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LIVING OUR VALUES IN LOCKDOWN

Posted on 26 April, 2020

LIVING OUR VALUES IN LOCKDOWN

INTRODUCTION

The church is called to be God’s city of refuge, a loving and compassionate family of God that strengthens its members and helps them bring life and hope to the suffering world. How can we be a supportive intergenerational community when we are supposed to be self-isolated during the COVID-19 crisis? This crisis is time when we need God and each other even more. Instead of becoming more alienated from each other, this is an opportunity to strengthen our relationships with God and with each other. This booklet gives you some practical tips of how to live Christ’s values in your family, in your church and in your local community during the lockdown. Be free to send us also your ideas and stories.

When the church invests in the capabilities of its members, it generates growth and strengthens their bond of identification with the church.

While implementing these ideas, take care to respect the official health protection (Coronavirus) regulations in your country.

For more resources and information about Church of Refuge visit www.icor.church

© Trans-European Division (TED) and Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

CONTRIBUTORS: (Long version) Editor: Zlatko Musija Contributors: Emanuel Bran, Madelon Comvalius – Duijster, Harald Giesebrecht, Matthew Herel, Karen Holford, Patrick Johnson, Karolina Poland, Thomas Rasmussen, Delmar Reis, Clair Sanches-Schutte, Paul Tompkins

Design & layout: Isaac Chía (based on the iCOR material designed by Simon Eitzenberger (desim.de))

Pictures: © shutterstock.com


 

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Connecting

Connecting churches strive to form authentic and loving relationships across generational, cultural and social boundaries.

 

  • Unexpectedly, couples now have to spend a lot of time together to have meaningful conversations with each other and to connect. Use ready-made conversation questions to get the conversations started. https://www.thedatingdivas.com/conversation-starters-for-marriage/
  • Write a lovely card to the children and young people from your local congregation. You could even make handmade cards to send. Usually the children and young people write or create something for the sick and elderly folks in church. In this time, children’s lives have changed drastically so use this as an opportunity to return a pleasant favour.
  • Make sure that everyone has access to a GDPR compliant list of members and families in your church and organize your community into caring groups that can focus on connecting with each other once a week. Encourage every younger family group or young person to connect with an older person or couple, especially those who are isolated. It’s especially important to listen to their stories and feelings, and to find ways you can help them with their needs. There is a seminar on listening carefully at https://ted.adventist.org/family-ministries/live-kind - then scroll past the live:kind ideas to Listening Kindly.
  • Because there are no Sabbath School classes and church services, we miss each other’s company. Create a WhatsApp group with church members to send each other encouraging songs, quotes or Bible texts. Livestream a couple of discussion leaders and let participants post questions or comments via WhatsApp, Zoom, or YouTube. For members who are physically unable to go to church, this is a wonderful way to attend online Sabbath School and services. Create a Facebook page for your local church. Ask members to take a Sabbath selfie and design a collage with all the pictures.
  • Create small bouquets with beautiful spring flowers from your garden, add an encouraging card and leave it on the doorstep of your neighbour or friend. Ring the bell, you will get a big smile, and you can connect from a distance.
  • How are the people doing you haven't seen in church for a long time? Or how are those who have resigned in recent years? This is a good time to re-establish contact. Send them a postcard, an app or, even better, give them a call.
  • For parents, this time is a special opportunity to invest in your children's faith. There are several programmes online with ready-made Bible materials for use at home. Connect with each other and simultaneously connect with God.

 

Useful links:

https://toucantogether.com/ - a free app to strengthen couple relationships

https://ted.adventist.org/images/Family/Free_Family_Worship_Resources_links.pdf - 52 family worship ideas that you can do with your family.

http://ubdavid.org/kids-world/kids.html - A website with lots of Bible material parents can explore with their kids. 

https://ted.adventist.org/images/Kindness_at_church1.pdf - some of these ideas are not suitable for lockdown, but some are, and some could be adapted to be online.

 Madelon Comvalius – Duijster, Netherlands 

Living Our Values in Lockdown - Caring

Caring churches foster a loving attitude that reaches out to others with empathy and accepts them the way they are. They actively serve their good and support them in all areas of life.

 

  • Cut out some hearts about 4-5” or 10-12cm across. Write on each heart “Kindness was here!” and decorate them. Give each person in the family 4-5 hearts a day to leave behind in the places where they do something kind for someone else.
  • Make a list of different ways to show you care in the family. Choose activities that take 10 minutes or less. This will give you all lots of ideas for quick and meaningful ways to be kind. Clean someone’s shoes; make everyone a nice drink; lay the table for the next meal; set a tidy-timer and see how much tidying you can all do together in 5 or 10 minutes, etc.
  • Parents spend one-on-one time with each child every day, if possible, doing whatever your child wants to do. Tell them how special they are to you: “I’m so glad you’re my son/daughter!” “Being your mum/dad is one of the best things in my life!”
  • Show you care for your neighbours. Make a poster for your window to let people know you are praying for them during this pandemic. Or write a positive message on your driveway using pavement chalk.
  • Make a community pantry. Place a large, clear, lidded plastic box on the edge of your property. Place some tins and packets of food inside. Invite people who need food to help themselves, and those who have spare food to add it to the box.
  • Make a list of church members who are living alone, or who are single parents. Write out your prayer for them in a card, and pack it in a box with food, treats and things that will bring them joy during this time.

 

Useful links

Karen Holford, Trans-European Division

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Participating

Churches that encourage participation value the gifts and skills of their fellow human beings and create room for them to take part in forming all aspects of church life. In this way, they foster a sense of belonging and identification with the church.

 

  • As you endeavour to use online platforms for church meetings, invite young people with online/social media expertise to assist in setting up and running prayer meetings, Bible studies and worship services.
  • Enlist the help of young people who tend to be more internet and social media savvy to contact elderly members.  Provide them with the telephone/mobile number of an elderly member and ask them to connect and help the member with any internet or social media needs they may have, such as connecting to the church service, setting up a group chat for prayer etc.
  • Enlist volunteers to help generate online content for your church's website.  Such as contributions to a newsletter or bulletin, stories and testimonies of members, specific prayer requests.
  • Involve more mature youth to engage with people on live chat during streaming of live services.
  • Have a pause during the live streaming of services for households to participate by discussing among themselves a couple of preset questions.  Use a countdown clock so everyone is aware of the time.
  • Organise a prayer chain for your church where each member can contact 1-2 other people to pray with, eventually creating a web that encompasses all your members.

 

Useful links:

Patrick Johnson, Trans-European Division 

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Worshipping

Churches understand worship as the daily practice of making the Gospel reality. They search for creative opportunities to celebrate worship in everyday life and are committed to making the Sabbath a meaningful experience.

 

Jesus emphasises that where we worship is not important. What’s important is how we worship – in spirit and truth (John 4:25).

We are used to focusing on truth. We do this every week when we meet for Sabbath School and a Church Service. This resource focuses on the Spirit part of worship.

Spirit – this is a great time to focus on the spirit part of worship. Think of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-26: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All these qualities should be woven into our worship.

  • Love – show someone you love them by “inviting” them to participate remotely in your “at home” worship-experience, rather than passively watching an online service. Read the Bible together. Share how God has worked in your life over the years. Pray. Sing.
  • Joy – share the joy you have found in Jesus by recording a short testimony (3-5 minutes). Do not simply upload it to Facebook, or YouTube, but send it to a few people to encourage them.
  • Peace – many people right now are unsure about the future. This can be related to financial security, housing, or spiritually. Re-write and personalize some of the greetings from Paul in the New Testament where he mentions peace and send them to your friends. Ask God to grant you peace of mind, so you can remain calm, and hopeful as people turn to you with their fears.
  • Patience – ask God to give you patience. It’s difficult being at home most of the time. Demonstrate the patience you would like to experience from others. Remember this when you talk to colleagues, family members, and friends.
  • Kindness – be kind to the people you meet, when you must go out. It could be at the grocery store, or at the bank where a little act of kindness might go a long way.
  • Generosity – when you order take-out make sure you tip well. Call your local barber and volunteer to pay her/him in advance for your next haircut. Remember to return your tithes and offerings even though you are not physically in church.
  • Faithfulness – be faithful in the little things. Do not try to do everything at once. Choose a few people where you can make a difference and stick with it. Do not forget them.
  • Gentleness – remember that many people are scared and anxious. Be gentle with other people’s fears and worries when you talk to them.
  • Self-control – spend time with Jesus at home. Make use of the time you would normally spend in traffic, or on the bus. This could be your opportunity to spend time daily in Bible study and prayer. Make it a habit. Practice self-control by switching off your devices, so you don’t get distracted.

 

Other resources:

If you are looking for worship-experiences online, here are a few recommendations:

Thomas Rasmussen, Denmark 

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Teaching

Churches that teach the Word of God communicate in a relevant, creative and practical way.

  • Parents are very important teachers to their children. Research shows that children learn about spirituality primarily in their own home from their mum’s and dad’s spiritual experiences. It is the same with other areas of life, like cooking, cleaning, money management and many other subjects. Take time under lockdown to reflect on some things that you want your children to learn, and spend time together teaching them important life skills.
  • Remember that children (and adults) learn in many different ways. One easy way to teach a child is to use all five senses. Next time you have worship or teach your child about God, try to use as many senses as you can. You can find fifty free family worship ideas listed under the “Useful Links” below.
  • Spend time reading to your child every day. Or challenge the children to read on their own. Decide on a reward you will enjoy together when you have finished the reading. Like this Bible Marathon about Jesus’ last days: https://ted.adventist.org/images/Easter_Marathon.pdf
  • Memorizing Bible verses is very important and something that we don’t always have the time to do. Take time every day to memorize a Bible verse together. Resource: https://ted.adventist.org/images/Memory_Verses_-_Learning_for_Life-done.pdf
  • We often think Bible study means sitting down by yourself and reading the Bible. The Jews, on the other hand, often do Bible study by discussing a specific topic with someone else. Take time during lockdown to discuss your thoughts on a topic as a family or group. It can be at home around the kitchen table, or on a digital platform. This is a really good way to enhance your teenager’s knowledge of the Bible.
  • Grandparents and elderly church members are a treasure chest of experiences, knowledge and stories. Try to connect with each other over the generations and share favourite Bible stories, or stories from your own lives that you haven’t told your children before.
  • Teenagers live in a different world from the world you grew up. If you want to reach and teach teenagers, you need to be where they are. Whether it is on Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp or other social media platforms. All teenagers face dilemmas. Start with the problems that they face in everyday life. See if you can find answers to these questions together, both in the Bible and other places. Visit www.axis.org to download Christian discussion guides for parents and teens.
  • Make the time you have together enjoyable. Discover your child’s interests. Try to find ways that interest and excite your child when it comes to learning more about God. Ask open-ended questions, such as “Where did you see God at work today?” and together you will learn new things.

 

Useful links:

Karolina Poland, Sweden

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Serving

Mission and ministering always require an attitude of service. Serving churches follow the example of Jesus by ministering to the needs of others and seeking to discover new ways to serve.


  • Call elderly neighbours just to chat, see how they are doing and offer to go shopping for them. Let them know they can call you whenever they want to! Maybe you could even help an elderly person to start using a new digital platform so you can both see and talk to each other.
  • Join up with a group of church members and a local grocery store (and, if necessary, the local authorities) and offer free home delivery to quarantined members of the community at certain times during the week. The shop could pack the received orders, and you could individually take them to people’s homes. Let the shop do the advertising. Agree on a joint greeting to put in the boxes. Make sure the transport does not transmit any virus. Wear gloves and facemask when handling the goods.
  • If you have school-age children, work together with the teachers and some of the other parents and offer to help the class with homework at certain times during the week on their digital platform Or maybe some children would just welcome the chance to chat with someone outside the family for half an hour? Let the teachers advertise the service to both parents and students. 
  • Collaborate with some local sport-club leaders, or leaders of other activities for children and youth, and arrange a meet-up online for local teens or tweenagers, with games, quizzes, competitions, film-nights and other fun things. Look for an app like Houseparty to help you facilitate this.
  • Where people are allowed to go outside, create a treasure-hunt or an activity-trail in a local park, forest or other suitable area that families can do together. It is possible to do this event without leaving any traces. You could, for example, bring a Teddy bear and take pictures of him in different sites and situations and then post the pictures online, for example in a Facebook group. The children would then have to follow the trail of the Teddy with the help of the pictures (that can be viewed on a smart phone). If they want to, they could take pictures of their own Teddy in the same places and post it online. Advertise in the Facebook group for your local area. Such initiatives are much appreciated by parents and children alike.
  • Help create digital meeting places for local adults. Start and online club or offer your local community lectures, house concerts, quizzes, competitions, book discussions, interviews, movie nights, etc. Get in touch with interesting people and ask them to contribute. Be creative. Let the local newspaper be part of it as a community initiative and they will do the advertising.  Livestream on Facebook/YouTube, use Zoom or do both at the same time.
  • Make a poster for your window, or write with chalk on the pavement, “Praying for you – Praying for everyone”.

Other resources:

Harald Giesebrecht, Norway

Living Our Values in Lockdown - Reconciling

Reconciling and reconciled churches actively foster reconciliation and healing in the name of Jesus, both in the relationship to our heavenly Father and to each other.

 

  • Make a list of any individuals with whom you are experiencing some kind of tension or relationship breakdown. Write each name down, and think of a good memory that you have which involves that person: something fun you have done together, something they do or say that makes you laugh, an act of kindness that they showed you in the past. Write this memory down under their name. You’ve created a visual aid of the positive impact that this person has had on your life.
  • Take some time to reflect on the cause of the relationship breakdown, and - here’s the difficult part - reflect on anything you may have done that could have contributed to the situation. Rarely is any falling out totally one party’s fault. There is often something that we could have done differently - even if it’s a small thing - that might have led to a different outcome. Perhaps share your reflections with a trusted member of your Church family. They may be able to provide another perspective that you hadn’t considered.
  • Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Ask Him to give you the strength to forgive; the humility to take responsibility for anything you may have done to hurt the other party; the courage to reach out and reconnect with them; and the patience to wait for a response. Perhaps invite people from within your Church family to pray for you. You don’t have to disclose names or details for their prayers to make a difference.
  • Send the other party a short message, simply enquiring after their wellbeing. There is no need to mention previous events or causes of the relationship breakdown. Just keep it simple and focused on the current circumstances. For example: “Good morning, I just wanted to check if you are keeping well during this period of lockdown. I hope you’ve been able to stay safe and comfortable. Thinking of you.” This can be the biggest and most challenging step. Give yourself credit for doing something that is difficult.
  • Take time to think about how you would like the relationship to be in the future. If full reconciliation were to take place, would you want things to go back to the way they were, or would you like there to be certain boundaries in place? Would you want to revisit the factors that led to the breakdown, together with the other person? Or would you prefer to leave everything in the past? There aren’t wrong or right answers here. But this will help you to shape your reconciled relationship in a healthy way.
  • Use this experience as a lens to consider your own relationship with God. Think about the courage and humility it required for you to take the first steps towards reconciliation. God took it upon Himself to initiate reconciliation with us, even though this was the rare occasion where the cause of the relationship breakdown was totally our fault. He extended an olive branch to us, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Try and respond to God’s olive branch the way that you hope the other party in your relationship will respond to yours: with kindness, gratitude and a desire to be restored.

 

Useful links:

Matthew Herel, England

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Mentoring

Churches that care about personally accompanying their children and youth in particular, but also adults in their walk of faith are committed to fostering spiritual mentoring relationships.

  • Contact and inclusion is very important during lockdown, and this can be achieved by keeping in close personal touch using all possible (digital) platforms. Don’t forget that with the spread of COVID-19 many young people may feel worried, frightened, overwhelmed and scared.  Let your mentee know that you are thinking of them and that you are there for them.
  • Remote mentoring needs more structure than face-to-face mentoring, and reflective learning tools can help to facilitate this. An example would be keeping a reflective diary, or prayer journal, during the time of lockdown. You can ask your mentee to do the same and then you can exchange the content of your diary/ journal. This can be done online.
  • As a mentor you are also dealing with this pandemic.  Be open and honest about that.  This will go a long way to making your mentee feel it is okay to talk and feel the way they do.  You can tell your mentee about a difficult experience you went through earlier in your life and share how that experience shaped who you are today.
  • Ask young people to set one personal goal for something they want to achieve during this time, and then periodically talk about their progress. Support them by connecting them with people and ideas (something to watch, listen or read) that can broaden their world and help them achieve their goal.
  • Challenge them to do some creative projects that are possible during isolation and share with them what you are doing (see “Activities to bring us together during isolation” in Useful links)
  • Keep focussed on what is important - your relationship with your mentee. Be the listening ear, be the example, be empathetic.  Remind them to stay safe and healthy in body, mind, spirit and relationships. Reflect on Philippians 4 and Romans 12 for inspiration and ideas.
  • Commit Col. 1: 9-12 to memory and reflect on this text in a prayer journal.

Useful Links

B Somebody 2 Someone: https://disciple.org.au/resources/b-somebody-2-someone/

Mentoring as a Way of Life:  https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/2017/03/Mentoring-A-way-of-life    

Activities To Bring Us Together During Isolation:  https://adventist.scot/news/article/go/2020-04-05/activities-to-bring-us-together-while-isolated/

Good discipleship journal resource to be swapped between mentor and mentee: https://www.youthscape.co.uk/store/product/swap;

Paul Tompkins, Scotland

Clair Sanches-Schutte, Trans-European Division

Living Our Values in Lockdown – Training

Churches that are open for learning provide training opportunities for their members to develop individual gifts and skills and promote services and ministries in the church.

Learning is a fundamental principle of life, and where there is no more learning, there is stagnation.

  • This new situation requires us to learn new skills. Organize a training event where young people can train the leaders of your church to use digital platforms. Besides that, young people can help to train church leaders in many digital skills.
  • Work with a core team of 7-10 people that you have already identified as leaders. Have personal online meetings with them talking about their Learning needs and training them for their ministry. Encourage every leader to train someone else for ministry.
  • Encourage your young people to do a “Spiritual Gifts” questionnaire that is available in your language (or use the “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” in the Useful links). Arrange a personal online meeting with everybody who did the questionnaire to discuss their spiritual gifts and to help them identify possible ministries that would allow them to utilize their gifts.
  • Let young people design and/or lead some of the virtual activities and lessons you assign to your group. Have a conversation with them afterwards to discuss their involvement, what went well, what they could do differently next time, and what skills they need to develop further.
  • Create an online learning group among the members of your church family (WhatsApp, Zoom, etc.). Choose a topic that interests you and invite others with similar interests to share ideas, resources and give comments. People can post texts, podcasts and videos to contribute to the learning experience.
  • Encourage your members to consider taking some free online courses whilst they are at home during lockdown. Many universities are offering all kinds of subjects for those who want to learn during this time of isolation (see Useful links). Another suggestion is using the Adventist learning community, where you can explore free online training courses and resources for different ministries, including youth ministry.
  • Encourage your youth (and other members) to take advantage of this unique gift of time to disconnect a little from the Internet and spend time reading a good book. Create an online book club. This is a fun activity where everyone reads the same book within a set period, and then expresses their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc.

 

Useful links:

Delmar Reis, Albania 

Living Our Values in Lockdown - Leading

Strategical and purpose-driven churches lead with a vision and passion, integrating the younger generation in the leadership activities of the church.

 

JOHN C. MAXWELL: “THE TRUE MEASURE OF LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE—NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS.” 

  • Self-development – this is a great opportunity to invest in yourself and your leadership skills. Organise your filing system and know what resources you have available. Enrol in an online course or watch tutorials to help you use your tools more efficiently. Finish projects that you started but had to put aside for different reasons.
  • Cultivate a solid relationship with your team – set regular times when you can chat, pray and hear one another. Identify and appreciate the strengths. Use video chat to make the meeting more personal.
  • Expose your team to good resources – share quality material (pdf books, articles, video clips, sermons, etc) that will enable and empower your team to efficiently minister in their area of influence. (some resources in the links below)
  • Great time to plan – share, plan and scrutinise how you will implement the strategy. Learn to imagine together and ask lots of ‘What if’ questions. Implement what you can do now and develop an expectation for when self-isolation is over.
  • Significance of Spiritual leadership – much emphasis should be put on developing a personal relationship with Christ, studying God’s word and putting time aside for personal prayer. Make family worship the highlight of the day and put ‘God First’ as we focus on life and what is ‘really important’.

Useful links:

 Emanuel Bran, Wales

Individual booklets (1 value per booklet), you can find here: https://ted.adventist.org/youth-ministries/resources/leaders-parents/1568-icor-church-of-refuge