The current circumstances with COVID-19 present us with a unique challenge to maintain the strength of our relationships within our ecclesial family. This month we asked a number of sisters for ideas on how to support the ecclesia and continue to foster these precious relationships at a time when we aren’t able to come together in the usual way as an ecclesia.
As we mentioned in the introduction to our How-To series, we will be sharing a new question each month with suggestions/ideas from sisters from different stages of life and geographical locations. We are not intending to present “one answer” to many of these questions, but instead want to make available a buffet of ideas to help individuals and families “Magnify the LORD” in their lives.
General Ecclesial Ideas
- We split the ecclesial address book between a few sisters to make sure everyone in the ecclesia had a weekly phone call. These sisters also made sure everyone had groceries or would run essential errands.
- Our ecclesia has created a “Whatsapp groups” for the brethren and a separate one for the sisters (for those that like to stay connected that way.)
- Our ecclesia has been randomly pairing all the members together in small groups to have someone to check up on, call, or do the readings with one night. All the young people have also been paired up in random groups each week.
- A sister in our meeting created an ecclesial photo album for us all to contribute photos to online to show what we have been up to.
- I am currently working on building an online inventory list of the bookstore so that I can share that with my ecclesia, and I’ll be able to deliver the books to the doorstep.
- Our recording brother has sent out an encouraging email every single day since the lock down started, it’s usually a paragraph from a book or article
- A couple brothers in our ecclesia collected the information for all the available resources for those who have lost their job or need additional income/relief and shared it. They also included a touching section about why the ecclesia is to care and provide for its members, reminding the members to talk to someone in the ecclesia if they are needing assistance (financial or otherwise)
- A brother in our meeting has been sending out a daily devotion to the ecclesia.
- There is an optional Bible readings group in our meeting and an additional Bible study evening for those with more time to spare.
- We’ve started a phone tree called “The 12 Tribes” and split the ecclesia into 12 groups – everyone is personally responsible for staying in touch with the members of their tribe.
- We are doing several seminars over zoom with our different stages of interested friends from Seminar.
- Ecclesial members are asked to take a picture of themselves/families in their homes doing the readings/ watching meeting online or at the dinner table etc. The recording secretary sends out 2 or 3 pictures each week to the ecclesia.
- A sister in our ecclesia chose a theme, and then asked every family to record them reading a favourite verse of theirs that fit that theme. She compiled all the audio clips into a slideshow with beautiful pictures of nature playing. It was incredible to hear all the voices (young and old!) sharing together.
- We’ve been doing a ‘sisters get together’ on Zoom once a week; someone shares a short devotion and then everyone chats about the thoughts and visits. It is a few less people so everyone can see more people and get a better opportunity to chat.
- There are a lot of virtual classes available right now. We attended a North American study day with two UK speakers (who were speaking from the UK!) Perhaps you could organize an ecclesia study day and still “bring in” an overseas speaker…they might have some free time right now and be able to do it from their home!
- Making sure that all the members of your ecclesia have a way to stay connected, if they need a tablet or computer then maybe the ecclesia provides it for them, or if they need internet at their house – just making sure that it is easy for them to stay connected with the rest of the ecclesia.
- We are currently planning an online virtual sister’s tea for our ecclesia.
- Drop off delightful deserts at each other’s homes maybe attached with a bible verse or meditation.
- If your ecclesia isn’t providing its own virtual meeting – then collect what everyone is doing and share it with the ecclesia – it might give other’s ideas and give encouragement to know we are all in it together.
- Support your own ecclesial meeting, Bible classes and CYC’s first, and then add in extra ecclesial events if you have the time/desire.
- If your ecclesial members live within a reasonable distance from each other than spend a day baking refreshments. You can pack up and deliver at the door of each member and then after Bible classes you can all eat the same refreshment.
- Share through email or texting any classes, books or podcasts you have found helpful and encouraging with members.
- Since we have had virtual meetings our Recording Brother has sent out a weekly email. This includes the announcements from Sunday, reminder of jobs that week, any fraternal news or online study days to be aware of and the audio postings from the last week. This has been very helpful.
- Our Sunday School classes have Whatsapp groups so the kids can keep in touch, send photos and videos to their friends all together.
- Leave the Virtual meeting room open for a couple of hours for people to visit. Sometimes people might not want to talk much with everyone on, but as less people are on they are happy to chat. Other’s just enjoy having the noise of people in their homes while they make lunch.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Caring for the Elderly/those alone
- Make sure the elderly members know how to use different online programs (Zoom Room, GoTo Meeting) and can find talks or podcasts if interested.
- Volunteers are assigned to 1 or 2 members (especially our older members and those in isolation) in the meeting to do the readings with each week. This is done over the phone or through video calls depending on what they prefer
- We dropped off pansies (flowers) on the doorsteps of the elderly or those who were housebound. We made sure to wipe off the container with Lysol wipes.
- We have a lot of older brothers and sisters at our meeting, some without internet, so I’ve been trying to come up with ideas to keep connected with them. We have mailed a few compilation CD’s to some of our older sisters.
- The children make cards (hug cards example 1 and 2) that we then disinfect and mail out to elders and other Sunday School friends.
- Bringing over a pre-made meals and snacks for them.
- Call to chat randomly though the week – even if they are not in your ecclesia – if you know they are housebound and on their own, then give them a call!
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Caring for the Children
- We started a weekly Bible coloring contest. Some weeks we have “search and finds” with Bible verses for the kids to look up. They would write out the verse and then find something in their house or yard that matches the verse. The children take photos and send it in to us. We drop off/mail stickers to them as prizes.
- We e-mail out a “letter” from a pretend friend in Israel to families.
- A good friend from our meeting had the idea that we make “toy Library” boxes to swap: we packed some favourite books/puzzles/games and included some crafts and baking and then we drop it at their front door. They do the same with us. We’ve done this a few times and our kids are always excited to see the box arrive at the doorstep!
- The moms that are homebound with little children can really use the moral support. Arrange a time each week to video chat with their kids – you could read them stories and talk to them while the mom has a much-needed sanity break!
- After CYC (littles & junior) and Bible Class we leave the Zoom “Room” open for the children to visit their friends.
- Our youngest CYC includes reading Bible picture books, singing, doing a craft altogether and coloring the same picture.
- Offer to teach your Sunday School class online to stay connected with the kids. You can send the craft or coloring page ahead of time for parents to print off along with a list of items needed (glue, scissors etc.) This might not be on Sunday. Our ecclesia has organized all the Sunday School classes so there is a different one each week – this helps the parents manage who needs the computer when and gives the kids something special to look forward to during the week.
“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”
Ideas for CYC & the Young People
- Our CYC has changed its day to Saturday night instead of Friday night so that our CYC members can attend additional CYC’s on Friday night. With the time change across Canada we’ve also been able to join into CYC’s from other provinces!!
- We have been playing Kahoot every Friday night for CYC. We do the readings first, and then use Kahoot! to review the daily readings. I’ve heard of others playing an online version of Family Feud too.
- We’ve organized a different challenge for our CYC each week – sometimes they are scriptural, sometimes silly – things like re-create a famous Biblical art work at home, what can you balance on your head challenge, or an exercise challenge, learning sign language. **Note: for the re-creating famous Biblical art you may want to have an adult/parent preview options first as a lot of famous Biblical art contains immodest subject models**
- Have different CYC challenges – like build a Bible LEGO display, film a charade for others to guess, old photo challenge (everyone submitted a baby/toddler photo of themselves and we had everyone try to guess who each picture was.)
- Have an Israel Map challenge – everyone in the CYC gets a city and they do Biblical and historical research on it and compose it all together. You could do this for all sorts of topics (first principal inserts, preaching, Bible timelines, famous people from the Bible or history)
- Have Meeting or CYC in cars. Everyone in the parking lot and using a sound system you could give a class – allows again everyone to see each other.
- We have a CYC Whatsapp Group and each day something gets sent to the group using this schedule:
- MONDAY –Podcast of Jason Hensley from Magnify Him Together
- TUEDAY – Fun weekly challenge for the young people
- WEDNESDAY – Minute meditation recording from Magnify Him Together
- THURSDAY – Sign language tutorial from one of our young people – the challenge here is to learn the sign language – send a video of you doing it and tag someone else on the group to do it next etc.
- FRIDAY – Encouraging quote or spiritual song
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12
For Special Occasions
- A wedding was supposed to occur, but because of the restrictions in place only 10 people could attend. A group of sisters went to the ecclesial hall ahead of the wedding, decorated it and cooked a meal (which was kept warm). They then left before the wedding party arrived and the wedding was live-streamed so people could watch at home.
- We’ve been able to use our Zoom Room to get brothers and sisters in isolation to join our ecclesia – it’s really helped us to appreciate the challenges that brothers and sisters in isolation face on an ongoing basis. One ecclesia had over 100 extra sign ins to their weekly meeting.
- Invite children that you know are from a small ecclesia (or have no Sunday School) to join your virtual Sunday School & CYC.
- Back to Snail Mail! We mailed our “Heart Attack” cards to our ecclesia.
- Nothing beats physically picking up the phone and calling those in your ecclesia. It might feel awkward and forced to begin with, but it will help so much to be a mutual sharing of what’s really going on in your lives – so we can bear our burdens with them.
- calling those who shouldn’t be going out and asking if you can get their groceries for them or run any other errands.
- I’ve seen videos of people singing hymns or Bible music and sharing them online.
- We’ve been writing cards and creating art for people in our meeting.
- We’ve left side walk chalk messages for members in our ecclesia at their houses.
- A family in our ecclesia showed up at my sister’s house with a big birthday sign to sing her happy birthday from the edge of her property…. with masks on and all!
- Leaving gift bags at people’s homes with a craft kit.
- If you live near brothers or sisters it’s nice to have ‘sidewalk’ visits
- Organizing a drive by parade for someone who is alone or sick at home.
- Sharing good classes to listen to with others.
- Playing a game of Zoom or Skype with a friend or family. Charades, Monopoly Deal & Phase 10 have been played successfully.
- Redeeming the time! Now is a great time for personal Bible study time so you are better able to edify the ecclesia.
- We have had people dropping off gifts on our doorstep. A ten-year-old boy made this beautiful wooden wine tray.
- Send a family an outdoor or indoor scavenger hunt and hide a prize on their property for them to find at the end.
- This is a great time to write cards to people, send flowers, send a photo with a Bible verse, one family wrapped up individual toilet rolls in beautiful paper and dropped them off!
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”