Almost 4 years ago, God began a small gathering of people with ‘no fixed address’ meeting in a dance studio in Bowden. Three months later we found out that studio was being bulldozed to make way for a new train station. Almost immediately, God provided us with the Ballroom on Orsmond St, which has served as an amazing place to glorify God and bring Joy to the City.
Even still, there have been a number of occasions that we have been unable to meet on a Sunday because of prior venue bookings.
In other words, since our beginnings we have always had challenges to face and yet always the constant blessing of being reminded that we are not a building, we are the people of God.
The newly announced Coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings are another reminder of this very thing. Yes, it will be challenging in the coming weeks and months, but we can trust God because we are already part of a story where he has been nothing but faithful.
I have to admit, I shed some tears today as the potential reality hit that we will not be able to meet together for some time. I love our Sunday gatherings. I love you all. Often, I just can’t wait to be with you to worship together on a Sunday
But we can all take comfort in Psalm 23:6
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”
The following information is the most up to date plans we have made for us to continue being the church that Jesus began 4 years ago, albeit through different means and forms.
As I announced earlier today, we will not be having our usual Sunday gathering in the Ballroom this Sunday. This decision will be reviewed weekly but based on current government advice it looks likely that it will be this way for some time.
Instead, CityReach West will keep being the church in a different way, as we invite and encourage everyone to continue to come together in your own homes on Sunday morning at 10am. I believe it is important over the coming weeks and months that we all continue to set aside that same time of 10am on Sunday morning for worship so that we can be unified together even while we are physically apart.
So we are encouraging everyone, where it is safe to do so, to organise meeting together in someone’s home and share in a time of worship.
As a first step, consider whether you can have a small gathering at your home with your family and invite a small group to your place to join in. You may be able to organise a number of smaller gatherings from within your community group to make this happen.
If you would like to meet with other members this Sunday but are not currently part of a Community Group or simply don’t know where to start, please get in touch via the information below, where we will be ready to do what we can to help out.
Resourcing home church
On Friday evening a video resource will be provided to everyone to help guide Sunday morning worship for your small gathering. This resource will include some worship songs on video with lyrics, a newly recorded sermon (continuing our series through the gospel of Luke in the lead up to Easter), and a time of prayer. For the future we are investigating whether we can do this as a live service online but for now it will be pre-recorded
Fortnightly Community Groups
Community Groups will continue as per the leadership of each current Community Group, so please keep in contact with your groups for updates on what that will look like for you. CG leaders have received the same health and safety advice you see here.
Fortnightly Prayer Gatherings
We are currently investigating ways that we can livestream our prayer meeting so that everyone who wants to, can connect in and continue to seek the Lord together during this time. We will provide more details about this early next week.
Some final things
In order to keep safe and healthy, please keep the following in mind.
- Keep it small
We’re recommending that groups remain at less than 15 people including children, though hosts can seek to vary that number depending on the capacity of your home.
- Be safe
If you are experiencing any flu like symptoms or are at particularly high risk of experiencing the more dangerous effects of COVID19, please stay home with our blessing. Follow the advice of health care professionals, let someone know and get creative with church and community from your own home.
- Watch this space
As information continues to roll in from the government, there will be ongoing updates to how we will connect into the future. Watch the CityReach West Noticeboard, the church website and request the “Hey Westies” weekly email for further updates.
- Stay in touch
Community is part of the way God has created and wired us to be and so we’re encouraging everyone, please stay in touch – with your Community Groups, your friends, family, other church members and with us here at the church office. We would love to receive photos, videos, testimonies, prayers and more from each of our home church gatherings, to continue to share, encourage and connect as a church family in this time.
Please also utilise the new communication options available on the CityReach West website if you need help, can offer help or have a prayer request or encouragement. To request to be added to “Hey Westies” email list, please email [email protected]
Finally, I want to say thank you to so many of you who have let us know you are praying and are available to help out in any way. We have many people in our community with a great deal of expertise, training and knowledge in the health and medical field and I have been blessed by your support.
I am also so thankful to our staff team who this week have done an incredible amount of work way over and above expectations, to make sure we serve the church well in the coming days. (They didn’t teach us about this at Bible College!!)
On our Facebook noticeboard page I have included a second video where I address why this moment could even be a good thing for the church, followed by a beautiful song of worship led by Sally George. I pray it blesses you and leads you to spend a moment of your time worshipping our Lord.
Love in Christ,
On behalf of the CityReach West Elders.