Listen: Hope Afternoon's Ben McEachen chats with Greater West for Christ director Mark Chapple about lockdown, community assistance and words of encouragement
How did our churches help local communities during lockdown and what lessons did they learn from the experience? Hope Afternoons interviewed church leaders across Greater Sydney to find out how God’s people were loving their neighbours, sharing what they had to say each Sunday and Wednesday throughout October.
Mark Chapple is director of Greater West for Christ church network.
Mark, what have Greater West for Christ churches learned during lockdown this year?
“What has been learned by the churches I am heavily involved with is their passion for engaging in digital communication. That’s been pretty excited.
“The biggest thing I’ve been excited about is I’ve noticed regional networks of prayer being birthed all over the place. Like, really significant; I’m seeing the church pray likes it’s never prayed before.
“I’m seeing the church pray likes it’s never prayed before,” – Mark Chapple, director of Greater West for Christ
“I’ve been hearing stories of churches actually growing. Churches are engaging with people who don’t normally engage with church. The most exciting thing is what started with congregations online… and adapting that way, has moved toward engaging with people in authentic community in a digital way. ‘Zoom church’ has just gone crazy.
“It’s been really, really creative. When COVID hit, our young leaders were really up to speed on digital technology, so they moved quickly and tried different things. They embraced the local expression, digitally, of their churches.”
How has Greater West for Christ helped its community during the pandemic?
“One of the things we are pretty pumped about is in our region, we have 19 chaplains serving 21 schools. What we do is have local chaplains connected through local churches, serving local schools.
“What that has meant is local people – who didn’t have to travel out of their LGA – were right around the corner from the school, serving as chaplains.
“We saw hampers delivered and all sorts of stuff happen [like] chaplains in Google Classrooms.
“We actually have a number of chaplains who are ministers in local churches, so they have taken a bi-vocational role.
“I heard a story of somebody who basically got permission to be an Essential Worker, to drive a mum to her cancer treatment in hospital. You know, thing like that [happened]… It’s just been mind-blowing to see our chaplains at work.”
Mark, can you offer us a word of encouragement?
“I must admit that I get excited by all the opportunities that these news days bring.
“Jesus said, really clearly, that in this world you will have troubles but take heart – I have overcome the world.
“Jesus said, really clearly, that in this world you will have troubles but take heart – I have overcome the world,” – Mark Chapple, director of Greater West for Christ
“And I take him pretty seriously about that. We are passionate about Jesus – Greater West for Christ; our name is our purpose – and the fact is we have a saviour who has overcome the world. Who died and rose again. Who said to just press into him. He said you can ask anything in my name and it will be given.
Please, pray with Mark.
We believe in you.
We believe that you promised us that you have overcome the world.
We acknowledge that in this world we will have troubles,
But we ask in your name, Jesus, because of your heart, Jesus,
That we would find strength to be overcomers with you.
We know we can’t do it ourselves but we know that you promised that you will.
Carry us through this season, Jesus, and keep us united and hidden in you.
In Jesus’ name,
Feature image: GWFC Facebook
Also in the ‘Greater Sydney Church Leaders Series’
- How the Salvation Army Church is Helping Their Community
- How C3 Sydney is Helping Their Community
- How the Baptist Church is Helping Their Community
- How the Coptic Orthodox Church is Helping Their Community
- How the Uniting Church is Helping Their Community
- How Australian Christian Churches is Helping Their Community
- How the Anglican Church is Helping Their Community