ-likeness, then I will be much more keen to get out of bed and keep working, even when others will not see it or when I won’t see the direct impact of it. I’m thankful for that refocus and for the privilege of being involved in this work.
- Our calling to grow in Christ is not context-dependent and there are now new opportunities for that growth. God’s call, for me, and everyone, to grow to be more like Jesus, stays the same. With that in mind, I am thankful for the unique opportunity (strange though it is) that lockdown gives to learn, train, adapt, spend more time in God’s Word and grow.
Francie Jones and Lizzie Powell are ministry trainees at Christ Church Cambridge.