At Pinner Baptist Church, we can’t wait to be able to gather together again as we used to! However, as we move towards being ‘back to normal’, we feel it’s important to take some time to gather as a community to reflect on what God has done in our lives and church over the past year, and share our experiences.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see leaders like Moses, Solomon and Ezra gathering the whole nation together at significant moments, to lament, commemorate and celebrate. Invariably, these gatherings involved a feast, and our own event will be based around a meal – something that is all the more poignant now given how long it is since we have been able to fellowship together in this way.
We’d encourage all churches to consider setting some time aside to look back over the year that has passed, allowing church members to share their joys and struggles, and what God has done in their lives. We hope this would act as a uniting event, allowing us to lament together for what has been lost, to grieve for those who have died, and to thank God for His faithfulness through such difficult times. Our hope is that it would also be a time to commission ourselves into a new season of life and of community.
What it could look like for you?
- This could be an event for your whole congregation, or in a larger church it may be more appropriate to do it in life groups or other areas of ministry.
- It could be a special Sunday service, or another time that is set aside, such as an evening or lunchtime gathering.
- Consider allowing some time for people to be together socially before and after the event – you could plan a ‘bring and share’ meal, which everybody can contribute towards.
- Allocate some time to mark those who have passed away over the past year, from COVID or other causes, whose funerals had to be kept small.
- Allocate some time to celebrate the joyful life events that have occurred – weddings, new children, etc!
- Consider asking some people to prepare a testimony in advance. It may be worth aiming for a variety of different experiences to try and represent all.
- Make space to consider those in the church who may still have to shield, for example, due to ongoing immunological conditions.
- Take some time to pray and ask for God’s direction for the coming months.
You can use this sheet to give out to participating members ahead of time to encourage them to reflect on their year and to think about what their testimony would consist of.
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