A substantial number of our BUV LOTE Churches consist of mostly refugees. Bear in mind that relationship and community are the main factors that glue these churches together; add to that the very limited resources and technical knowledge of how to live stream services, and you have a challenge on your hands However, despite these difficulties, there have been some very positive results and even some churches who are thriving.
One issue that many of the LOTE churches have faced for is generational tension – where the perception is that the first generation is still in full control of the church with the second generation sidelined. Recently while talking to a Pastor from one our churches from the Chin community, this situation has changed. The knowledge and technical abilities of the second generation have made them very useful for the church. In order to transition the church service to an online service, the first generation (basically, the whole leadership of the church) has handed over the organisation to the second generation. This has been successful and the leadership are very happy with the way the second generation is leading the online service.
A similar development in the relationship between leadership and the next generation is happening in other churches. One Senior Pastor, traditionally considered to be one who would not be able to learn any new tricks, is delivering his weekly sermon through videoconferencing. A younger member of the church successfully trained their Pastor to use technology to deliver his sermons online from his home. I am sure this church’s leaders are appreciating input from the younger generation.
We heard from another church that is relatively small in terms of numbers, that has seen more than a five-fold increase in the number of people joining their online service – not only here in Australia but worldwide! Relatives and friends in Myanmar heard about this church having an online service and due to restrictions in Myanmar also causing quite an impact on churches, many are joining their services online. Since the language is not a problem, it has attracted a significant audience from overseas.
How about the financial situation in some of these churches? Online giving is on the increase but there is still a substantial number of attendees who cannot do this. Just prior to being unable to meet on church premises, one Pastor thought about the best way to collect the offering. He decided to make a container / box for each household, with a slot at the top. During the online service, there is an offering time when the attendees are invited to place their offering in the box, which will be collected once the restrictions are lifted.
Some churches have seen their offering more than doubled. In one particular case, church attendees were encouraged to give through online bank transfer and if they needed assistance the church leaders were able to provide help So, many members of the church are now set up and are regularly giving online and … to the church’s surprise, the attendees are being more generous online.
Another church is encouraging their members to join their online Sunday Service an hour before it starts so that they can have a chat with each other. The online meeting is left open for another hour after the service so they can continue their connection with each other.
So, while it has been very difficult for LOTE churches to adapt to the current situation, it’s been good to hear the success stories. Many are doing just fine and some, even thriving. They are being very creative and are getting more and more familiar with using a variety of technical tools while at the same time breaking down age old generational barriers.
Rev Marc Chan
BUV Multicultural Consultant