Our EQUIP ministry has been going for over a decade now, and John Benson and Roger Morgan are currently working with nearly 60 church leaders and their churches. At the heart of EQUIP are learning communities aimed at providing support and encouragement for ministry leaders, making use of our own experience to help them build the skills they need. During lockdown our termly meetings have been replaced by monthly Zoom seminars which are much shorter and involve fewer people at each one. Our regular personal visits have been replaced with monthly telephone calls. We have also generated a series of spiritual exercises which our members can use for their own devotions or share with members of their churches.
In addition to the usual challenges of ministry, the coronavirus pandemic means that our church leaders now face the need to acquire new skills. Each person is bringing fresh ideas; each church is experimenting in different ways. EQUIP now has its own Workplace page (similar to a Facebook group) which everyone contributes to and learns from. Some of the groups have been joined by lay disciples who have travelled with us on ministry teams for parish missions and prayer weekends; they bring a different perspective and expertise, which is helping us to think creatively in this new situation.
Overflowing with thankfulness
Looking after your mental health
Thinking on our feet
As a group we now have experience of many new ways of doing things. Most of our church leaders have replaced Sunday services with Zoom, Facebook and YouTube transmissions; many have been surprised at the numbers attending. Fellowship during the week comes through small group WhatsApp and Zoom gatherings. Rural clergy have been using their daily walks for open air evangelism, with encouraging results. Others are running Alpha courses on Zoom, sometimes with unexpectedly large numbers. One is inviting people to contribute to a book detailing how God has walked with them through this trying time, another has created a resource to help people maintain their mental health. Thousands of phone calls are being made by ministers and members of ‘care through prayer’ teams. Village churches have taken the lead in providing many kinds of support for their communities. Parcels full of fun things to do are being delivered to children, generating interest in church from new families. Contact is being made with people who have never attended church, some of whom are asking when church will start up again. With the easing of lockdown, open air services are being planned, with the hope that some of those with whom the church has made new relationships will want to come. We trust and pray that we will increasingly see great fruit as a result of these initiatives. The signs are already there!
We are now beginning to use our EQUIP Zoom meetings and phone calls to think ahead. One of our leaders said: ‘In recent times, church in this country has not been a big success. When the virus is behind us, I want to do it differently.’ Now is the time to think out how that will work.
What is EQUIP?
“EQUIP has been going now for over a decade. I had spent 18 years teaching in Cambridge, culminating in my appointment as head of what is now called the Cambridge Business School and giving me many opportunities to advise businesses, large and small. I then spent 25 years in Anglican ministry learning how to lead churches to growth. In EQUIP I was joined by John Benson, whom I had known in Cambridge, back in the UK from Singapore after many years leading a church, supporting other leaders and pioneering mission to unreached peoples. Our aim in EQUIP is to make use of our experiences by serving as mentors to church leaders. It is a great privilege to serve in this way.”
To find out more visit our EQUIP page, or get in touch with us by phone or email. And if you would like copies of our spiritual exercises in uncertain times just us know.