Creativity flourishes as 'contactless ministry' becomes only option
By Rachael Lopez
April 1 2020
More than 200 people tuned in to a webinar in late March which explored how to do ministry beyond doing a Sunday livestream. “Beyond the Stream” was hosted by Ridley College and the panel included the Revd Dr Graham Stanton, Lecturer in Practical Theology at Ridley; the Revd Jess Naylor-Tatterson from St James’ Old Cathedral West Melbourne; and Wayne Chan, Digital Content Producer for Ridley College.
After the global coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of churches, Anglican parishes around the country had merely days to figure out how to “do church”, many opting to livestream services. Panellist Wayne Chan believes that this is not a long-term sustainable solution, and encouraged parishes to explore other ideas.
“I think we as Christians … try to wholesale copy things into new formats,” he said. “How am I going to get my same 1.5 hour service every week and replicate word for word, structure for structure?”
Dr Stanton noted that “the essence of pastoral ministry is engaging people, engaging them with word and prayer”. The good news is that there has been a burst of creativity across parishes, as contactless ministry becomes the only option.
Ms Naylor-Tatterson described some of the creative ideas already forming out of her church as “a weird combination of low-tech high-tech” for the very mixed congregation at St James’.
As Mr Chan reflected on our Christian heritage he said: “It is in our bloodline to want to create new opportunities where we can connect the gospel to people, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the dilemma we’re facing.”
The following Ideas Log was inspired by the Beyond the Stream webinar.
At the beginning of the week, I have been sending out a short video to families, challenging the kids to work on a project for the week. On Sunday morning during our Zoom meeting, the kids listen to the story of the week and then share the projects [that relate to the story] that they have been working on.
The Revd Jess Naylor-Tatterson, Curate, St James Old Cathedral
Last year at Oaktree Anglican I ran a “Bible Lego” challenge where families built a scene from the Bible and brought it to church. Whole families got involved – children, youth and adults. In this season I’m bringing it to my new parish, with creations to be shared by photos on our Facebook page.
The Revd Suzie Ray, Rector, St James Anglican Church, Sanderson, Northern Territory
GWAC is currently releasing a daily video that encourages the Glen Waverley community to pray for an organisation or groups within the local community. The series is called “Living Hope” and encourages Christians to be other-centred and intentional in prayer, while demonstrating our genuine care and love for our local community.
The Revd Bree Mills, Senior Associate Pastor, Glen Waverley Anglican Church
When I first heard that there was a chance that the government might curtail or ban public gatherings, I began thinking about what tools churches might use to help members care for each other in very local areas. Since I couldn't think of one I began to build it: a web app based on Google maps that will allow each person in a church to see the 10 (or whatever) people closest to them, along with their prayer requests and contact details. Initial build is almost finished.
Dr Andrew Moody, parishioner, Holy Trinity Doncaster
This year we are giving each household “Easter in a Box”. Each box will contain a journal, bible readings and resources to help our parishioners celebrate Holy Week in their homes. We will also include a handwritten note and links to online resources to have the perfect blend of digital and physical resources.
The Revd Mark McDonald, Vicar, Christchurch Newport Anglican
We are providing a short morning and evening prayer service for everyone to access. They can either watch live or whatever time it suits them. You can find our YouTube channel via our website.
The Revd Steve Sonneman, Vicar, St Johns West Brunswick
One way we’re providing for our people is by loaning them a green Prayer Book and directing them to The Daily Offices, p.383 onwards. This provides them with a helpful structure to turn to God, commit themselves to Him, hear from His Word, and intercede for others.
The Revd Devan Foster, St Nicholas’ Rockingham, Western Australia
Our staff team are working through the Psalms, using video reflections to try and maintain a level of personal connection with our community, and using the content to create visual posts for Instagram at the same time.
The Revd Liz Webster, Curate, St Hilary’s Network
With people’s schedules unusually clear, we want to use the coming months as an opportunity to grow together in a deeper understanding of the Gospel. We are putting together a series of online seminars to engage newer and more mature Christians, on topics like applying the Gospel to your own heart, learning the Gospel through spiritual disciplines and sharing the Gospel naturally with others.
The Revd Pete Greenwood, Pastor, Inner West Church, Kensington
We’ll be offering families and households a personal Zoom house blessing, using an all-age liturgy with a role for everyone, and special prayers for every room in the house. At a time when many people will be anxious about being cooped up at home, it’s a great way of inviting Jesus into every aspect of our lives, and setting apart our homes as places of prayer, worship, and Christian life.
The Revd Tim Watson, Rector, Holy Cross Hackett, Canberra, ACT
With playgroup not an option now and inspired by bear hunts happening around the world, we set one up at our church by putting bears in twelve of the church windows. We created a checklist with the bear photos, available online, and kids can do this activity with their parents on a walk or on the way home from the supermarket.
The Revd Chris Bowditch, Lead Minister, Lindisfarne Anglican Church, Tasmania
Please check current state and federal laws relating to COVID-19 before proceeding with any new ministry ideas.