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Learning and Growing during Coronavirus

by Michael Ford last modified 24 Jul, 2020 04:48 PM

While lockdown closed our churches, their mission and ministry continued.

And for many of our ministry teams, the coronavirus provided a catalyst for finding new ways to share faith and tap into local skills and creativity.

One such team is the Benefice of Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt, who had been looking at how to provide resources that could help their 3 congregations to continue their journey of faith development.

The Rector, Canon Andrew Evans, had a clear vision - he wanted to help everyone share their faith in simple ways.

Lucy Waterman from the Benefice Team explains:

"The lockdown time propelled the Benefice into producing online services and, most recently, the Discipleship Series. It was also the catalyst for putting together a new website that reflects the unity of 3 villages and the diversity of their congregations. The rather long Benefice name seen above was crystallised into a website name that encompassed all the churches, and was easy to remember; namely Faith in our Village."

The Benefice website, Facebook page, Instagram feed and YouTube channel link all now carry this simple vision, and Lucy says it made a big difference:

"It was interesting to see that the day of the name change immediately resulted in more Facebook page likes, and YouTube subscribers, as people connected with the friendly and unified nature of the new name.

"Producing the online content led to a great deal of creativity being expressed. The wonderful opportunities afforded by outdoor filming were a great incentive to visit local landmarks. This is turn gave a strong focal image to the theme of each service. Feedback from those watching highlighted how much the creativity and outdoor settings had blessed them and helped them connect with the talk in an active way."

Andrew Evans adds:

“We felt called to a fundamental re-think of what we do, re-visiting Jesus' call to go and make disciples. We had to question how effective Sunday services are at discipling people. We are trying to move to a model where the whole congregations are involved in leading others to faith, and discipling both them and those around us in our churches. This means that Sundays are more about celebration together. This is very much a work in progress and we are feeling our way forward.

“We are delighted that after the first Discipleship session, 'The Call', 2 people became Christians and asked to join an Alpha course to answer their questions. This has led to us running our first online Alpha.”

The Discipleship Series continues alongside a gentle return to in-church services, and there is now a growing bank of easily accessible resources on the YouTube channel, with each week’s playlist featuring talks explaining the topic, personal testimonies from members of the 3 churches, worship songs recorded by the music group, and prayers relevant to the topic.

The playlist approach gives a degree of flexibility, so that different elements of each session could be used in home groups, in church services, as a follow up group for those who have completed Alpha and even as a reflective tool for prayer meetings. The possibilities for using these Discipleship sessions are growing all the time.

And the process has brought out previously hidden skills from members of the congregations, from video editing, or music recording, to presentational skills, all ages have pulled together to produce the resources.

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