As we reach the end of the first half of the year, we asked our ministry leaders to share how they’ve seen God at work at Christ Church—particularly during the last three months since we’ve not been able to meet in person. You will see that our staff remains creative and excited about the ways in which new ministry opportunities arise for sharing the Good News. Take a few minutes to read these notes!

In this time of physical distancing, Christ Church’s Children’s Ministry has had to go digital. Parents can now watch their children’s lesson with their children—and use provided resources to help their kids process and review the lesson. This has allowed Children’s Ministry to more fully live into our mission statement: Partnering with parents to be the spiritual guide for their children.

In April when we realized we would not be able to offer our usual VBS experience, the VBS Leadership Board voted unanimously to create and offer an online VBS. The result—FOCUS 2020—allowed parents to lead their children in focusing on God in their daily lives.  

I have seen the Holy Spirit at work surrounding FOCUS 2020 in many ways. Our amazing lead volunteers were willing to serve in much different ways than they originally agreed to—from making videos to adapting activities to making deliveries all around Memphis. Both the Serving & Outreach and the Communications Ministries supported (or in some cases carried) Children’s Ministry through the development of FOCUS 2020. Of course, the Children’s Ministry staff—Danny Shivers, Krista Wilford, Dawn Weaver, Nina McCarver, Laura Spegal and Nicki Cates—went out of their way to bless the families of Christ Church. In the midst of difficult circumstances, I am really grateful for the unity of the Spirit we’ve experienced as we work to bring the Gospel to so many families.

Perhaps where I see the Spirit moving the most in FOCUS 2020 is the outward movement I see happening. While a majority of the kids registered are from Memphis and the surrounding area, because of our digital world we have families in Nashville, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Michigan participating in Christ Church’s VBS! Parents are being empowered to walk their children through the Gospel. The stories I have heard from parents regarding their VBS experiences have been beautiful. Personally, I have treasured the time I have had to talk, think and pray about Jesus with my own kids.  

It is our heartfelt prayer that God is moving mightily within the families of Christ Church during this season. We ask that the Holy Spirit empower moms, dads and grandparents to lead their families well. We pray that He inspires them to talk with their children about Jesus and to help embrace Jesus forever. Christ Church’s Children’s Ministry is committed to walk beside our families through any circumstances.

One of the God stories for Student Ministry is that since March we have been offering Bible studies on Zoom for MS & HS students. Of course, there are awkward moments and weeks where the attendance is not where we hoped it would be. And to be honest, we did not really know how successful offering these studies online would be. But what has been a testament of God’s goodness is that we have seen some meaningful and sweet moments. Students have been vulnerable and willing to share what’s on their hearts and minds. Also, because we moved to online programming, some students who may not have been able to attend Refuge in person have attended the Bible studies and are feeling comfortable to speak up and share their thoughts about Scripture.

Another God story is that during the spring semester, many of our D-Group leaders checked in weekly on their students and/or held their own meetings on Zoom for their students. This was just a testament of how blessed the church is to have an amazing adult leadership team that is dedicated to caring for and loving on their students.

Two things to mention about how we’ve seen God at work the last few months:

We’ve used our Instagram page for short 5-7-minute Social Distance Devos led by Young Adult Wesleyan Fellow William Merriman and me. One of William’s devos got shared by a friend of his, and a person from out of town not associated with the ministry ended up reaching out in a very dark moment. William got to walk with him through that moment. They have started a relationship, and he feels called to ministry. What a super cool connection that came out of those devos!
Our ministry usually has a monthly serving opportunity with Eikon Ministries. Since we have not been able to do that, we were looking for COVID-friendly options. In the three months since COVID-19, Young Adult Ministry has taken part in providing meals for Christ Community Health Services and the workers on the front line of the COVID fight as well as for Room in the Inn, a great ministry serving the homeless population in the city. In these few months, our ministry has raised over $700 and provided 75 meals to support these two ministries! Praise God!

WOMEN’S MINISTRY by Laura Greenwell
Women’s Ministry over the past three months has been very different, as all of our ministries have. We went from monthly luncheons, daily in-person encounters, childcare options—you name it—to virtually nothing. We keep in touch by emailing, letter writing, phone calls and Zoom meetings. We had a Zoom Bible study where I got to meet a woman from the church who I had never met. It was a really sweet time, and after the study ended, the ladies all still wanted to meet. We meet weekly at an outdoor park and socially distance ourselves. Four of the ladies have young girls all about the same age, so they get to see friends too. It has been a beautiful thing.

One lady retired and was very uncertain about it. Another’s husband lost his job, and they may have to move out of state. One of the ladies in the study lost her job. There were a lot of very real issues to pray, love and support each other through. Bonds were created that will last much longer than this pandemic. I look forward to meeting again in person but am so thankful for my ministry and the ability to show love to the women of our church, whatever that may look like.

COMMUNITY GROUPS by Douglas Turner
I have certainly seen God move within groups during this time by the way they have taken care of each other. Many people have been forced to slow down, which has allowed them to pay more attention to the people in their groups. Several people have found their own way of reaching out. Here are a few ways:

  • One member has devoted her time to walking with friends every day. She also has led many groups through Zoom.

  • Several classes have had studies through Zoom in smaller groups.

  • The most significant God moments have been how people have found their own way to worship, not just confined to Sunday morning.

The Coronavirus pandemic brought unique challenges for the Serving & Outreach Ministry. Ministries have cancelled programming, we have been forced to cancel mission trips and events, and the city has moved into isolation. At the same time, needs have skyrocketed as families have faced health concerns with the virus and financial concerns with the state of the economy. As these issues grew, we were prevented from living incarnational lives of social holiness with those who were hurting due to the health concerns of the virus. Yet with those challenges, Christ Church has stepped up in numerous ways to show that we are a church that is for the city of Memphis. 

My favorite God story from this season is the way that the church came together to support both local restaurants in the city and frontline healthcare workers by delivering meals to the clinics of Christ Community Health Services. Over a two-week span, individuals, families, small groups, Bible studies, Sunday school classes and ministries provided 43 clinic meals, which total over 1,500 individual meals, to these clinics. Here’s what this accomplished:

  • Supporting these healthcare workers: Christ Community Health Services was the first to offer Coronavirus testing to underserved communities in Memphis and continues to do so at all of their clinics. At their dedicated testing sites, they see 150-200 people daily, and they have done multiple mass testing events throughout the city. Additionally, they have been invited by the health department to help lead/chair other community health centers in the effort to address this crisis in Memphis. Christ Community Health Services has both modeled and shared the Gospel consistently though this difficult season, and we are so blessed to partner with their organization.
  • Supporting these local restaurants: We talk a lot about faith and work at Christ Church, and that means that we believe that the Christ follower is called to be actively engaged in the economic side of this pandemic as well. We want everyone in our city to live a flourishing life, and having stable work is a large piece in that. When restaurants faced the prospect of closed dining halls, we provided catering orders to support those who own restaurants. In addition, we provided business and support to food entrepreneurs from the Binghampton Development Corporation’s culinary program. All of these restaurants have done an incredible job in pivoting their services during this time, and we are also thankful for the way that they continue to provide food for our tables. 

And so, Christ Church, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your incredible generosity in providing support to Christ Community Health Services and restaurants across our city. You provided a clear picture of Paul’s commendation to the church in Philippi found in 2 Corinthians 8:2-4, as he stated how they, “in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. Your gifts truly have mattered during this season!

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