The following letter has been sent to our regular attenders. If you are planning to visit us we wanted you to be aware of how we are approaching church life in the current crisis. All information as at 15 March 2020.
You’re probably wondering how we as River of Life church are planning to respond to the latest developments of the coronavirus pandemic. We are closely monitoring the situation and seeking to follow all government advice and yet at the same time, we want to offer some pastoral tips on how we walk through this crisis with Jesus and love our neighbours. Here are some simple guidelines for what we should do at this time, recognising the situation is rapidly changing:
● As Christians we are not immune from this virus and we need to take the same precautions as everyone else. If you have a new continuous cough or a high temperature please self-isolate for at least 7 days. This is the latest advice at the time of writing but obviously this may change.
● If you think you have got the virus, use the NHS 111 questionnaire online https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 and follow the advice given.
● Don’t get isolated even if you have to self-isolate! Please let your small group leader know if you need to self-isolate so you can be prayed for and practically helped out if you need shopping done etc. If you are not part of a small group please let one of the elders know. If you cannot attend a Sunday gathering, please try and listen to the talk on the church web page.
● If you are feeling well and are attending a church event, please wash your hands regularly, bring tissues with you and use them to cough or sneeze into and put in the bin.
● Stay focused on Jesus. This is clearly a time of great fear which will be heightened by the media. Be wise with your media diet and focus on God’s love, peace and faithfulness. We may end up with extra time on our hands through self-isolation, travel plans cancelled or work patterns changing. Use that time well. Worship at home, read that Christian book you’ve been meaning to get into, write letters of appreciation to people, place scripture verses around the house and learn them!
● We are taking extra precautions to limit the spread of the virus. We have hand soap and tissues. We ask that every time you enter and leave a church event you wash your hands. Rather than it being an inconvenience, let’s turn hand washing to prayer! 20 seconds is the perfect length for the Lord’s Prayer or intercede for someone who is scared or vulnerable right now.
● Welcome teams will greet you with a smile rather than a hug, kiss or handshake.
● Prayer ministry will happen without the laying on of hands
● Communion will be done with individual cups and pre-cut bread
● At the tea and coffee stations those serving will be wearing gloves and will add the milk and sugar to each drink to avoid multiple contact on milk jugs/bottles
● We are creating a plan to quickly and effectively become a house/cell church for a season if corporate meetings become too difficult to run with reduced numbers or are banned. House churches of discipling, missional communities is how Pioneer started and we can do it again. If you are not in a small group, please join one soon.
● We will make our talks available online and you can access them at www.riveroflifechurch.co.uk
Our role together
● This crisis will create opportunities to love, care for and offer prayer to those who are ill or anxious. People all around us will be asking deeper questions than usual because everything that previously seemed secure is being shaken. There will be an increased openness to the gospel, so be bold in sharing your faith.
In the year 251AD a plague decimated the great city of Carthage. In the book ‘Epidemics, Networks and the rise of Christianity’ it says “The minority Christian Community which did not flee but stayed to provide nursing had a higher survival rate than their pagan neighbours and the pagans who had been nursed through the crisis by Christians were likely to be open to a faith that, unlike their own, had worked.”
● ‘Love Your Neighbour’ in practical ways – perhaps put a note through the doors of their neighbours offering help, support and friendship.
In a time of anxiety and uncertainty it’s wonderful to know the Lord is with us. He’s on the throne and we carry his hope, power and peace to all around us.
“The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”: Psalm 46: 1-2