When COVID-19 hit us the middle of March we all wondered how this would impact the ministry of FAC. We had hundreds of people involved (either as participants or leaders) in more than a dozen onsite opportunities for spiritual growth or care and support … How would we continue to offer healing and hope to individuals – especially people who had already lost so much? Would individuals stay on their journey of discovering who Jesus is? Would moving to an online format really work? How would it be received?
We are created for community. We crave – now more than ever! – to be physically present with people. To share our stories and be drawn into others’ stories. To walk alongside, to be supported, and to support in whatever way we can. God created us to do life together … but how do we do that when there are so many challenges to being physically present with each other?
Amidst all of our wonderings and processing we saw God step in and transform the way we do ministry in the time of COVID. Immediately we experienced His grace as individuals quickly adapted to new formats. The common observation was that moving to online had not negatively impacted attendance or the comfort level of sharing within the groups. In fact we saw just the opposite! We had new leaders step up to lead online ministry. We saw attendance stay or increase as individuals desired to keep connected in some way to others. We experienced a greater depth of sharing as people were in their home ‘comfort zones’ and felt safe to share with others in the group.
Finding Healing and Growth Online
Admittedly, I was one of the skeptics of online ministry and wrestled with moving to an online format. But I was proven wrong – and have never been so happy to be proven wrong! Moving to online platforms has enabled us to continue walking alongside individuals in their journey of faith and their journey of healing, and is even having a far-reaching impact to those around the world.
Celebrate Recovery is one of the ministries under Grow that quickly adapted to our online format. Through these last 6 months we’ve seen men and women continue their journeys of healing as groups meet together on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
On Tuesday evenings we have anywhere from 20-40 people showing up on Zoom to learn more about how they can experience healing through the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that have kept them from being all that God created them to be.
Tuesdays and Thursdays see 20 individuals regularly meeting together to do the hard work of pushing through their pain to find healing on the other side.
There’s a group of women who have been meeting together to work through Life’s Healing Choices. Another group is working through the same material in Spanish, with attendees from Calgary, Florida, and Colombia joining in! Through this Spanish study, new groups have started in Colombia to begin their healing journeys. And all because we can offer ministry to them in distant locations. How cool is that?
We also saw DivorceCare move to an online platform to provide support, encouragement, healing, and community to those sorting through the pain of divorce. Attendees expressed a desire to continue meeting even after the course was finished because they enjoyed the community so much and didn’t want to lose that connection.
Alpha groups quickly moved online to continue sharing Jesus with those searching for answers. As a follow-up to Alpha we launched a study on Philippians with 39 people attending online. This past summer we initiated a Summer Online Alpha with around 40 people leading and attending.
The Financial Freedom courses also moved to an online platform and saw 25 individuals wanting to learn what the Bible has to say about our resources and to seek help from being under the weight of financial burden. Our Financial Freedom team also put together a great resource for people to access called “Bridging the Financial Gap During Tough Times.” This is a fantastic resource and is still available on our website through FAC@Home.
Still Building Lives
I don’t mean to focus on the numbers … but it’s worth noting that though we mused over whether people would really attend offerings online, we are seeing people vote with their feet – or rather, vote with their devices – and become active participants!
While all of life has felt the intense and wavering challenges of COVID-19, there has been a resiliency in people to keep moving forward, to keep leaning in … And we’re seeing God move in and heal people’s lives in such wonderful ways. While there is much content online that can lead us astray and even get us into trouble at times, we have seen God redeem what’s online and use online ministry in a way to bring hope and healing and life to those participating.
I am so thrilled to say that God has been on the move through our online ministry. He has been redeeming online platforms for His glory and His purposes so that His people will experience freedom & life in Jesus.
Life transformation through our devices … All for Jesus! Who would have thought?
Heather Brown champions the Grow ministry team at FAC, where you can find many opportunities to take steps in your personal journey of faith or healing. Here’s a glimpse of what’s coming up:
- Celebrate Recovery is about connecting with others and celebrating God’s healing power through 8 recovery principlesand 12 steps.
- DivorceCare is a safe place where others understand what you’re going through.
- Financial Freedom through understanding and applying God’s principles for everyday life and finances.
- Alpha is a series of community- and question-based sessions exploring the Christian faith.