Volume 1 – Issue 5

“Christ the Lord calls and equips us to become those who not only hear but do the Word of God..” Darrell Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church

Beyond lockdown

Although it’s hard to imagine it just now, there are indications that lockdown will begin to lift in a few weeks’ time. Why mention it now? Businesses, schools, local authorities and other agencies are beginning to plan for what that might look like.

It’s important that we begin to stir our imagination and creativity ahead of time so that we can communicate our intentions to our congregations and to those we hope to reach.


The spiritual and practical significance of Lockdown

Part of the West Midlands is called “the Black Country”. It gets its name from the fact that there used to be coal just under the grass. It was one of the first areas in the UK to use coal to power iron and steel making and it is usually thought of as the place where the industrial revolution began.

That same area has a lively network (the Net) of churches from across all (or most) denominations. They have set some ambitious mission goals for their region. One of the leaders of the net interviewed Martin Robinson this week with a number of questions about what God might be doing in the midst of the coronavirus emergency. You can view the interview on the Video Page

Mission Opportunities after lockdown

Last week I commented on the idea that we are not likely to go back to the “old normal”. It’s much more possible that there will be a “new normal”. So how can we take advantage of the new opportunities that this unprecedented situation has produced. Here are three actions we can consider in the new normal.

First, if you are live streaming your worship services, don’t stop after lockdown ends. There is a good deal of evidence that you can build a receptive audience by continuing to live stream worship. You might want to make some adjustments once you are gathering together again. This is the time to begin thinking about what that might look like.

Second, find out which of your church members are in WhatsApp groups in their neighbourhoods. Begin a discussion with them about how to continue and build the relationships that have been established through those connections.

Third, thank the heroes in your neighbourhood who might have been overlooked. One local C of E minister, William Taylor, a vicar in north London, decided to thank workers in his parish who had been overlooked. You will see William below as he went out to walk around his parish and give thanks.

He commented, “I went out today – Mayday, workers’ day – on a walk around the parish to thank all the key and essential workers for all they are doing to keep the show on the road. The drivers at Stamford Hill bus depot were particularly grateful to be acknowledged. They said over 30 transport workers had died from Covid but no one was thanking them. Also, builders merchants, pharmacists, garage attendants and a rather surprised postman in his van. Here’s a photo a neighbour took of me with my big stick to ensure no one came closer to me that 2 metres.”

A person standing in a parking lot

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Life at ForMission College in the lockdown.

We are often asked, “how is the college doing in the lockdown?” The simple answer is that the transition to on-line classes has been relatively straightforward. ForMission College operates a system called “blended learning”. In normal times, that means that students download all their notes from the college website and then meet in relatively small classes in campuses locations in London, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, an intensive campus near Hereford, the Czech Republic and Amsterdam.

All students are required to own a computer and be reasonably computer literate before enrolling with ForMission. So, moving to classes held in an interactive Zoom class on-line was probably easier for us than for many major universities. Some students even prefer this mode of operation because it means there is no travel time and cost! It’s possible that we might adopt some of the new ways of interacting even once the lockdown has ended.

Create Conference

As you will be aware, the Create leaders conference that was due to be held 4/5 May 2020 had to be cancelled because of the lockdown. We have re-booked the event for 4/5 May 2021 next year. Although the dates are the same, because the bank holiday is on a different day in 2021 than this year, the actual days will be Tuesday/ Wednesday rather than Monday/ Tuesday. So, although it might seem a long way off, it would be good to get the dates in the diary now. It will be good to meet again even if it will be next year!

Until next week: Martin Robinson

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