When the last Littleport Life was being published, churches were writing their articles back in March. At this time, we were at the start of the lockdown when churches had to close. With their buildings shut, churches had to quickly adapt and provide new ways to enable believers to continue to worship and fellowship with each other. Most of this adaptation took place through the use of the Internet with online services premiering on Sundays, fellowship and prayer meetings continuing via Zoom and some incredible worship sessions happening within musicians’ homes through the aid of modern technology. The best example of this was when churches of all denominations from across the UK came together to sing a blessing over our nation. If you haven’t seen this then I encourage you to look up ‘UK Blessing’ on YouTube.
At the Vine we were fortunate enough to have a team of willing and able volunteers who could use technology to allow us to share our service online. As one of the people involved in this, I admit enjoying learning new skills in iMovie to add special effects to enhance our children’s church sessions. At the Vine we chose to host a pre-recorded family service each week, which was uploaded to YouTube or watched by DVD for those who were not yet online. In the service we continued to have someone lead, then others sing/play from their home, someone to pray, our children’s worker then provided some teaching for the children and finally we ended with someone else giving the message. Each week we tried to alternate between different people within the congregation, so in the end we had many different individuals from the church involved, including the children from our church who often read from the bible and prayed or acted out parts in our children’s teaching. We did this to allow our church family to see each other. In this respect, though this time has meant we are separated physically from each other, we are in new ways being brought back together through our shared experience online.
The service also changed the way we personally experienced church as a family. Pre-covid we would be separated from our children in the Sunday Service as they went into their children’s sessions whilst we stayed in the main service. Now we sit together on a Sunday morning and share the service together.
From July onwards we were permitted to meet together again, but as a church we chose to do this differently to how we did pre-covid. With a number in our congregation vulnerable to the virus, we decided to continue our weekly online service, but with the addition of having small house churches within our members’ gardens. Interestingly this house church model was how the churches began back in the 1st century around the eastern Mediterranean and Jerusalem. So ironically we now have this mix of old practices and new technology allowing us to meet together in this unusual time.
Though we have been able to adapt in these difficult times, what we are currently experiencing is in some ways (technology) a poor substitute for the real thing and our hearts yearn for the time when we can meet again safely – young and old and praise God together in worship. Even Jesus needed the companionship of his disciples in his darkest times. To find out more about our church, please visit our website at VineCCL.org.uk where you can also see archived links to our Sunday Services.