It’s been quite a week – and it’s only Tuesday, but I said on Sunday night at Ivy Central that the only way we can move forward together is trusting the Lord and ‘one day at a time.’ I referenced the chapter of the Bible I started 2020 with, 2 Chron 20 – where the nation was called to shift focus, fast and pray as the leader declared, ‘We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’ They praised God and then saw him do what only he could do.
Watch that teaching here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW9PejaRQIo
Already my heart hurts as I think about how this is already going to affect all of us, you are all in my prayers wherever you are. This morning as I made that same choice of worship over worry and checked in with the Boss again in light of recent events. He said what he told me last time;
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
ONE DAY AT A TIME
That’s how we will get through this best, together. We will be flexible, adaptable, and courageous – as the Lord helps us.
I can’t imagine how anyone could get through this without knowing John 3:16 – that God loves the world so much he gave his Son to save anyone who puts their trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God. He lived and died on a cross for our sins then rose again to prove it all. Nothing is impossible! He conquered the grave! That is my solid and lasting hope, no matter what happens, I know Him. I know he is Lord, in charge, and coming soon. If you are yet to have that confidence that comes from that relationship, talk with Him right now – tell him you are sorry for all your sins and ask Him to save you and give you what the Bible calls ‘That Blessed Hope”.
I spoke with the staff team today (I’ll try to find a way to get the recording of that out if I can) as we met for a necessary short time before releasing them to work from home. If you are part of the Ivy family we all want to be in touch with you across various platforms so PLEASE get connected on Facebook and sign up for the Ivy email which we will do a lot more than weekly so we can stay in touch. Expect more contact from us in the days and weeks ahead and please contact your site leaders if there are urgent prayer needs.
Can I also invite you to go to Anthonydelaney.com and sign up there for the free email subscription as I’m going to try to keep blogging things that I hope will be helpful for you. I said to the staff that even if we end up socially distant, we are spiritually connected as the family of God. Nothing can stop prayer happening, and nothing can stop prayer working either!
We will keep on adjusting to the novel coronavirus, and I expect we’ll keep on having a “new normal” to settle into for the months ahead. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but we are more than overcomers through Him who loves us.
HOW WILL WE MEET?
Well by the grace of God I am planning that this Sunday morning I will be at Ivy Central with just a very few people, at 1030am we will hold a short worship service which we will livestream across various platforms (we are working on the best way to do that so keep checking these messages so you know what we are doing). If you have kids with you, watch with them and we will provide activity ideas for you to enable them to join in but also everyone make sure you have a little bread and juice so you can partake of communion with us together wherever we are joined in the ‘bond of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:3).
This is the only meeting we will be holding at Ivy, all other gatherings are cancelled for the foreseeable future as we follow the Government strategy to help deal with Covid-19 by suppression. We have cancelled all other site meetings, tonight we are cancelling the Marriage Course and tomorrow the Alpha Course will find other ways to meet online. Of course I do this with a heavy heart but I am sure you will understand.
We will also join with Churches Together in the nation who have called for a national day of prayer this Sunday – Mothering Sunday – urging everyone to pray and light a candle in your window if safe to do so at 7pm. We will pray for the government and those trying to contain the virus, for health workers, for the most vulnerable. Praying against fear and worry and that we would be people of hope.
We are also working hard of putting together some very practical resources to help us all stay connected to be church in the week, because the church is a people God is building, not a building people meet God in.
Please bear with us as we make adjustments to how we meet in the days and weeks ahead. We have been asked about Grow Group meetings and we discussed that together today and as the Govt are giving advice rather than orders, here in turn is my advice so far.
I’ve spoken to other church leaders who are pushing everything into small group meetings.
My Grow Group has some people at high risk. We will meet tonight by Skype. We will pray and read the word and grow together as disciples.
The NHS advice I have seen so far states that those in high risk groups or over 70 should avoid all social contact and others should minimise such contact as much as possible. We have had contact from some saying your Grow Group is the closest thing you have to family here and being completely isolated is not advisable even from a mental health perspective, so another of our site leaders has suggested that his group is going to multiply into smaller groups – more like prayer triplets.
If you DO make the decision to meet, check in on everyone in advance, wash your hands and take all the necessary hygiene precautions the media is full of. Maybe you could meet for a prayer walk outside instead? Whatever happens, get creative, stay connected, making a plan to care for one another and connect with the Lord is maybe more important for us than ever. Perhaps you can start a new ‘Grow Group’ within your household – and there is such spiritual openness right now you may even find people who have been saying ‘No’ to God and may not usually go to church will join with you and pray?
If you’re part of a Grow Group- or you’re leading one, we need you more than ever so please keep your normal night of the week open for meeting together! If you are not email the office email@example.com and we will get you connected. We are looking to how we can provide leaders with access to video conferencing software, as well as some ideas on how to effectively lead virtual meetings but be proactive in checking in with one another digitally, call, message, Facetime regularly through whatever means is most comfortable for you.
Go to the Ivy Grow Group blog at https://ivygrowgroups.wordpress.com and you’ll find we have a very simple structure that is really easy to use for your group times and one we’d highly recommend you go with. You can do this every day if you’re self isolating! (Go on Youversion and get a daily study plan?)
It can go like this – (thanks to Doug Paul for these ideas)
Quick Check-in: How is everyone doing in general?
Bible Study & Discussion using the Discovery Bible Study Method:
Read the passage: What does the passage say about God? (discuss)
Read the passage again: What does the passage say about people? (discuss)
Read the passage again: What does the passage say about me? (discuss)
Read the passage again: How people identify what God is saying to them and share
Next: Coronavirus engagement:
(Remember that while the virus will cause people to get sick, many people might be struggling mentally, financially, unsure how they will make childcare or care for older people and how other aspects of their life will work. We want to engage with all of this.)
Thinking through our Circles of Influence: (watch what I said at Ivy Central on this)
How are the vulnerable people in our GG doing? How can we/you serve them?
How are our neighbours and colleagues doing? How can we/you serve and encourage them?
How are those you’re relationally connected to doing? How can we/you bless them?
We will have other initiatives for how we can help people going forward in our community and the city – again keep in touch so we can let you know about them.
Time of Prayer and Intercession:
Use KNOWING, GROWING, GOING as your pattern. Even in times of crisis, we want to think and pattern our life after the life of Jesus. In other words we look –
UP: In worship – knowing that God wants to care for me today
IN: Growing in community – How can we care for one another today? – and
OUT: How does God want me to live out the Gospel today?
We are working on plans for a short devotional daily time, hosted on the Ivy Church Facebook Page, where one of our site leaders will share briefly and we can pray connected. Again, join that page if you’re not already on it and join us from tomorrow. I’ll do the first one at 8am and we will stay connected to one another and the Lord, one day at a time, as we make decisions as a church family week by week.
I’m also in touch with many leaders of churches as we encourage one another. Forward this to yours if any of it helps.
Praying for you with much love,
JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.
ANTHONY DELANEY – SENIOR LEADER IVY CHURCH