‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.’
(C.S. Lewis: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
On Monday we both attended an online seminar held by the Southern Counties Baptist Association (SCBA), which was intended to help us all reflect on what God is saying to our churches through the Covid-19 crisis. The fifty or so participants found it very helpful to think, pray and talk together on this theme. Along with the rest of our deacons (or trustees) we are prayerfully considering what God is saying to us at DGBC, and will be planning to what extent we can open the building in the coming weeks, as the government eases the restrictions on lockdown. As you know, the sanctuary is currently being used by Foodshare, through which God is mightily blessing the most needy members of our community, and we are very grateful that He has used our building in this way. Foodshare hopes soon to return to a collection rather than delivery model of distributing food, which will involve changes to the way they use the building, and they have relevant plans in place.
However, before we make any other practical changes, we will need to be sure that we can keep people safe. You will have heard that the government is gradually allowing churches to open in some ways if they feel able to be ‘Covid secure’. For example, in the hope that this will be true for us at some point, we are installing hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the building. We will be carrying out risk assessments, so we will have to be wise and discerning in what we can and cannot do. Please understand that if we do not feel we can implement the government’s advice, we will have to make tough decisions about which groups and services we can continue to offer, and how often we will be ‘open for business’.* This will unfold over many months, so please do not be impatient for things to get back to normal – the reality is that there will probably be no going back to the way things were before.
We are not alone, as every other participant in Monday’s meeting was dealing with the same decisions and problems, but there was one theme which came out of all the discussions: namely, that God is giving us new opportunities for Him to do more than we can ask or imagine. We have already found that most of us can access home groups, our regular Sunday service and even Messy Church through online technology – who would have guessed we would be doing that at the beginning of this year? This has meant that we have visitors from around the country joining us on Sunday mornings, so our ministry has grown. We have also kept a constant presence in the lives of our Messy Church and Noah’s Ark families through social media. Who knows how God will continue to enlarge upon these resources so that many more lives are impacted? We don’t know what’s ahead, but we do know that He has plans to give us hope and a future, and that He will finish the work He has started. So let us not be afraid, or anxious to return to the safety of what we have known before, because, to quote CS Lewis, God, the King of kings, the great lion, ‘is on the move and He is not safe…but He is good.’
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline