As Onsite Gatherings Suspended, Church Workers Serve Online in Diverse Ways

Pastor Zhang Yanqin gave an online sermon in Beijing Fengtai Church on Jan. 26, 2020.
Pastor Zhang Yanqin gave an online sermon in Beijing Fengtai Church on Jan. 26, 2020. (photo: Beijing Fengtai Church )
By CCD contributor: Wu ZhongyiFebruary 25th, 2020

Dear sisters and brothers, this is a special period for the nationwide fight against the new corona pneumonia. Churches everywhere have suspended gatherings. However, we can gather online and our staff are still working.

Here, we are going to put a spotlight on what some pastors and other church staff are doing during this period.

1. A senior pastor preaches in an empty church.

On every Sunday, the senior pastor smiled at the front gate of the church and welcomed every Christian who came for gathering. Now, in the empty church, the pastor in garment solemnly prays and preaches.
It is not a one-man gathering. Hundreds of Christians are listening to his preaching online.

2. A terminally ill church staff member transcribes the Bible.

A church staff member with a terminal disease transcribed the Bible at home. She is a member of a church band. "It is not well written.", she said shyly, "I read and transcribed the Bible every day. That made me so fulfilled. I'm not afraid of death, for I have once been 'dead' when I had an operation, and I know where I will finally go. Heaven is our last destination. Thank God for His grace. Now I am very happy, cherish every day the Lord gives me, and live in the love of the Lord.

3. A senior sister reads the Bible and transcribes Bible verses into bookmarks.

She is a senior Christian in her seventies who has suffered various diseases and had multiple operations. She felt very lonely and helpless when she could not gather with her sisters and brothers in church as usual. Instead, she now keeps to gatherings, listening to preaching, getting in touch with other Christians online, and reading and transcribing the Bible at home. She also submits poetic manuscripts to Christian network media on several occasions. She is gifted in calligraphy. Her art works were demonstrated in a church which sends her DIY bookmarks with her calligraphy works on them as gifts to others. When gathering was suspended, she made 200 bookmarks with verses she transcribed from the Bible and sent them to church staff.

4. A family of three handwrite the Bible at home.

A preacher, at home with his wife and daughter, reads and transcribes the Bible at the table after they praise God and pray. People usually get bored if they stay at home for too long. However, people with faith won't.

There is also another family of three, of which both parents are pastors and the daughter is on vacation from school. The parents preach online. At home, the daughter hosts their gathering. They worship, praise, read Bible, and pray together. The parents interpret the Bible in turns...Such a harmonious family altar is the epitome of countless Christian families in China.

5. Busy webmasters of churches

Shepherding on line is a new way of spreading the gospel given by God under these special circumstances. Webmasters, most of whom are volunteers and part-time workers, are so busy trying to meet the need to spreading gospel. In order to ensure that the online preaching is foolproof and free from leaks, they must make preparations for testing, debugging, and trial operation of the software and hardware of the network and equipment in advance. When the shepherd appears on Christians' computer screens, behind the scenes are the toil and sweat of these webmasters.

6. Publicity staff

Most of the publicity staff in churches are young people, who are capable of graphic design and using office software suites. It is necessary to organize and edit the preacher's sermons for online preaching, transform the voice into text, and compile and edit the contents of each column to ensure that the pictures and texts are both excellent. If the churches have WeChat public accounts, they must collect, edit, and send content through the network every day. They also need to transmit Bible verses and epidemic prevention knowledge through office software, edit the church's text and pictures, and create electronic documents with pictures and texts to meet Christians' needs. However, these hardworking people are not visible to the congregation.

7. Church guards

For the safety of churches, churches arrange daily rotation of pastors and other staff to guard and maintain the church. Their work usually starts after prayers, and includes answering the phone, receiving visitors, cleaning, inspecting everywhere without leaving dead ends, paying attention to fire prevention, anti-theft and preventing unauthorized entry. In some small churches without heating in the cold northern part of China, the guards also prevent pipes from freezing. Some enthusiastic ones come to guard the church even when it is not yet their turn. These church watchers live simple lives, dedicate themselves and consider churches as their homes.

8. Pastors busy with writing

Some pastors, especially the young ones, took suspension of gathering as a chance for spiritual retreat given by God. They read the Bible and live their spiritual lives at home. Some of them read books according their reading plans. Many of them write sermons using office software on mobile phones and computers. Some write about their views as church shepherds vis-à-vis the suspension of gatherings. Some interpret the Holy Scriptures and preach through the Bible. Some encourage Christians to use the teachings of God to treat the epidemic the right way. A pastor who could not return to his church wrote five or six articles a day and published them online. A senior pastor insisted on publishing short and concise sermons and daily Bible readings, which is now very popular.

9. Practical evaluation of online preaching

Will online preaching without face-to-face communication become a mere formality and produce no effect? To dispel such concerns, some churches set up complete evaluations for online gathering. For example, mid-level staff and above are required to attend the online gathering on time and sign in if there are no special circumstances; upload notes of preaching, Bible reading progress and Bible transcriptions onto the internet. Some churches made some Bible Q&A for Christians to find and answer the questions themselves.

10. Staff spread the gospel online.

Some enthusiastic Christians spread Bible verses, preaching of pastors, hymns, good spiritual articles, gospel videos and news of Christians' dedication to anti-epidemic efforts online. Some upload their activities of Bible reading and singing of hymns, what they learned from their spiritual experience, in forms of audio and video. Some of them start doing these at five in the morning every day.

11. A pastor works far from home.

A young pastor in a century-old church went to Hainan for the Spring Festival from the Northeast. At the beginning of the "anti-epidemic", he was stranded in the southern tip of China and could not return. In his daily life in faith, he re-edited and reorganized five sermon articles with a combined count of more than 20,000 words, using an old mobile phone that often shuts down automatically, a snail-speed laptop that often fails, and a small 64K (14.5cm x 9.9cm) e-Bible. These articles were published on mainstream Christian online media. The pastor laughed at these outdated equipment that made him work so slowly. Anyway, he continued to maintain contact and attention with the church in the Northeast through the Internet.

The Internet has increasingly become a new tool and channel for Christians to preach the gospel.

-Translated by Lin Changfeng 

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