Digital Church - Vision and Priorities
Leeds Vineyard in the digital age
In January I introduced our vision for 2020: “Extending God’s Kingdom together, everywhere and in every place”. Here is our opportunity to learn how to do that in new, innovative, Holy Spirit-inspired ways.
We have asked and sought to answer the question: how should Leeds Vineyard express its priorities over the next few months, if we are not able to meet together in the usual ways? Here are some of our initial thoughts.
Bible: regular teaching and a weekly scripture upon which we can all meditate and which we can perhaps memorise. WhatsApp groups to encourage daily bible reading and reading the bible in a year.
Worship: learning how to maintain a heart posture of worship and express that day by day. Finding new ways of expressing worship as a community on-line – with Spotify/Youtube playlists, live-streaming worship by our regular worship leaders.
Prayer: learning to use the spiritual practices we’ve been teaching about: examen, lectio divina, prayers of the presence etc. Providing set prayer for us all to share together. Setting up prayer groups online and maybe keeping the Prayer Room open for individuals or very small groups to pray.
Ministry of the Holy Spirit: praying for people on the telephone, times of prayer ministry in online group meetings, sharing words of knowledge and prophecies.
Fellowship: weekly worship online, sharing stories, lots of telephone calls, posting cards (with stamps), learning to use technology to connect with people, being neighbourly to those nearby.
Equipping & Training: we’ll focus on training those who need to learn how to use the technology; provide videos, encouragements and resources for families to disciple their children; one on one coaching.
Sending: Ideas and resources and encouragement to become good neighbours on our street or in our block. For example, Alison and I met with a small group of neighbours yesterday to coordinate how we were going to check on all our neighbours and see if they needed help with walking their dog or picking up shopping or just a friendly checking in phone call.
PRACTICAL – HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS?
We are faced with an uncertain future and all sorts of questions about what we can and can’t do as a traditional church community. It is perhaps a bit cliched to ask “What would Jesus do?” but actually it is the right question. How would Jesus respond in times like ours? We know that He would reach out to the lonely and sick and that He would seek to protect the vulnerable.
We haven’t got the full picture yet but it starts with weekly worship online this Sunday.
Thereafter we are going to put in place a whole series of new events and structures through which we will re-imagine and re-experience our life together as Leeds Vineyard, a church. Please be patient as we try new things and work out how to do this really well. Some things won’t work and we’ll make mistakes as we go. But we are excited by what could be, by what Holy Spirit will do through us in new and surprising ways.
The children will become increasingly familiar with remote working as schools close, it will probably be the parents who have some learning to do! We plan to provide resources, linked to weekly worship online, which parents will be able to use to develop time with their children every Sunday.
There will be many other activities and resources which we’ll try. Eventually we’ll settle to a routine which will work well for as many people as possible. I believe we will grow, both spiritually as we learn to follow Jesus in unusual ways and in numbers as neighbours and friends are able to engage in the family life of Leeds Vineyard without having to come to Headingley on a Sunday.
Our pastoral care will have to adapt, partly to learn how to care for people in a digital world and partly to ensure that we don’t let people slip through the gaps, particularly if they are not internet-enabled.
Let us pray that we, the people of God, thrive in revealing the goodness of God and in growing the Kingdom at a time of anxiety and crisis and uncertainty in our country. Pray that we may be a non-anxious-presence in our neighbourhoods and workplaces (virtually or in reality).
Our scriptural reflection for today was from Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why don’t you stop for 2 minutes and reflect on these verses and ask Holy Spirit to show you how you can be an agent of His peace in your neighbourhood.
More to follow in due course,
16 March 2020