Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Women’s Ministry in Lockdown and Beyond with Rachel Sloan, Elinor Magowan, Gabby Samuel, and John Stevens.
1. How do we keep persevering? We persevere to final victory by looking forwards and by looking back. We need to remind ourselves that Christ has won the final victory and is praying for us. We need to remember to cry out to God for help; to come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to intercede on our behalf. But it is also important to remember how God has helped us ‘thus far’; the way He has sustained our ministry.
2. Do you get together as a church to remember how God has helped you?
3. Update on Places of Worship with regards to the law on gatherings.
– Indoor gatherings: Tier 1 – max 6 people in a group; Tier 2 and 3 – household groups only.
– Outdoor gatherings: Tier 1 and 2 – max 6 people in a group; Tier 3 – household groups only.
– Social distancing is required – 2m (or 1m with mitigations).
– These rules about gatherings are not guidance but law. It is against the law to mix (swap groups) and mingle (interact between groups).
– Various levels of fines in relation to mixing and mingling.
– If you travel to a lower tier you still have to keep the law on gathering that applies where you live.
– Avoid travel to or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment or caring for individuals.
4. Update on Places of Worship with regards to the guidance on singing
– Singing indoors: Congregations should not participate in any activity that can create aerosols including singing, shouting and chanting. Choirs can perform indoors but must comply with law on gathering in groups appropriate to the relevant tier (Rule of 6 in tier 1, household groups in tier 2&3 and should observe social distancing (2m). Ensure gap at least 2m between performers and first row of worshippers.
– Singing Outdoors: Choir can perform outdoors but must comply with law on gathering in groups appropriate to relevant tier and should observe social distancing 2m. Congregation can sing but should preferably be seated and 2m social distancing maintained at all times. Leaders must undertake risk assessment that considers security and should manage arrival and departure so social distancing can be maintained.
– For public open space events liaise with person responsible for the space, and if a large event, speak to the local authority.
– Position on singing is guidance not law. But gathering organiser has to carry out risk assessment, to take all reasonable measures to limit risk of transmission including taking into account the guidances given by government. This will mean that it is difficult to set aside guidance and choose to sing.
5. Implications of law and guidance on gatherings for Churches.
– They can open for public worship.
– They can use their buildings for study groups/prayer groups provided people remain in appropriate groups for Tier and no interactions between groups (i.e. no discussion and prayer across groups).
– Support groups up to 15; Weddings up to 15; and Funerals up to 30.
– You can organise parent and child groups up to 15 (with children under 5 not included in the limit)
– Venue managers should ensure social distancing maintained.
6. Implications of guidance on singing for Church Leaders.
– You will likely commit an offence if you organise a gathering which ignores guidance (e.g. on singing or social distancing). You can’t just ignore the guidance on singing and social distancing.
– There may be issues of insurance cover if you fail to meet your duties under the Health and Safety legislation.
– For more information see FIEC winter risk assessment review.
7. What opportunities does the law and guidance on singing allow?
– Carol services with choir – ‘carol concert’ events.
– Outdoor carol services (following law/guidance).
– Door to door carol singing in group of 6 maintaining social distancing.
– Street and community carol singing.
– Hybrid service – some congregational singing outside and part service inside.
– Remember many people still won’t come to church and advised not to come to church. It is worth have good quality online services for people who would not/cannot attend physically.
8. Women’s ministry during lockdown looks like what it always has done. Discipleship, pastoral care and evangelism is at the heart of women’s ministry whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. These three strands of women’s ministry must have God’s word at the heart of them.
9. God’s Word must be at the centre of women’s ministry because it is God speaking and because it is powerful. God will accomplish what He purposes through His Word. God’s Word can call people to life in Christ and train them comprehensively to live like Christ.
10. Discipling women means lovingly nurturing them to love Jesus, follow Jesus, and become more like Jesus. This happens in the context of the local church through sound Bible teaching through relationships with other Christians. There are lots of contexts where this can take place from informal sharing, intergenerational 121s, small group Bible studies.
11. Pastoral care is needed because women face difficult circumstances – stress and strain, reeling from past traumas, fears for the future. Women in our churches need to be equipped to practical care for those who are hurting and broken so that they can walk alongside others and point them to Jesus.
12. Evangelism is urgent because there is a great spiritual crisis facing the majority of our population and the gospel is the only solution. Some women maybe particularly gifted evangelists, but all need to be encouraged to live in such a way that others will ask the reason for their hope and be equipped to share the gospel with those who ask.
13. Whatever the circumstances, the essential components and vision for women’s ministry remains the same. During times like these we might have to change the vehicles we use to do our ministry and think more creatively to achieve this God given focus.
14. Women’s ministry needs to be integrated into the whole life of the church; intergenerational (Titus 2); inclusive and accessible by serving the needs of women in different circumstances and stages of life; and individual making such personal attention is paid not just to those with more complex pastoral needs.
15. There is a need to encourage tired women – those who are tired physically, spiritually, or tired because of the restrictions. There is a need to invest in training women – both in Bible teaching and care giving roles.
16. Three encouragements for those involved in women’s ministry: i) Hold onto the gospel you so regularly hold out to others – God’s pleasure towards you is not based on your output or how many plates you keep spinning, but it grounded in the finished work of Christ; ii) Guard you relationship with your heavenly Father – don’t skim on your devotional time; iii) Tell the truth – be honest with your church leaders about your capacity and don’t let your pride or fear of looking incompetent stop you from speaking to your brothers.