The Life of our Church in 2020
Unlike what some had hoped, the virus, COVID-19 has not diminished. In fact, it’s on the rise in more places than not. As Victoria is in lock-down, and NSW COVID cases increase—churches face decisions about the future, regathering for services and further ministry.
We find ourselves asking more and more "How do we move forward?" , “When will church start?”, “How will we do church when we return sometime in the near future?” I'm concerned about life after the pandemic. Many say they are concerned that after the pandemic the church will never be the same again.
This statement resonates with me. I’m looking forward to new ideas, input, and more people wanting to get involved in the life of the church. What concerns me is the idea of jumping right back into the status quo.
History doesn't always repeat itself, but it tends to rhyme. We must not go back to normal. Instead, we must make the best of what we are seeing now and continue those things. Let me share three things that I hope we will keep, moving forward.
First, that God’s people would be deployed.
God's people are deployed at a higher level, a more faithful level, and a more fruitful level than before this pandemic began. I've seen people caring for one another at higher levels. I've seen people making phone lists and calling one another, praying for one another, and then serving the poor and the marginalised. I’m also seeing people on the margins of Christianity stepping up and helping those in need.
Recently, I posted on Facebook a call for help for a lady in desperate need. She was in need of a washing machine, microwave oven, tables and chairs, and other items. Her house had been robbed by her ex, she was penniless and struggling. I stated in my post that I didn’t want comments or judgement on her life, but help. I was astonished at the swift response. Most of the respondents were unchurched. I couldn’t believe it. I loved it. They were so happy to serve.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we didn't go back to consumer-driven Christianity where people line up like customers outside of Costco?
Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't come in like consumers of religious goods and services but instead continued to see ourselves as the co-labourers in the gospel?
Some of those who’ve stepped up more than likely meet the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3. You might think about how to raise them up as leaders. I think of our young men and women who have stepped up with our weekly broadcast. They are absolutely committed to the gospel message—to serving and going the extra-mile in building God’s Kingdom. I think of those of who deliver food. Those who help with finances.
But how do we keep deploying people? We need to remind people, that in God's good plan, He wants all of his people to join Him in His mission. Where is God leading you?
First Peter 4:10 says, "As each one has received a special gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." May this be true before, during and, especially, after the pandemic.
Second, that we would keep worship central in our lives.
God's gathered worship is central, it’s critical to our lives. When we meet on Sabbath mornings for Sabbath School and Worship at 11:00am, it’s important that we adjust to this experience from home. We can all worship together in spirit—even though we can’t see each other. I need to be fed, to worship, to learn from others, to hear new stories, and to be reminded that I belong to a great family. A big family. A family who cares and loves. A family that celebrates life together online—for now.
Ephesians 3:10 says, "God has chosen the church to make known his manifold wisdom in the world." God has chosen the Castle Hill Seventh-day Adventist church.
The church has not been able to gather in ways that we enjoy and love. Not only do we value that, but gathering together is the mark of a biblical church. However, the lack of gathering has actually helped us to emphasise other areas in the life of the church.
Serving others. Prayer. Men’s Bible Study every Wednesday night led by Chris Engel. Women’s Bible study group. Youth Bible studies. Phone calls. Food parcels and so much more.
My hope is that God's worship would be central to our lives. And in worshipping Him, may we learn to serve one another and people in our community.
Third, we would see the heart of God more clearly.
Yes, there are a lot of debates right now about masks, border closures, and so on. But, I've heard a lot more people these days talk about the poor, the hurting, and the marginalised. There's a fresh perspective from many on the "least of these."
This crisis has focused on the impact this has had on marginalised people. We've seen the devastation in nursing homes, the elderly, the sick, and people with compromised immune systems, the unemployed, and the increase in those not coping well. And, we've seen servants with huge hearts like those who help and serve the poor, and stories of first responders and healthcare workers sacrificing greatly.
I once heard a pastor tell of an opportunity he had to speak to the national directors of a large mission organisation. He was scheduled to speak at 1:00pm. A friend from the mission picked him up and as they drove to the conference centre, the pastor asked how the morning had gone. It turned out that the directors had been divided and had some heated debates over policy matters—not an ideal setting to minister!
When the pastor began his talk—he asked the leaders to bow their heads and to raise their hands if they had spent time alone with God that morning. Remember, these were top mission officials! But only a few hands out of many went up. So the pastor took some time for them to spend quietly with God before he spoke. Then he insisted that they spend three hours the next morning in the Word and prayer before he came to speak at 1:00pm again.
At first, they balked, protesting that they had too much work to do. But he stuck to his guns. He said that they were a different group of men the next day when he got up to speak!
Do you want God’s supreme compliment applied to you—that you are a person after God’s heart? Make sure you’re truly converted.
Depend consciously each day on the Holy Spirit. Spend time alone with God—often. And, practice obedience in the small things He gives you to do. That’s how God developed David from a shepherd boy to a great king. Such was God’s description of David, “This is a man after My own heart” (Read Acts 13:22; 1 Sam. 13:14).
Every person who has a heart after God’s heart must walk the same way.
As we look forward—how can we continue on the positive movements and focus on what we have seen emerge? Returning to normal after such a historic moment would be nothing short of missing one of the greatest opportunities of our lifetime.
Castle Hill, we’ve been handed the chance to be better and do better for the Kingdom. Let’s go and do it.
Yours—because of Jesus.
Pastor Pablo Lillo
Preaching Roster: August "Letting Go of..."
15. Mitchell Strahan "Letting Go of Bitterness"
Offering: Castle Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church—please give generously
22. Dr Bryan Craig "Letting Go of Control"
29. Zen Wijeyesinghe "Letting Go of Your Past"
Offering: Adventist Education
Our Church Vision:
The vision of Castle Hill Seventh-day Adventist church is to be the most loving church.
Our mission is for us to take the good of Jesus Christ to every place we can, in every way possible. Whatever the means, we want to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our School, friends, family, neighbours, and the wider community.
1. To honour God through worship.
2. To share the Gospel message of Jesus with others.
3. To connect with others in meaningful relationships.
4. To prepare disciples to fulfill their purpose.
5. To encourage leaders in their God-given destiny.
Senior Pastor – Pablo Lillo
M: 0412 588 827
Associate Pastor – Nick Kross
M: 0423 107 766
Youth Pastor – Jessica Laws
M: 0424 370 294
Senior Elder - Marvin Malcolm
M: 0414 430 688