Here are a list of common questions the Australian Union Conference has been asked, and their answers…
Q1. Is the church still operating at all.
A1. Yes, very much so!
- We are loud in the media space: HOPE/WAYMAKER/DISCIPLE.ORG
- Schools Moving Online
- Local Churches Operating Online: Sermons/Bible Studies/Small Groups/Resources
Q2. As the Administration of the Adventist Church what are your plans for COVID19? Are you in quarantine? What will you do doing? How will you cope?
A2a. Are you in quarantine?
We’re no different to anyone else – We have no special dispensation from the government or church to act differently from anyone else. So ‘yes’ we are adhering to quarantine requirements as well!
A2b. What are your personal plans for COVID19? What will you do doing?
We will be adhering to the advice from the medical experts and isolating at home…we need to ensure that we are responsible – we need to do all that we can to remain healthy so we can continue to function in the capacity we’ve been called by God to do at this point in time. We will shift our centres of operation from the office to home and continue as normal fulfilling the demands of our roles as much as possible under the current circumstances.
A2c. How will you cope?
We are remaining positive…even though we are experiencing physical distancing we can still maintain our spiritual closeness and community by the use of media platforms and personal study and reflection.
Q3. Do you advise local churches to be open or shut?
A3. In accordance to the laws of the land – shut.
We are not in a position to defy what the Federal and State Governments have dictated in order to try and deal with the current crisis.
They have not ordered the closure of our churches (in fact many of our politicians are Christians themselves who attend church regularly) for religious reasons but for health and safety reasons. This is not an overt attack on religion – these measures have been put in place in order to reduce the spread of a highly infectious viral disease.
Q4. What about the idea that God will protect us, so shouldn’t we keep our doors open.
We are sure the Lord expects us to use our intelligence in matters such as this – that’s why we don’t drive through red lights!
Many Adventists still lost their homes in the recent bushfire crisis – Jesus never promised that He would shield us from trouble and calamity – but – He did promise that eventually we would be delivered from it!
Jesus Himself was tested as recorded in Matthew, His response, “Don’t put the Lord your God to the test…”
This not primarily a test of one’s faith, but a test of one’s common sense!
Q5. Will God protect us from COVID19 or could some of us die?
A5. We acknowledge the fact that perhaps some could
… But we do not know the mind of the Father and therefore it is impossible to give a definitive answer to a question such as this. Throughout the history of the church we have seen times where the Lord has purposefully surrounded His followers and protected them from calamity. And then there have been other times where it seems like He has allowed challenging times to be visited upon His people for a reason and a season.
We are not sure how He will move during this time, but we do know that no matter what happens He is in control – He will not lose control – He is always in control!
In John 17 Jesus prays for His followers:
- For eventual deliverance from a DANGEROUS world.
- For eventual deliverance from a DECEIVED world.
- For eventual deliverance from a DIVIDED world.
- For eventual deliverance from a DEFILED world.
REMEMBER, Jesus promises eventual deliverance from this world – He is in TOTAL control!
Q6. I hear a lot of Adventists talking about this virus as a plot by the Papacy, or as a plan by the elite to de-populate the world, how do you see that kind of talk?
A6. Theories abound in such times as this!
There are some in the church who will no doubt be thinking this way. We are not here to belittle the thoughts and opinions of some. We choose to concentrate on the new opportunities this current crisis will bring to the church – opportunities for;
- Personal spiritual growth
- Evangelistic and pastoral care initiatives by both church employees and our laity.
- Solidarity of mission and purpose – continuing to be a thriving disciple-making movement
- Reflection and prayer
- Assurance that the teachings of scripture continue to manifest themselves as true, particularly in a time where society is hostile to the Bible, it’s teachings and Jesus followers.
We are living in the last days…we know that…we have also been told by Jesus Himself that before He comes it will be difficult times – BUT – He will come, He will come, He will come…and when He does He brings deliverance.
Q7. How can Adventists share their faith when locked down?
A7. Many creative ways!
For instance, we are certainly living in an age where we cannot ignore the power of social media.
And what comes with social media is a huge opportunities to share offers of support with neighbours, and messages of hope, assurance, comfort! Our church right across Australia has been working very hard and continues to work very hard on leveraging the opportunities that online platforms afford us for of sharing the gospel.
Research tells us that the most effective organisations are active in two or three networks/platforms and n general, Australians (both Christian and secular) are avid consumers of social media.
- 18 million Australians have active social media accounts, that’s 72% of the population.
- Australians spend an average of 1.5-1.75 hours per day on social media
- Facebook is Australia’s 3rd highest trafficked site after Google and YouTube.
- While users skew to the 25-34 age group, there are more than 1.25 million Facebook users over 65 in Australia
Social Media Statistics Australia – January 2019
- Facebook – 15,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users
YouTube – 15,000,000 Unique Australian Visitors per month
Instagram – 9,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users
WhatsApp – 7,000,000 Active Australian Users
Snapchat – 6,400,000 Monthly Active Australian Users
WordPress.com – 5,800,000
Twitter – 4,700,000 Monthly Active Australian Users approx
Q8. How are the finances of the church?
A8. These are trying times both in terms of health and economics for the country as well as the church.
We have faithful members who continue to support the church with their tithes and offerings – many of them are doing so online by the use of the E-giving portal. We encourage everyone to continue contributing to the missional work of the church so that our aged care, school and churches can continue to operate as close to normal as possible.
The church is currently employing ways to greatly rationalise its expenditure…our financial resources are finite and budgets are tight – that has been the message given by church administrators to church members over the ages, and many remain sceptical that it is in fact true…but it is…we are not awash with finances and never have been – ministry costs and we remain dedicated and committed to spreading the gospel even in trying times such as these – we are dependant upon our members to support the church!
At such a time as this we need to continue and faithfully support the operation of the church by returning tithes and offerings.
Q9. How many churches are online with worship services?
A9. We am pleased to report that many of our church pastors and their congregations have embraced online worship – and the number is increasing each day.
The majoring of churches now have some presence online or have the capability of accessing the resources available to continue day-to-day and weekend worship.
Administrations all around the country are working at supporting, training and assisting more and more of our churches to be online and enjoy the community it can give.
Each day at Division, Union and Conference administrative levels new resources are being made available in a whole range of different formats to ensure that those who wish to worship online may do so.
We very pleased to see what is happening currently in this space right around the country – We love the way our pastors and teachers AND church members have embraced the challenge before us and what they are all doing to best deal with it.
I AM SO VERY PROUD OF WHAT OUR CHURCH IS DOING AND HOW IT IS HANDLING THE CURRENT CRISIS – THE INITIATIVES AND SUPPORT PEOPLE ARE OFFERING EACH OTHER – THE SOLIDARITY WE ARE WITNESSING – THE GENEROSITY – THE PRAYER FOR EACH OTHER – IT’S AMAZING TO SEE OUR CHURCH MEMBERS STEPPING UP AND BEING THE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME…PRAISE GOD!
Murray Hunter, AUC