COVID-19, Social Distancing, and Deepening Relationships | Virtual Small Groups for ZF
Dear ZF family,
We are living in the midst of a situation none of us could have predicted at the start of this year. During these difficult times, we all need God to speak to our own hearts through his Word. Psalm 46:2 directly speaks about how we should respond in the midst of such difficult circumstances:
We will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling...
Though the coronavirus invisibly spreads all around us, we will not fear...
But why should our hearts not move to fear in the midst of such difficulties? How will we not be overcome with fear?
We will not fear precisely because of v.1 - Because God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This is the reality our hearts need to hear, lest we succumb to the panic of another new trial or disruption. God remains with us in each trial and will see us through each trial. And with that reality in mind, our spiritual pulse can settle down a little bit more.
Fighting the Fearful Present with Presence
In the coming days, we will all wrestle with trusting God. We may struggle at different times and in different ways, but I am certain it will be a struggle. Yet, we still need not fear - even as the full implications of the coronavirus hit home, whether due to economic, health, societal, or other factors.
In the face of these troubles, we must recall that God really is with us as our refuge and strength. We can rest well when confronted with our human limitations and finitude - because so many of these present challenges exist beyond our control. And, despite so much being out of our control, God remains with us. This is actually the way all of life functions normally, but we often have the illusion of being masters of our own fate.
Yet, we need not be passive at this time. Even as government directives and recommendations continue to develop, we can adapt and find creative new ways to express our love for God and love for our neighbor. For example, we can use technology to spend time together in new and unique ways.
Using Technology to Deepen Relationships
Many of you are aware that the CDC recently updated their recommendations to avoid group gatherings with more than 10 people. In light of this development, the elders and I have asked our small groups to make an unprecedented shift. At this time, all ZF small groups will only meet as a group by means of video chat with an app called Zoom. ZF will cover the next two months of fees associated with Zoom for our small group leaders. Everyone else can sign up for free accounts here. Yours truly will serve as your tech support. :)
COVID-19 provides an opportunity for us to stay connected by different and even creative means. Social distancing does not mean solitary confinement... even those who self-isolate due to COVID-19 need relationship. After all, we are created for relationship with God and with each other. So, stay in contact with each other through daily emails, texts, and facetime calls. Consider taking an outdoor walk with another church member. We are confident that you will continue to use common sense and take appropriate precautions as your circumstances require.
To assist you as you shift to meeting with others via technology, I have included several links to different technological tools for connecting with others. I have also included a few essential links for information on COVID-19.
- Zoom — This is an app that allows for video-based group chat - similar to a group version of Facetime or Skype. You can use it on your phone or computer. All small group leaders can get access to a pro account for the next two months in order to help our small groups to digitally connect. Otherwise, anyone else can create a free account and still benefit from fellowship over video. I am happy to assist you if you have any questions or issues with creating an account.
- Google Hangouts — You can video chat with groups of people so long as everyone has a gmail account. This is a free resource.
- GroupMe — A free service for group texting.
- WhatsApp — Another free service for group texting.
- Government updates on COVID-19 - CDC and IN specific.
Though many of us will necessarily remain physically separated due to COVID-19, I am eager to digitally connect with anyone and everyone who wants to chat.
Lastly, if you would like assistance in setting up any of the apps listed above, I am available to help!
Much love my ZF family!