On Sunday night our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, provided firm leadership as a response to the challenges of a growing COVID-19 infection rate in South Africa. As noted in his speech this worldwide pandemic has consequences for public health, public functioning and public resources.
As part of the broader church community and specifically the Baptist Union of South Africa, the prohibition of gathering of 100 or more people has a direct bearing on the viability of Sunday gatherings and other planned midweek gatherings. Of note, Easter celebrations will commence soon and many might have to suspend planned gatherings over this very special time. Please note that this recommendation has been made in many of the affected regions in the world and has at its heart the well being of its citizens and inhabitants. The following broad recommendations and considerations are offered as an ecclesiastical response.
We adore worshiping the One True God congregationally but we are aware that South Africa has challenging health, social and economic realities. These realities are reflected in our churches as well. South Africa has many infected with HIV and tuberculosis. Added to that the economic realities of the majority in our country may make social distancing impossible. Dr Stuart Carolisen theorizes that South Africa and Africa in general may be hardest hit considering these factors. We recommend that churches adhere to the infection control suggested regimen and self isolation protocols government has instituted. As a ministry to those who are more at risk, may compassion drive our decision making as local congregations.
We are called as a Christian community to draw near. Social distancing (better called solidarity distancing) might appear to be a paradox. We ask that you abide by this guideline to aid the interest of the community. In times gone by during infectious pandemics the church has done its best to minister to the best interest of society by being wise and disciplined. The church has also simultaneously known to put fear aside and fulfill its mandate to care for the sick and effected. May you know the difference and rise to the occasion as required.
Some churches may have to close Sunday services periodically. We call you back to Baptist ecclesiology as to who and what the church is. The CHURCH is the whole company of those who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. As a local manifestation of the CHURCH, Baptist churches, considering the above, will find new and creative ways for public and congregational worship.
Every cloud has a silver lining, may the silver lining for the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa be the able response of BUSA churches everywhere. To God be the glory, great things he has done!
It has now been four months into my new environment at Claremont Baptist Church. And what a time it has been! I have been overwhelmed by the syncing, support, and service that I have found here. Some time back I was asked to define my thinking on the integration and transition necessities brought about by my tenure here at CBC. So, to grasp the concept with crystal clarity (which for me almost always also means brevity) I have formulated my ideas around a H.A.T.
Hence the title: You Can Keep Your H.A.T On.
My introductory conviction and sense is hopefully conveyed by the title. And it means this: Do not disrupt things too much, you get to keep your hat on for now. The mental picture I have in my mind is, when I am sitting down in my favourite chair at home and an unexpected guest stops by. My wife brings him through to where I am and I respond with a surprised yet pleasant facial expression. I hurriedly move to stand up to greet and the visitor says, “Please, don’t get up!” My message to CBC is the same; please don’t get up; at ease sailor; you can keep your hat on. My presence here will not be an unwelcomed disruption but a valuable addition. For those of you who like things in formula speak, consider this
Purposed Appeal → Valuable Addition → Organic Assimilation → Mutual Affirmation → Necessary Alteration → Desired Action
A few months ago the above processed was started when CBC extended the official appeal for me to become a member and pastor of CBC. I made CBC a valued addition to my life. Since then there has been an organic assimilation taking place whereby I am getting to know my new family and hopefully they are getting to know me beyond my public persona. All the while a mutual affirmation has been developing. Change has been thrust upon us and there has been necessary alterations on both sides. As we work out the future together while establishing the present, we are committed to a set of determined desired actions that will bring God glory and extend the kingdom of God.
Here is the acronym H.A.T. that I conclude with:
Honour the past:
I have come to realise that pastoral leadership is a partnership between the present and the past. Many treat it as a competition where the present dispensation vies for greater esteem and efficacy than the previous one. This should not be so. Rather, we should see an interlocking connection between past dispensations and the current one. With this in mind I am able to pay tribute to the great leaders that this church was privileged to host and most certainly to the most recent previous pastor, the Reverend Peter Smallbones. His work and ministry will continue to influence and inspire this church for many years to come. We can say thank you God for him and his ministry.
Adjust to the present:
Any addition to our context no matter how small will demand some sort of adjustment from us. We need to consult God in prayer to make the right adjustments which take into account not only my needs but the needs of the broader church community as well as the claims that scriptural truth demands of us.
Train for the Future:
So once the future has been determined (we call this vision), we begin to make an adjustment of training towards manifesting it. Attempting it (mission) is another adjustment we will make later which has the distinction of being both a status quo modifier while simultaneously being a status quo creator.
There you go.
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Over the last few weeks I have been facing my own inadequacies as a Father and a parent as I ponder the immense responsibility to disciple my children. You may or may not know that the communities I serve have a distinct lack of healthy parenting and it leads to a host of spiritual and social consequences that most would rather not deal with. So to begin with, allow me to define parenting according verse seven: “Parenting is a divine calling and opportunity for multi-generational impact for Jesus”. This is the best opportunity that I am going to have at getting a captive audience to create disciples for Jesus. WOW! When I realised this I felt broken because this was never really my operating model. Repentance before the Lord soon followed. Furthermore, parenting is developed in our text as follows:
Parenting is a Choice. Parenting is not a laissez faire endeavour. Children cannot be left to develop on their own but need the structure and support that comes with authoritative direction. The consumer culture of the day has resulted in countless parents who are prescribed what, where and how to parent. This insults the sensibilities of the Bible at least and demonically opposes it at best. We have to choose to parent and we have to plan to parent.
Parenting is a Calling. The passing on of eternal truth to the next generation in my line is a calling from God. It is commanded, precepted, and expected. I have the opportunity to pastor in the literal sense of the word my own biological and or adopted children. Impressing (v7) is hard work. Notice that impressing, which takes energy, is done as a continuous action in every time and every context. To accomplish this you are going to need some supernatural power. Well, what God calls for God provides for. Walk in your parental calling and see the provision of God.
Parenting is a Cooperation. God’s plan from the very beginning of creation was for children to be discipled by a father and a mother who are joined in matrimony and living together. Much respect must be given to single mothers/fathers who disciple with the lot that they have been given. Parenting is also a cooperation with God as alluded to previously. If he is not the Executive Partner of the parenting team, much can go wrong.
Join me as I ask God to be IMPRESSIVE as a parent!!