At the time of writing, the Shelter in Place order in the Bay Area and other parts of the country has many of us wondering how to experience meaningful emotional and spiritual connections with others while staying in our own homes.
We’ve devoted our digital media resources to producing high quality live stream messages on Sunday mornings, and we hope you are enjoying these as much as we are.
Having “church at home” also provides some great opportunities to innovate. You can create the spiritual and emotional connections you’re looking for, right in your living room.
The early disciples in the book of Acts give us a great example of being innovative and resilient when faced with unprecedented problems:
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faithActs 6:1-7 NIV
The first century disciples were facing a challenge they hadn’t seen before. Their numbers were increasing, and their old way of distributing food wasn’t working. What did they do? They innovated. Their challenge became an opportunity for more spiritual leaders to grow.
Today, we face a challenge most of us haven’t seen before: we can’t meet together with our friends in person. Structured services we have relied on and grown accustomed to aren’t there.
Just like these New Testament disciples, God can give us the faith and courage to see spiritual opportunities in our current difficulties. Perhaps you will learn how to create an incredible and inspiring communion meal, or discover a special talent for creating a fun “spiritual music time” your kids love and remember for the rest of their lives.
Here are a few ideas for how to create your own faith-building worship service while you “shelter in place” on Sunday mornings.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Acts 2:42 NIV
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 NIV
Fellowship is “friendly association, especially with those who share one’s common interests.” Fellowship with other Christians is vital to our faith. When we are alone, we can be overpowered spiritually – by fear, temptation, or other forces that try to steal our faith.
Just because we have to be physically distant right now, we don’t have to be spiritually distant. Here are a few ideas for creating encouraging fellowship on Sunday mornings:
- As best you can, watch the live stream live, at 11 am PST. We leave the recordings up all week, so if need be you can watch the service later. But we recommend watching it at the same time as everyone else because this creates a shared experience, and shared experiences are not easy to come by while sheltering in place. You can text friends about favorite moments while the service is happening and enjoy each other’s reactions.
- On Sunday morning, try planning a Zoom meeting before service starts with other Christians so you can connect, have coffee together, sing, and pray before the message begins.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.  O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.Psalm 59:16-17
Singing is an important part of our relationship with God, especially in times of distress. It reminds us of God’s protection and promise to keep us safe. It’s also a way to express gratitude for him.
One of the most challenging scriptures to me about singing is in Acts 16:
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.Acts 16:22-26 NIV
Yes, that’s right. Paul and Silas were attacked, stripped, beaten with rods, severely flogged, and thrown into prison. What did they do once they were in prison? Pass out in exhasution? Give in to despair?
Nope. They prayed and sang hymns to God. And other people heard them. Their faith didn’t go unnoticed, by other people or by God.
We can learn some important lessons from this – music is essential to our faith in difficult and uncertain times. We would be remiss to skip singing to God while we shelter in place.
Don’t feel like a great singer? That’s okay. What’s important to God is your expression of gratitude and joy:
Let us come before His presence with a song of thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with songs.Psalm 95:2 AMP
We have music in our live stream message, but you may want to do more singing with your household. Need some help getting started? Here are links to a few songs with lyrics on YouTube you can sing along to with your family or roommates:
Or, check out this website for the lyrics of many of the songs we sing at our typical worship services.
If you have young kids, you can get the whole family involved with some kid-friendly worship songs, like these:
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV
Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.1 Corinthians 11:28 NIV
Communion is a time we break bread and drink the fruit of the vine in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The Bible also calls us to examine our hearts before we do this.
You can take communion with others in your household by praying and reflecting in gratitude for Jesus’ forgiveness of your sins after watching the livestream message together.
How to make your own communion bread
Since we normally provide communion bread and grape juice at our services, make sure to think ahead and prepare your supplies at home. You can make your own bread in about 20 minutes with ingredients you likely already have.
Here’s an easy recipe from AllRecipes that you can follow.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix flour, oil, and salt together in a bowl; add water and mix using a pastry cutter until dough is soft. Form dough into 6 balls and press into disks onto the prepared baking sheet using your hands.
- Bake in the preheated oven until bread is cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.
Make sure to get some grape juice at the grocery store and you will be all set for your own communion at your home.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 12 NIV
We are incredibly grateful for those who desire to give financially to God’s Kingdom, especially during these uncertain financial times. Giving is a way of expressing thanks to God, and we know he loves every effort we make to do it – no matter how small (Luke 21:1-4)
Most of us have had the experience of giving contribution during the worship service Sunday morning. Due to the current need to shelter in place, we’ve updated our platforms to make it easy to give online through PayPal Giving Fund, Bill Pay, or with your credit card.
How to use PayPal Giving Fund
You can give to us directly if you have a PayPal account using either the PayPal Giving Fund website or by using the PayPal app and selecting “Support a charity” and searching for “Bay Area Christian Church.” There is no processing fee to use PayPal.
Check out this video for a quick “how-to” guide:
How to use your credit card to give
Using your credit card to give contribution is simple and quick. Please note that using your credit card does require a processing fee.
Check out this video to learn more:
You can also mail us a check or use Bill Pay as well (contact your bank’s support team for questions on how to set up Bill Pay).
We hope these tips have given you some ideas for creating a fun, inspiring, and spiritually encouraging church experience right in your living room.