During the second month of the first lockdown, we began to understand that church life would not and should not return to what it used to be after the pandemic. COVID-19 has given us a period to slow down, listen to the voice of God and to break away from ideas and ministries which may have served us well in the past but are no longer in sync with the vision and mission of EBC.
Two important aspects became clear in our minds:
1) This Is A Kairos Moment For EBC
The word 'Kairos' is a Greek New Testament word meaning ‘the right, appointed time’. For us, this is the right time to make the required changes to ensure that we are relevant as a church to those around us.
2) This Is A Pentecost Moment For Our Church
At Pentecost, God moved in a fresh, new way. The Church was born and grew phenomenally, and the believers came to experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that God wants to move in a fresh, new way, similar to that of Pentecost, which will bring:
An outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Power given to believers for service
The occurrence of the supernatural
People being saved and added to the church
And so for the next few years, the primary focus of our church will be Discipleship and Outreach.
In order to achieve this, we have identified four areas that need to be developed:
1) A Greater Openness To The Work And Presence Of The Holy Spirit
Through our Sunday gatherings, teaching and conversations with one another, we should seek to create a sense of expectation, anticipation and openness to the work and presence of the Holy Spirit.
This may include waiting on the Holy Spirit for a Word, a Scripture, a prompt of some kind, testimonies, and pictures. Sharing these things with the wider church body must first be approved by one of the Elders.
2) A Greater Focus On Prayer
We can do this by continuing to develop the practice of regular prayer in our church:
Encouraging our church family to pray for specific needs
Making greater provision and opportunity for people to pray
Creating a Community Prayer Team
Until we can meet in person, we will continue to use Zoom, but even when social distancing restrictions are lifted, Zoom will remain as one of our platforms to host prayer gatherings.
For the moment, we have agreed on the following times for prayer:
Tuesdays at 7.30pm - 8.00pm // Intercessory Prayer
Wednesdays at 10.00am - 10.45am // Church and Community needs
Thursdays at 7.30pm - 8.00pm // Intercessory Prayer
Also, we are looking for volunteers who would like to be part of our Community Prayer Team. The function of this team is offer pray and conversation to all in our town who would like, either by walking through the community or at the prayer station which will be set up outside our church.
3) A Greater Focus On Discipleship
In Acts 2, we read that the believers dedicated themselves to the teaching of the apostles.
For our church to grow, we need to have a firm faith foundation and this is achieved through an effective discipleship programme. As such we are seeking to develop two main areas:
Firstly, we will do all that we can to support you in your personal study and relationship with God through the culture of EBC and by recommending devotional resources to you.
Our sermons will ensure that an overall view of the Bible and its many themes are taught so that. you can have a fuller understanding of God's Word
We will continue our Book of the Month series
We will recommend good websites and social media profiles to follow that will help you grow spiritually
We will run corporate devotionals twice a year (just like we have done with the book of Daniel)
We are looking into an apologetics course (giving the reason for our beliefs) where we can address topics such as: How can a loving God allow suffering? How can Christians believe in miracles? Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament? What has Christianity ever done for the world?
Secondly, we desire for everyone to be involved in a Life Group as they are a foundational part of spiritual growth.
With this in mind, Life Groups will be relaunched in September 2021 with a new vision and emphasis. Between now and then, we will be putting structures in place to promote, develop and create new Life Groups.
4) A Greater Emphasis On Outreach
Acts 2:47 // "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved".
As part of our desire to see people coming to faith in Jesus, we will be taking some steps.
Firstly, we are going to refocus our existing ministries. Whilst all groups have a dimension of fellowship, this should not be the primary reason for their existence. For the next few years, the primary focus of our ministries will either be outreach, discipleship or both - this will not affect support ministries such as the office, catering or the maintenance teams which are needed for the normal running of our church.
Secondly, we want to equip and support people who are passionate about starting new areas of ministry that fit with the vision of the church. The next few years will present different needs to those of pre-COVID-19 days. Issues such as unemployment, financial issues, mental illnesses and loneliness will become much more apparent, and we want to cater for that.
Here are some of the new ministries we have in mind:
Courses in response to specific needs (e.g. addictions)
Job application coaching
School and college ministry
The continued development of our Food Bank
We do this all of this with an attitude of celebration, thanking God for all that has been achieved in the past whilst looking ahead with excitement for the future.