What is God saying to you and to others? What will future ministry and mission look like? What things need to remain the same? What changes do we need to embrace? In 2020 we invited New Zealand Baptists to reflect upon these questions in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic and to share their thoughts on the future. We’re now reproducing these reflections here for all to see and be inspired by!

As easing of restrictions occurs it is tempting to think things will just return to normal, but this week a writer caught my attention: Peter Piot, a London Virologist, succumbed to COVID-19 becoming seriously ill. He wrote “without a coronavirus vaccine, we will never be able to live normally again. The only real exit strategy from this crisis is a vaccine that can be rolled out worldwide… And despite the efforts, it is still not even certain that developing a COVID-19 vaccine is possible.” Maybe we are in this for the long haul! 

During lockdown I have found the live streamed service from our church life-giving. It’s not the same as church and I look forward to meeting together again, but there have been gains. These services have been very creative and inclusive. My son with an intellectual disability appears in one of the worship songs. The preacher in one service was in Edinburgh and spoke powerfully of his experience as a chest physician amidst the pandemic. The worship created in isolated bubbles, lifted my eyes to Jesus. 

I hear of some who have friends, neighbours and family now joining the live stream who have never been in a church. The barrier is so much lower as they can view from the anonymity of their homes. A smaller church also has linked to the live stream—a new level of co-operation between churches. I hear of children who are linking into the children’s online programme who are unchurched. 

Many more are being reached than ever walked in the doors of our church in the past. We’ve discovered an underutilised resource that is in our hands, the video function on a cell phone! We’ve come to value those with IT skills who have invested so much. 

That leaves me with questions: Do we need to be limited to time and place in delivering the message of Jesus effectively? Do preachers always have to be present? Can we use video to create more inclusion? Can we create online opportunities for those seeking or stuck in isolation and online ways to reach children? 

Let’s build on the gains for the long haul ahead of us!

Contributor: Helen Geddes, Dunedin City Baptist Church

Read other reflections on the future of ministry and mission by New Zealand Baptists:

Fiona Beals; Grant Harris; Kate Dunstan-Brown; Chris ChamberlainJonathan Edmeades; Cliff Thompson; Jamie Li; Dave Tims; Donna Denmead; Richardson Lau; Christine Saywell; Mike Crudge

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