This framework offers a realistic way for churches to come together at deanery level to offer virtual church to any.
It’s designed to:
- Enable all churches to share in a virtual offer
- Enable churches to collaborate online
- Be evangelistic, enabling new people to come to Christ
- Develop the Christian life of all, especially those who are housebound
- Be a platform for initiative, not a straitjacket – please use it accordingly!
It does not diminish the ongoing need for pastoral care for and contribution received from those who are unable to attend physical services.’
All participating churches in the deanery promote the availability of the following:
- Virtual morning prayer
- Virtual Sunday worship
- Virtual discipleship opportunities
- How to explore a vocation online
so that people can find it easily and opt into that as they wish.
2. Daily Prayer
There’s daily prayer in the deanery which takes place virtually. It’s regularly and consistently publicised. It might be that every church takes its turn to stream, or that some churches offer that as their regular ministry. There should be some way of identifying numbers ‘attending’ and there should be some way for participants to make prayer requests and to comment. This is an opportunity for people who are housebound to participate and lead in prayer, developing their own ministry and vocation.
3. Sunday Worship
There’s weekly Sunday worship in the deanery which takes place online/virtually. It’s regularly and consistently publicised. All the deanery’s churches publicise the same online worship (unless they have their own online worship). If it’s not from a deanery church then it is hosted in a deanery framework, e.g. on a site where deanery fellowship, discussion, prayer and notices are enabled, so that a local Christian community can grow online.
There’s a way for people to deepen their faith and develop their discipleship together on at least a weekly basis that’s online, and in the deanery. This could be a bible study, virtual home group, online course etc. It could also be an online course or programme of learning that the deanery decides to use from elsewhere, but it should be held and overseen by the deanery.
There’s a way for people to explore and reflect on their vocation, and develop their own Christian calling that takes place online, in the deanery. This could be in a dedicated group, in informal conversation, or by request to a minister in the deanery, or something else. Whichever it is, it recognises that Christians who are housebound (as well as those who are not) may be called to a ministry from their homes; and it takes seriously the church’s responsibility to encourage the vocation of all God’s people.
There’s a way for newcomers to see that the church is at work in the places of this deanery, and to join a local Christian community online. They can receive the good news regularly, perhaps by attending online worship, and there is an easy way for them to find out how to go deeper in due course. The online community assists them in joining a physical church if they’d like to.
The churches and fresh expressions of the deanery (perhaps along with its chaplaincies and schools) share oversight for its online offer via its chapter and synod. If it does that at chapter/synod meetings, it does so in a way that includes the voices of those who can’t attend in person, including the housebound, and those who are new to faith, in order to test what is effective online ministry in the deanery.