An apostolic perspective from Raffi Shahverdyan – apostolic leader living in Armenia and ministering worldwide.
Let us be equipped for the coming days
Scripture gives us many examples of good administration. Our Lord calls the Church both to pray, equip itself for times of crisis, and to minister to those who are in need.
1 – You have something to do today
“I sought for a man among them to build the wall and stand in the breach in my presence on behalf of the land so that it won’t be destroyed, but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30, ISV).
God relies on you. There is no such thing as a retired leader. That is, if you were ever called to be a leader, then you are called to be a leader now also. Even if you’ve never been a leader before, you can start being one right now. Along the way, you’ll discover aspects of your own personality that you never thought you had.
“When will all of this end?” -This is the question that all of us ask in difficult times, but let’s just change the question and begin to pray like this: “God, what should I do? How can I serve you in this situation? How can I be effective with the gifts that You have given me?
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45, ISV).
Depression conquers some people. It isolates them, and they become passive, but you must not be found amongst them. You must defeat depression and stand strong in the Lord by faith.
Don’t sit still. Keep calm. Don’t slow down, don’t waste your time, but do something for God’s Kingdom and His people. Just one word of encouragement from you can change a person’s life. The Angel of the Lord once said to a very frightened Gideon: “The LORD is with you, you valiant warrior!” (Judges 6:12, ISV).
2 – Communication: the biggest need of the Church in these days
Someone needs you!
The Church is a body, whose parts are intimately connected to each other (see 1 Corinthians 12:12).
The Lord has said:
“Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20, ISV).
Moreover, the Scriptures command us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (see Hebrews 10:25).
While anti-Christian systems like communism and Islam forbid believers to assemble together by closing churches, today’s pandemic is an unseen enemy that is also working to prevent us from assembling ourselves together. To meet the challenge, we ought to start thinking creatively about how we can communicate with one another, whilst still aiming to respect our governments’ health regulations.
To that end, we can communicate using these methods:
A – Managing all the projects of the church through the internet. Download appropriate social networking apps on your devices such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook, Telegram, Signal, etc. Those of us who are tech-savvy need to help those who are new to technology and/or new to using these kinds of apps.
B – Making phone calls (for those who don’t have an internet connection).
C – Communicating through printed literature and written letters.
D – Outside gatherings of small groups (maximum 5 people).
3 – Form and activate cell groups by using the internet
“I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my congregation, and the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18, ISV)
In other words, start a small Church.
Let us not be overwhelmed by this crisis, but let us find ways of communicating and building relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Church. Let’s not wait for “someone else” in the Church to do something. Rather, let us be the ones who take initiative by the Word and Spirit of God – and act on it.
A – Take part in the group in which you are already a member. Don’t stand alone. You can join or form a group of intercessors, a youth group, a missionary group, a group from Sunday school, a home church group, etc.
B – If communication has stopped for a while, don’t wait for someone else to start it back again. Instead, you be the one to get things going again. Send invitations out and start new groups.
C – Make a new group with 5-10 members and have communication with each other via the internet once a week.
D – You can start with a few members and then add new members as you go. Seek out and make contact with those who are isolated and/or don’t have any means of communication.
E – Aim to have a mixture of ages – men and women, boys and girls, from different backgrounds, so as to keep the group both dynamic and persistent. You can start a conversation with some of your friends, and then your group may grow organically from there.
F – The aim of the group can first be to establish communication. Once you have a base of people connected, you will be able to add programs such as praying, preaching, teaching, and group Bible readings.
G – You can request study and ministry themes from the Church’s secretary or create them by yourself as you study various parts of the Bible.
H –For those who don’t have an internet connection, you can give them print outs of different Biblical lessons and themes.
I – You can meet with the members of your group in open areas. For now, this should be done with a limited number of people and with, of course, masks and proper social distancing measures in place.
J – Find and invite those especially to whom reaching out is difficult. Those who have, for whatever reason, been left out of the normal means and methods of communication ought to be a special focus of our efforts. Make new groups and don’t get complacent with existing ones.
K –Talk to your pastor about your activities and be open and ready to receive direction, input, and advice.
L – Our main purpose is to feed and build the Church; to aid and arm God’s children to build His Kingdom and preach His Message. Implementing measures to increase our communication and fellowship by whatever means available will not only help maintain the health of the Church, but it may also serve as an effective method of increasing evangelism and stimulating discipleship.
“…I kept them safe in your name which you have given to me: I took care of them and not one of them has come to destruction…” (John 17:12, BBE).
4 – Common means of communication and their potentials
Zoom – This is currently the most common app for video-calls. It has the capacity to host large numbers of participants. A video-call up to 40 minutes is free. After this expires, however, the connection may be reestablished to begin another 40 minute session.
Skype – You can have up to 50-minutes of video-calling, and it also gives other options not mentioned here.
Messenger – You can make hold a video-call with 8 members. There is an option to have a video-call with 50 members, but it is not available in Armenia yet.
Facebook / Instagram – Here you can share your messages with one another, individually or in groups.
Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram – These means of communication give you the opportunity to send large voice-recordings. You can record and send your messages via these apps. You can communicate individually or create group-chats.
SMS – This is the simplest means of communication, which is available on almost any kind of phone. SMS messaging also allows you to correspond individually or in groups. Depending on the kind of phone that a given user has, you may be able to share voice recordings as well. I would also like to utilize online Bibles and Bible apps, as well as implementing other methods for encouraging the reading and sharing of Bible verses. Examples of some popular apps are YouVersion, Biblestone, and My Bible. Most of these apps allow users to not only access, but download and synchronize information across multiple devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, etc.) so that everyone can read and share God’s Word effectively and conveniently.
God bless you all.
With love, Raffi Shahverdyan.