Called to be a Hybrid Church
The third Assembly Resourcing Unit webinar exploring how COVID-19 will change the church examined the idea of “Hybrid Ecclesiology” or the different forms the church will take as it emerges from the pandemic.
The Assembly’s Being a Multicultural Church Circle hosted the webinar on 27 August to encourage the deeper thinking required as we adapt to a new normal.
Circle Advocate Rev. Dr Matagi Vilitama was the first speaker. He reflected on how God is calling us “to be Christ to the world” at this time.
“None of us will know the exact shape or form that the church will look like as it emerges from COVID-19,” said Matagi.
“We are in an ecclesial flux right now, some people are panicking, some people are adjusting, but as a church we are looking to re-construct what it means to be a church at this time.”
Matagi spoke about the model of a “hybrid church” as “a movement of people, not stationed or caught in a rigid place, but a free-flowing fellowship of people revolving around the person of Jesus Christ.”
“I encourage the Church to be very mindful that we are not just the body who meets on Sundays, but we are to reach out, to flow out to the community, to be a hybrid church and to adopt new ways of being Church, and to be a witness that God includes all people.” (Watch Matagi’s full presentation in the video below – click on the first dot in the timeline)
Next speaker Siosiana Tangi, from the Uniting and Mission Pulse Team in NSW/ACT, shared how Second-Generation young people have been called upon to assist First Generation members of their faith communities to adapt to digital technology, and as a result their own faith development was often put on hold.
At the same time, she celebrated the gift of more time to share faith as a family as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“It has been a time where families can gather on the fala or ibe and fellowship and scripture as family, sitting together and having intentional time together which everyone has longed for.” (Watch Siosiana’s full presentation in the video below – click the second dot in the timeline)
The final panellist Rev. Roy Alexander Surjanegara, the minister at GKI Perth, an Indonesian-speaking congregation in WA Synod, spoke about “hybridity” as an attitude of appreciating both the wisdom of tradition and the relevance of context.
“For almost half a year now, we see that our established traditional ways of Church are disrupted a lot of us are forced to pay more attention to context than we do tradition,” said Roy.
“It is time for us to slide our settings more towards context if we want to achieve a more balanced model of hybridity that people can relate to.” (Watch Roy’s full presentation in the video below – click on the third dot in the timeline)
The discussion concluded with Theological Listener Rev. Ann Perrin, Advocate for the Growing in Faith Circle. Ann reflected on the importance of adapting to digital technologies, not only in our worship but also the way we provide pastoral care and the governance of the Church.
“The real challenge is to engage in the transformation that this time might bring about. These sorts of conversations can help as we test ideas and listen to what God might be saying, so that we might rebuild and reshape the Church for a digital future.”
Watch the full video of the webinar below