But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 NIV
March 13, 2020 marked the day that South had to do church differently, because of the COVID 19 virus. We as a community could no longer meet in person in large groups and only with much care in small groups for many months. We in the Western world forget that many other parts of the world worship and fellowship in different ways than we do. God’s presence has never been limited by a building. If we believe in his Son Jesus and have received the Holy Spirit, then God lives in us and we can worship, fellowship, and serve wherever we happen to be.
March 15, 2020 South started showing our services on our website, on Facebook, and now we live stream them. Many people from all over the country and in other countries are able to attend, some join in the live chat and some connected with others in the Zoom Room after the service when we offered it. Our community via Zoom looked different but was effective in connecting people, sharing prayer requests, and providing opportunities to worship with others.
Many of our small groups met via Zoom as well. Our choir could not sing together as a group in person, but we made phone calls and emailed each other. We used technology to share prayer requests and supported each other. The ladies’ Bible study met only via Zoom for 6 months. Many of us got to know ladies we had not known before, and we were able to support each other in prayer, encouraging each other weekly. Several people who were homebound were able to attend our Bible studies because we were meeting via Zoom. It looked different, but some people were able to be a part of our South community in a new way because we found a way to connect online.
Sometimes we have to let go of our ideas of worshiping in community. “And let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” Hebrews 10:24-25. Challenge yourself to be in community. It may require time and a phone call, or an hour to write a letter to a friend, or a computer and a Zoom meeting to join other believers in prayer. Being in a Jesus-led faith community looks different in 2021, but it is no less meaningful.
By Grace Hunter