Doing church differently  

Doing church differently

Left: Jude Benton broadcasting on Mallacoota radio on Palm Sunday  
Middle: Kurt Langmead at Opal FM in Lightning Ridge
Right: Luke & Julia Collings on their weekly live Facebook devotion

Since COVID-19, churches across the world are reaching out to their communities in new and innovative ways. Our Field Staff have had unprecedented opportunities to reach out via television (Norfolk Island), radio (Lightning Ridge, Croajingolong and King Island) and online platforms. Here Kurt Langmead, Luke Collings and Jude Benton take you on their journey during lockdown.

How do you stay connected during COVID-19 in a place like Lightning Ridge? Simply doing church via ‘livestream’ doesn't work so well when half your congregation members live off the grid!

On the very first Sunday after public church services were suspended, God gave us an unexpected open door at the local community radio station, 89.7 Opal FM. Without missing a beat, we found ourselves with a weekly 30-minute slot on Sunday mornings. Consisting of some hymns, a Bible reading, short minister’s message, kids’ spot and prayers, our new weekly radio service proved a hit with those who listened in over the air waves or tuned in via Zoom.

A hands-down highlight was our Easter Sunday Family Service, with special guest Colin Buchanan giving shout outs to all the kids from Lightning Ridge and Goodooga Central Schools – thanks Colin!

Thanks be to God that in a season of highs and lows we’ve been able to do more than simply stay connected but stick at our mission of Building Christ’s Church – in the Ridge, on the Rock!

The restrictions on ministries and meetings during the COVID lockdown have been a challenge for us here in Moranbah. With so many people being on shift work and having strong connections to places outside the town, community here is fractured at the best of times.

Luke recorded and edited a 10-minute talk that could be shared easily via Facebook. Also, in place of Bible study, Luke and Julia did a weekly live video devotion. This proved very popular not only with our regular members but also other people in the community and opened up some new opportunities for people to hear an informal and fun discussion of the Bible. We are trusting that God will open doors for us to share Jesus with our neighbours even in these circumstances.

In Croajingolong the main church gathering since Palm Sunday has been ‘radio church’ on Mallacoota’s community FM radio station. Aside from a disclaimer at the start and end of the program there has been a real freedom to share from the scriptures, play worship music and pray for 30–40 minutes each Sunday morning.

Feedback from both the regular congregation and wider community has been overwhelmingly positive. We know that we have a good number of listeners who are not church attendees, some who because of age or health cannot get to church, and others who do not want people to know they are interested in exploring faith. Many of the people who’ve privately told me they are listening are men in their 60s & 70s – a group often missing in our churches. There is a real missional challenge for the future as these same people are adamant that they will listen to the radio but not come to the building.

Although the COVID-19 situation is difficult, I believe it has given us great opportunities to minister in a new and more effective way.   

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