Posted by Chris Mason on 11th October 2020
It has been amazing to see how, in the midst of these challenging times, our church family has clung to God and to one another. The incredible amounts of meal trains, prayer chains, zoom catch-ups and support calls have been beautiful to be a part of. These times have also been a struggle. Almost all of our church family are grieving the loss of our connection points and church rhythms, our corporate times of worship and fellowship, our children's work and ministries to the city and, whilst our God is bigger than the current crisis, we recognise the cost and the pain of this season.
As we met for our Family Meeting on Sunday 11th, we shared two big pieces of news aiming to help us move forward together, into a longer season than we had hoped, with fresh faith and places to connect with one another:
Sundays will continue being streamed online, and this will remain the primary way for the majority of people to connect with corporate worship. We hope that you'll continue to gather and connect the same as you have been doing up until now. We are also in a place to start to open up our building again for a few to gather. This won't be a return back to the same way we used to gather, there will be no corporate singing, no mingling and chatting to others, no refreshments and unfortunately, The Nest, Treehouse and Oak Youth won't be running. However, for those who would like to be back in the building, we'll be following a set of COVID secure guidance during our Sunday broadcasts, beginning on Sunday 25th October. Due to the current guidance, we are extremely restricted in capacity but would love to know whether you would be interested in coming along on Sundays so we can work out who can come when. Please also watch the video below about what our Sunday Gatherings at the building will look like.
Update 26/10/2020: you can now book to attend our gatherings in person from the Monday morning prior to the Sunday, please click here and follow the booking link.
Update 02/11/2020: due to the second national lockdown we'll be pausing opening our building for Sunday Gatherings - but as we have been doing since March, we'll continue joining together online.
To make our new Sundays work, and to be able to welcome guests for the first time, we are looking to build a new 'Hosting Team'. This team will welcome and check-in people entering the building, ensure the guidance is being met and help people find seats. If you'd like to join this team, please click here.
We are also able to plug our live stream into a Zoom call that you can join in on from 10:15 on a Sunday morning. This will increase the opportunity to see and worship alongside others, similar to our Fuel prayer meetings, on a Sunday morning. The link will be on the Sunday page on our website.
As this season moves from weeks to months and into another year, our smaller groups are becoming ever more essential for connection, for care and for discipleship. With this in mind, we are pressing pause on our three geographical Oak Communities and starting seven new Community Groups - creating many more opportunities for connection in smaller numbers (6-12 people). We understand that for some this is a shakeup to the group you love and for others an opportunity to get plugged in where you haven't been able to in the past - but for our whole church family and for new people joining us over this season, our Community Groups are our primary place of connection and discipleship. They are THE places you get to care for others, encourage one another and bring prophetic words, and be cared for by your church family. We will be helping every member of the church to get plugged in to one of these new groups and would strongly encourage you to connect where you can. Even if you are in a regular Life Group, we would encourage you to connect with a new Community Group - your wider church family needs you.
We'd love your thoughts on a couple of questions like what day works best for you - please fill in the super short survey here.
As the early church was scattered, recorded for us in the book of Acts, the season of not being able to preach or gather seemed to stretch out almost unendingly in front of them. But during this season of scattering, God did more in their hearts and more in their cities than they had experienced when they were gathering in one place - the church spread to the whole known world as they discovered God's grace and mercy in ways they had only read about. It was not an easy time for them as it is not an easy time for us now. Many suffered. But the church grew, the cities and nations were blessed and we find ourselves here today as a result of their faithfulness to God in the midst of their suffering. May you know God's presence, his love and his power as we grow together and bless our cities in this season. May you discover the riches of His grace and kindness as, together, we join God's mission to see the world transformed through Jesus' power to change lives.
Much love and grace
On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team
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