An uphill moment
A new season of church life is gradually coming together as we emerge from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. For a whole variety of reasons, it may feel that while the prospects for what we can do are so much brighter, the climb back to a more regular rhythm and regularity of activity can feel uphill all the way. In such moments, anything that can give us a leg up can be such a help.
Right thing at the right time
As leaders only gradually get to grips with a return to activity in organisational life, finding a simple resource that can take the strain of ensuring quality content that proves a good fit for the moment can lift a significant burden.
While there is a vast array of providers of Christian resources from which to choose, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has a growing reputation for producing its own home grown material. Its advantage is often that it has been birthed by Irish Presbyterians, for Irish Presbyterians, and so arises out of the landscape of our particular challenges and opportunities in ministry and mission and fits back into the way we do church more readily than resources from elsewhere. Familiar language and local voices echo more immediately than different ways of describing things and accents from abroad that need the additional work of translation.
So, here are some new and recently produced PCI resources that could prove to be the right thing at the right time as your congregational activities get up and running again:
We often talk about the importance of spiritual formation, the shaping of our Christian thinking and lifestyle, through some basic regular habits like worship, Bible reading, service and prayer. The effect of the pandemic in the breaking of these routines for many has been a spiritual deformation. We all need to recapture the value and practice of the basic patterns of Christian living. Proximity: Habits of a lifetime is a booklet that could be used one-to-one or for small group discussion on this theme.
Facing the challenges and taking the opportunities of living an everyday faith as normal life and regular interaction with others opens up are again before us. One of the ways to encourage one another in this is through talking about how doing so is described in Scripture and what it looks and feels like in real life setting today. Expressions is an eight session resource based around video teaching and story from members of PCI that would fit snuggly in small group, midweek or Sunday evening setting.
Reconnecting with young people and getting them re-engaged with church and back together again with their peer group is one of the most acute challenges of the moment. In addition though, it is important that when gathered they have significant content in youth ministry. Bite-size is a flexible discipleship tool which helps young people aged 11-18 learn God’s Word in a way that connects to their lives. Each session starts with the topic in an accessible way, teaches a simple biblical truth, illustrates that through the life of another Christian and helps young people to apply it to real life. A new, set of five sessions on the church is available free for download now.
Re-engaging with families and younger children is also on the radar of many congregations. This may take a few attempts, so as well as re-establishing weekly programmes, it can be helpful to provide a few one-off opportunities to get back over the door. Living Stones - building God's church back up again is a free pre-recorded video resource providing the opportunity to host a gathering for children and families without the stress of having to plan all the content. The resource is based on the story of Nehemiah and will help the children to see how they can play a part in God’s plan of building his church.
As ministry among women gets up and running again, it is good not only to be back together but to have the opportunity to go deeper together in our life with God. The latest Inspirations material produced by Presbyterian Women takes up that theme and provides a range of devotional resources and programme ideas that could be used in PW groups, but also by those who bring women together in other formats throughout the year.
Another area of disconnect experienced during the pandemic was with those in later years in our congregations. Now we can get them together again and there is greater confidence in being out among others, it is an important moment to engage an older generation in significant conversation about faith in God. All the days of my life: Knowing the Lord as our shepherd is a well-produced booklet that offers a simple framework for six conversations one-to-one or in a small group setting. It has a very gentle, pastoral feel based around the familiar content of the twenty-third Psalm and could be a helpful in evangelistic or discipleship ministry with those in this age and stage of life.
Missing that leg up
Hopefully there is something in what is described above that jumps out as just what you were after. However, imagine if that sort of leg up was available and you didn’t know and so were unable to take advantage of it. Too often that is the case and because of breakdown in communication, or the busyness of church life, we aren’t aware that the kind of resources described above are available for use in our congregation or organisation.
To make sure that you are kept up-to-date about all sorts of future resources and upcoming events provided by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for your congregation, its leaders and members, why not sign up to receive the E-quip ezine.