With so many changes happening in our world, it's time for an update about our Church family. I count it a huge privilege to be your Pastor and both Cazz and I love you all so much. We have been covering you in prayer throughout this season more than ever! We know that it has been hard and we have all had to face new challenges, but not for one moment is our God surprised or shocked by any of this and He knows the way.
So, the first thing I want to update you on is a new way to give to our Church family. A big part of our Church culture is generosity and giving with a Kingdom purpose. You have been so faithful in this season with your tithes and offerings and we are deeply grateful that we have been able to pay all of the bills that the Church has, cover the wages of our staff and we have never been lacking. Praise God! As we aim to provide an easy and safe way to give to God and towards the Kingdom assignment over our Church, we have partnered with Tithe.ly, a Christian organisation who are committed to empower the Church around the world with resources and online software. You are still able to give directly into the Church account, but should you want to transition to Tithe.ly you can get started by following the instructions below:
1. Tithe.ly Giving App:
Download the Tithe.ly App from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android). Once you've downloaded the app, search for "The Living Room Church, Melton" (Torquay is connected with Melton automatically) and follow the steps below.
Since this is your first time giving with Tithe.ly you will be prompted to create an account that you can use for all future giving opportunities. You can also give without a Tithe.ly account by searching for "The Living Room Church, Melton" and follow the prompts.
The first time you will also need to add your credit/debit card. Be assured that Tithe.ly uses the most up to date security features as it protects your online card details.
Once your account has been created you won’t need to enter your personal or payment information. Just enter your PIN and give!
A reminder you have the ability to set your gift up as recurring.
You can also tick the option that covers a small transaction fee, but if you’re unable to, then do not be worried, we will cover those costs.
Thank you for your generosity and continued support of our great Church family, we thank God for you. It is so comforting to know that we have a Church family that is faithful in this important aspect of our worship to God. Every act of faith-filled giving matters.
The next important update that I want to give you is regarding our Church gatherings. Some of you have been asking about when we will be gathering as a church again. I know we all miss the times of gathering together and worshipping God. I miss the united worship and the interaction that we enjoy as I share my heart with you as we open up The Word together. You'd be surprised how much changes in the moment as we bounce off one another and flow in the atmosphere of what God is doing. Yes, there will be more times like this in the future and I look forward to seeing how God will refresh it and renew our passion for Him and His Church
But what has become obvious is that God is doing something new in this season and we are the ones that need to adjust. We are embracing this as God's "new thing" that He spoke over us way-back in January 2020 (Read it again...Isaiah 43:18-19). Wow...that was actually pre-COVID. While I know that God did NOT bring this pandemic upon us and force us into the lockdowns and restrictions, He is using it in a way that we are still discovering and learning. He always wins no matter what comes and so do we. The Church that Jesus is building is full of Overcomers and yes, that includes you!
But here is where it get's tricky...With the ongoing "roadmap to freedom" that the Victorian government has put into place, we can now meet together, but yet only if we are divided into two categories - the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. If we subscribed to that, then Cazz and others in my family would have to worship separately, as some of us are vaccinated and some are not. There are churches who are holding two separate church services to accomodate these mandates and some are meeting with each group in two separate locations. I heard of one church putting on 20 separate services throughout the week so that no one misses out. While it is not my intention to judge or criticise how they decide to manage this and I pray for God's wisdom for every Church leader in the difficult decisions that we all have to make, to be honest, I have a big problem with the division that this is creating and we will not give room for that to happen in our Church family.
So this means that with the current restrictions of only a certain number of vaccinated and even less unvaccinated allowed to gather, we will be keeping our weekly gatherings online and for the time being we will not be meeting at either our Melton or Torquay locations. I cannot have peace in my heart if we were to create a two-tiered system and partner with division, no matter how badly people want to gather. This is greater than just a virus or governmental mandates, this cuts to the heart of how the Church is to function as a family. I'm sure you would agree that unity is often costly but the cost is well worth it because our Father God promises a blessing and is very pleased when we choose unity and humility in a climate of division (see Psalm 133).
How then can we gather together? I was thrilled to read a post that Jenny Cook posted on our TLR Family Facebook page recently as it expresses our hearts so wonderfully for what we want to see happen across all of our regions and homes. I have included portions of it below for you to read:
On Sunday 7th Nov and 5th Dec, you are invited to our home...for a morning of fellowship, as we watch the Online service via our own devices, partake in the prayer meeting afterwards and breakfast, lunch, cuppas as you like. The numbers inside and out will depend on the restrictions at the time. At this stage I believe it’s 10 inside and 20 out (if raining our garage is available)...The plan for the days will be (come to what you wish, leave when you wish):
9am - BYO main breakfast ingredients and breakfast together; 9:30 - Grab a cuppa together before the service; 10am - Watch Online service via your own device ( if anyone has a device to boost the sound of the singing, please bring it); 11am - Grab another cuppa and retire to dining room if you want a bit of quiet for partaking of the prayer meeting. Or even our bedroom, if you want to be alone for it. 11:30 - Online Zoom Living Room Chat meeting via your own device. 12:30 - Simple BBQ meal together. Please bring your own meat.
How good is that! I love the initiative and openness to share their home with anyone that wants to connect face-to-face. Imagine this happening across our entire Church family, in every suburb and even outdoors in local parks.
What this shows me is that we as God's people are only as restricted as we choose to be. The old ways of depending upon a Sunday event at a Church building to get your Church fix is now greatly restricted and perhaps even stripped away for a longer period of time. But, the days of doing it alone, have also changed. As things open up and we are able to have more people in our homes, this will be a major part of us moving forward and keeping our relationships active because by the looks of things we will still be restricted from our Church buildings for many more months, even going into 2022. Again, because we do not want to create a divided system of church attendance, we are embracing this new thing that God is doing and we will be better for it, I promise you!
Also, we will be organising some outdoor church BBQ's and meet-ups in the park in both Melton and Torquay in the coming weeks, just so we can see each other's faces again in real life. Cazz will be sending you updates when and where these will be happening.
Finally, my dear Church family, I know it's not ideal and many of you want to go back to how things were, but do not miss what God IS doing because it is beautiful. We are all faced with ongoing challenges, but never doubt that you are loved and never forgotten. If you haven't connected with us online lately please do, we'd love to see you again. As further updates come to hand we will be sure to inform you, but until then, stay strong in the Lord and enjoy His presence in your secret place of the heart. Jesus loves you and so do we!