The trial gatherings were a success last weekend. It was different to what we are used to but we were so glad to have the opportunity to see each other again! If you didn’t get a chance to come along, the good news is that we have set up flexible practices so that everyone can attend their gathering of choice this weekend. There is no longer any need to hold off coming to let others come. Read this edition to find out more. We will also remain committed to our Soul Revival Digital Gathering so if you can’t get along this weekend you can still watch Soul Revival Digital through our website or on facebook.
Trial Physical Gatherings a Success but there is still room for more
Last weekend we went back to physical Soul Revival Gatherings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
We ran Fuse and Youth on Friday night. Our Kids programs at the other gatherings also started to go back too. About 67% of our members returned to gatherings last weekend but there is still room for everyone this weekend.
Why did we decide to return to gatherings last weekend?
As you may know, we have not rushed to public gatherings. We were ready to return a couple of weeks ago when we were allowed to fit 110 people in the factory at Kirrawee. But when the rules tightened around religious public gatherings and it changed back to only 100 people, we opted to wait to start all our campuses back at the same time. In the last couple of weeks we have adjusted our preparations to meet the new criteria that a maximum of 100 people can attend a religious public gathering.
The Leadership of Soul Revival took into account the current situation in NSW, the Government’s and Archbishop’s permission to meet, the fact that other churches in the Shire have started meeting and the need for people at Soul Revival who are feeling isolated to meet together. So we opted for a continuation of the Soul Revival Digital gathering format and also re-launched our public services. This gave all our members the choice to watch online or attend. This decision reflected the results of the survey of the community we put out earlier this year that showed that people wanted us to get back to physical gatherings but also continue our digital option.
So how many people came along?
Last weekend 67% of our members returned to our physical gatherings. If you also take into account those online last weekend, our attendances were 88% of our pre-covid numbers. That means that our attendances were down only 12% when you count the people who connected physically online or in person on the weekend.
What did the gatherings feel like?
As we knew, the physical gatherings felt a little different. Many people wore masks, we were learning to staying at a safe distance, we did not sing out loud and we did not have meals on Saturday and Sunday but did trial a meal at the Friday Gathering.
Masks were not mandatory but encouraged as per the Archbishops guidelines. Not everyone wore a mask, which was fine, and many did. Masks made the gathering feel very different. We made a go of it and most people were more excited to see each other and appreciated how good we were at smiling with our eyes.
We also found it different not standing around to talk. But the seating has been arranged in all our gatherings to allow us to sit down and have a chat which was fine. We still are not used to distancing but we got better and better at it as the gathering went on.
We did not sing out loud but sang with our hearts as our musicians did a great job at helping us to worship God.
We are trialing meals on Friday night with our young people but we are going to hold off on meals for the time being as we make sure we can be good citizens and seek to keep everyone safe.
It was so good having our kids with us on the weekend. Some of the kids stayed with their parents and some enjoyed the kids program.
The Formal Gathering
Even though the music was different, the prayers and teaching and Bible reading were great.
One thing that did not change is that we met together to share the truth and love of Jesus person to person. And that was the sweetest thing about the whole weekend. We were reminded that is not up to us to build community but we are community because of what Jesus has done for us. We can express this great truth no matter how times may change.