Helping People to ‘Get God, Get Life’ In the Midst of COVID-19
31 Mar 2021
Pushing Forward in Mission
Since its infancy, Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) has always been mission-minded for Christ. Part of it has involved engaging with culture through various creative evangelistic efforts in the form of skits, introductory series on the basics of Christianity, and sermons tailored for KL urbanites – all for the one goal of bringing the Gospel to the Klang Valley. Through our evangelistic series, which began with God and Sex in 2010, then became Introducing God two years later and is now re-branded as Geddit?, the church is still unrelenting in its mission in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost 500 people gathered in the first and second week of Geddit semi-virtual 2021 to hear the Gospel preached, of which 50% were regulars and people relatively new to the church, and 10% were newcomers and non-Christians.
Geddit 2021 in a semi-virtual setting feels strange – different – for those who have experienced it off-screen. You miss the hype, the buildup in the weeks before the event, the carefully produced performances, theme-based dinner meal plans from the Geddit kitchen team, event décor, seating layouts, and inviting friends and family to come for Geddit. When people say “Geddit?”, the things that come to mind are the dining ambience, the theatre-like performances, and the intimacy of an evening where you are prepared to chill and mingle, amidst the three-hundred-odd crowd gathered to hear talks and discuss on topics like ‘Know Jesus, Know God’ and ‘Jesus and Your Life’. Nothing quite like it, really.
Dessert platters from the Kitchen Team, Geddit 2020
Icebreakers during the first Geddit, 2020
But the question is, can a semi-virtual Geddit capture the all-too-important ingredient in evangelistic efforts – that physical, spatial, human experience? The human element which says, “This is real; I am real, you are real, what we’re talking about is real, and therefore, you have to get it.” Evidently so!
CERC resumed the Geddit 2021 series within two weeks of returning to physical gatherings after the first Movement Control Order (MCO) of 2021. The move was heartily celebrated by members and regulars alike in spite of government restrictions requiring the church to adhere to COVID protocols and practice physical distancing.
Regulars returning to CERC Central for Sunday gatherings following COVID SOP
“There’s so much more life with the physical gatherings,” said Melissa Johnson, one of the pioneering members and part of the production team. “Of course, it’s better, it helps your concentration, compared to just hearing God’s Word preached to you from your laptop.” Most people present at the physical gatherings in the early weeks post-MCO also echoed her sentiments.
People of God gathered in CERC Central
Joseph Tan, a CERC regular for the last six years, on the occasion of returning to a physical church gathering for the first time since the March 2020 lockdown, said, “[Physical Geddits are] definitely how church is supposed to be… you get to talk to the stranger next to you. In terms of discipline, I’d say that physically gathering is much preferable as well. There is no way we can hold our brothers and sisters accountable when they say they’re tuning in online.”
Many in the church have embraced the privilege of gathering together physically again as God’s people and CERC Central’s limited seats have been fully booked, week after week.
The 2021 Geddit Production Team have also stepped up impressively to keep the series’ unique character, despite the logistical challenges of adapting to the pandemic situation.
Week 1 of Geddit Virtual showcased a live singing duo called “Adam and Steve”, a parody of the modern cultural narrative of humanity seeking for absolute autonomy as a prelude to the talk entitled ‘God the Good and His Holy Treatment of People and the Reality of Hell.’
‘Adam and Steve’ – Singing duo performance| Geddit Virtual 1 Song
Consequences | Geddit Virtual 1 Skit
Week 2 had people discussing the curious phenomena of micronations and considering the question “Why would you start a country of your own?”, followed by a skit about a transformative Messiah-figure in the history of a fictitious high school, as a warm-up to the talk entitled, ‘God the Son and His Holy Rule.’ And weeks 3 and 4 have shown similar quality content, tailored especially to stimulate discussions and foster reflections on life and the Gospel.
The One Who Made All the Difference | Geddit Virtual 2 Skit
Thus far, Geddit talks by Pastor-in-Training, Jerome Leng, have been thought-provoking and convicting, encouraging Christians to persevere in kingdom-building work and calling non-believers to repentance and faith. Growth Groups (GG), too, have organized virtual watch parties, Geddit Get-Togethers (GGTs), and physical evangelistic outings. Some have gone out for movies together, others decided to try Korean dining, some went hiking, some met in cafes, and still others opened their homes for wine-tasting and boardgames. “So far, Geddit has been great, and I’ve definitely learned a lot. Geddit helps me understand the bible more — things that I’ve never noticed before. It’s been insightful, helpful and fun,” said Jamie Arputham, a visitor who attended the Monash-Sunway Tertiary Growth Group’s GGT.
Mums’ Growth Group Outing at Five Cafe
Monash-Sunway Tertiary Growth Group on a hiking trip at Gasing Hill
The Geddits lined up for the rest of the year will most likely continue in the semi-virtual mode up to the second quarter of 2022, given the projected timeline for the Malaysian government’s COVID vaccination rollout to the public.
Ryan Fong, the Assistant Head of Production House, also shared some challenges to the process of organizing Geddit online. “Compared to acting in a skit with a live audience, creating a 10-minute skit is quite a challenge. There are so many things that we need to consider. Lighting, camera angles, expressions, wardrobe, location, people’s predicted response, and so on. It is not easy at all! Especially with only a handful of us doing everything. We have to focus on getting the message right so that it complements the talk that goes with it. Although we have to work through all the bits and lines to make the short skit funny, our focus is always to make sure our audience gets the message. With that in mind, we’ve come up with all kinds of humour, angles, and more to help the audience stay focused, entertained, and clear about what we are speaking to them about. Our Geddit skits are always reflecting our lives and the truth about who God is with different metaphors or analogies.”
Samuel Tan, Videographer, added, “One of the things I’ve paid extra attention to is the camera angle. I wanted to ensure that people watching the skit will be able to see and feel the character’s emotion, hence understand the plot. We want people to have a good conversation from the skit, hopefully to spark some thoughts that will prepare them to understand the Gospel.”
Production Team in CERC Central
When asked if Production House has plans to change things for the upcoming Geddits, Ryan said, “Definitely! We are a small church department with less than 5 official members. With the limited time and skills that we have, we are always trying to improve because we need to compete with professional YouTubers who are vying for the attention of the internet-savvy Klang Valley audience! So, we spend days and hours looking out for new ways to edit, gaining new skills to produce unique effects, and more! But the few things I feel that we should do differently is to trust God by taking risks with creative editing and cinematography. We need to trust God, the Creator of the universe and the source of our creativity, to help us to do things well so that our production becomes memorable and that the gospel message sticks with our friends even after Geddit.”
While the church remains hopeful that she will be able to freely gather physically as before, her zeal for others to ‘Get God, Get Life’ continues unabated, in light of the church’s wider mission to bring the Gospel to Klang Valley.