Notes from an excellent FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Word and Sacrament in Lockdown with John Stevens, Julian Hardyman and Matt Lillycrap.
1. We are a pilgrim people making a journey through the wilderness from our redemption to our entrance to eternal life in the new creation. It is an arduous journey in a hostile environment. Do we have the resources to make it through the wilderness? Yes, our God has provided for us.
2. God meets our needs in the person of the Lord Jesus Himself, the bread of life. He is all we need to get to our destination. We need to feast on His propitiatory sacrifice. To share in and benefit from His sacrifice on behalf of His people. True saving faith will always be continuously exercised.
3. Word and Sacrament, Preaching and Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the means through which God’s people feed on Christ and His sacrifice. Hearing the spoken gospel word and seeing the visible gospel word help our congregation feed on Christ.
4. Our responsibility is to distribute to the people what God has provided for them. Our work of preaching and administering the sacraments or ordinances is the way we feed God’s people with what He has provided so they can make it to the Promised Land.
5. We are experiencing a kind of out of season preaching (2 Timothy 4:2) where it is hard for preacher and hearer. The task remains the same. Our people continue to need correcting, rebuking, strengthening, comforting, encouraging by the Word. Be prepared to preach the word out of season.
6. Online preaching is not the same as preaching in real life. Online preaching is clearly going to be important in the interim and it is for us.
7. People are experiencing our preaching mediated in a different way. “Embrace the medium.”
8. When preaching online, think about where you look. Look at the lens (not the screen). Let the lens look at you (between eye and mouth level is a must). Look away from the lens (otherwise you will come across as too intense).
9. Sound is important.
10. Speak to people. We are talking to people, not just a machine. Remember they are in a different situation to normal as well. They are in their front room not as part of a crowd.
11. Watch the comparison game. We preach for an audience of one. We preach for God’s glory above all else.
12. Consider preaching shorter sermons. Consider preaching shorter texts. Make sure you apply.
13. Preaching isn’t the same, but the people are. They know you. They love you. They know that you love them. The pastoral relationship is still their even if you struggle with the tech. You will be feeding them. You will be preaching the word to them out of season.
14. When it comes to administering the sacraments in a lengthy lockdown, there will be a diversity of views within FIEC, and maybe within our church leadership and our congregations.
15. It is worth considering our current practice. What do you do? Why do you do it? Who has authority to administer them? How important is it that they are done as a church together as a whole?
16. What are your biblical convictions? There is a difference between convictions that are absolute (sinful to do or not do); ideal (in changed circumstances is something else permissible); pragmatic (what could we change if circumstances change); and tradition (things we’ve got used to).
17. Baptism is essentially individual, but we treat it as corporate. Lord’s Supper is essentially corporate, but we treat it as individual.
18. On this issue of whether to administer the sacraments online, we may feel more personally constrained than the freedom the gospel allows.
19. It is vital we consider our congregation. Will what we do edify and unify? What will be lost by not celebrating the sacraments or by celebrating them online? What will be gained by doing this in a different way?
20. Do not condemn those who take a different view to you in good conscience. Do not look down on those who don’t think they are free in the gospel to act in this way. Do not destroy others for the sake of your freedoms. Do not make a decision on the basis of human approval or disapproval.
21. Here is an opportunity to reconsider and reaffirm your ecclesiology. Especially the place and importance of the physical gathering.
22. If you decide to administer the Lord’s Supper virtually, use a platform that maximises opportunity to be present and by which you get a sense of the corporate body. In this, Zoom is more communal than YouTube.