CERC does Ephesians: Virtual, but no less missional | CERC News | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)

CERC does Ephesians: Virtual, but no less missional

6 Sep 2021

CERC’s sermon series on the book of Ephesians

Can churching during a pandemic, especially in a virtual setting, be effective at all? CERC’s latest series on the book of Ephesians comes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and is part of the God’s Story: New Testament sermon series. CERC also concurrently launched a new season of Geddit? Virtual – a fully virtual series of evangelistic events based on the book of Ephesians.

What is Geddit? Virtual one might ask? Upon clicking into the Geddit? website, one is immediately confronted with a series of existential questions. “Do you get who you are? Know where you’re going?” Most of us would probably have an answer in mind. Scroll a little further and the website catches you mid-thought. “Maybe you believe you already know the answer to this. But have you got the full picture on life?” As its name suggests, Geddit? aims to help people understand or “get” God in a fun yet thought-provoking environment. The physical Geddit? events before the pandemic offered visitors a pop-up restaurant experience in CERC, where guests listened to engaging evangelistic skits, performances, and talks while enjoying a delicious meal freshly served by CERC’s in-house kitchen team. Over the years, this has helped encourage many guests, who found Geddit? to be an approachable way to think about the important questions in life, and find their answers in Christianity. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic made physical gatherings scarce, and evangelistic events like Geddit? had to innovate. As the SOPs evolved, the church had to adapt accordingly with some groups meeting physically while others met virtually. Some gathered in CERC when limited physical gatherings were permitted while the rest met virtually before the lockdown  (Helping People to Get God, Get Life in the Midst of Covid-19). However, as the pandemic wore on and movement restrictions became more stringent, the church found itself having to run Geddit? in a completely virtual medium.

Enter Geddit? Virtual – a fully online, virtual experience where people can continue to experience creative performances and meaningful talks, and ultimately be introduced to Christianity – all in a safe environment from the comfort of their own homes. The inaugural season of Geddit? Virtual featured the book of Ephesians. Besides the special Geddit? Virtual events, the church would gather for regular Sunday gatherings, where in-depth sermons on sections of Ephesians would be preached, and discuss passages of Ephesians in Growth Groups throughout the week. Geddit-Get-Togethers, informal socials, and watch parties during the Geddit? season were also run as fully virtual events, with various Growth Groups experimenting with different online games, creative Zoom icebreakers, and virtual cultural norms to improve online engagement. Apart from the talks, the church also produced creative skits and original songs to be presented in a virtual setting, some of which can be viewed on the Geddit? Youtube channel and on Spotify.

Now, one might wonder if churching during a pandemic can be effective at all, with people watching sermons from afar in their homes, probably distracted by a million things, kids notwithstanding. Evangelism and discipleship are fundamental to the church’s mission, and would certainly have to evolve with a virtual medium. CERC thought the same, and reached out to the church for them to share their reflections on the Ephesians series, so that the church would be able to build up and encourage one another despite not being able to meet physically during the pandemic.

Jane Chan reflects on how Ephesians reminded her to take church membership seriously

Jane Chan, fondly known as “Aunty Jane” in church, shared on how the Ephesians series helped her understand the importance of church membership. “Through CERC’s current Ephesians series, the concept of being saved to be part of God’s family and becoming a member of one body and fellow heirs together became even clearer to me. This is indeed a good reminder for me to take church membership seriously”, said Aunty Jane. Going through the book of Ephesians seemed to help clarify for some what is often not just a theological, but also pastoral concern. More often than not, we see church membership as something unimportant or non-essential, and sometimes we go along with it without truly understanding how church membership is what biblical Christianity calls for.

Leong Sok Yan shares her reflections on what it means to be the church, during the Ephesians series

Besides church membership, the Ephesians series also helped the church understand what the Bible means when it speaks of peace and unity, which are common themes throughout the Bible. Leong Sok Yan from CERC said, “I learned that the creation of the church, a people reconciled to God, is a glorious display of what is achievable only through the work of Christ, who is Himself our peace. To preach peace is to preach Christ, His glorious achievement on the cross, and His rule that enabled the spiritually dead to now bless God. In Him alone can we be this “new man” – it is not a better version of an old self, but a new creation altogether.”

Consequently, the church learned that true peace and unity can only be had in Christ. This runs contrary to popular culture, which might think of peace and unity as merely the absence of disagreement or any kind of harmony – conditions that the Bible shows would still be futile if they were achieved without Christ. Having learned what Christ’s work enables for humanity and the church, Sok Yan also saw how this translated into God’s intentions for the church, and the role of Christians within it today. “My motivation to live should therefore be to reflect this new identity that has already been achieved in Christ, not to simply change some bad habits by my own effort. The reality of a church being “joined together” in Christ also means that our salvation is not just about you or me as saved individuals, but as a new people being brought together in one Spirit, reconciled to God and to one another to keep growing as His holy temple,” said Sok Yan. Geddit? Virtual and Geddit-Get-Togethers then helped to introduce these fundamental Christian concepts to newcomers – from helping them understand mankind’s state of rebellion against God, to seeing that God’s powerful transformation of such a people into a new humanity united with Him is only made possible with Christ.

Raymond Choy reflects on prayer during the Ephesians series

The Ephesians series also gave the church some practical applications for prayer, which naturally flows from one’s theology. Raymond Choy, who also attends CERC, found going through the book of Ephesians and learning from Paul’s example particularly helpful for understanding the function and nature of prayer. “For most of my life, I didn’t understand the fundamentals of prayer. The sermon from Ephesians 1 helped me to understand that prayer comes from the entire build-up and unfolding of God’s eschatological work in Christ for all His saints. Because of this, we should understand that prayer anticipates what is to come, yet ensures that we are kept strong in faith till that day. Prayer is about having an earnest desire for God’s plan rather than for our own ambitions and dreams. This is why Paul’s prayer in v17-23 is similar to v3-11: it represents his hope that all the saints who read this will continue in the promises of v3-11.” said Raymond.

Kaylee Tan shares her reflections from Ephesians series

Finally, the Ephesians series helped the church grow deeper than ever in its appreciation for God in all His glory. In the first few verses of Ephesians, Paul wrote the words “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3)” as he ministers to his audience. Paul showed how God has worked to fulfil His plans and purposes for all of creation, including undeserving sinners, in Christ even before the foundation of the world. He reminded them of God’s immense power and, through the work of Christ, the very same power that has enabled their transformation as the church – all to the praise of His glorious grace.

Kaylee Tan shared her personal reflections on this, saying “From chapter one of Ephesians, I realized the beauty of God and the awesomeness of His glory because He lavished His grace upon us by giving us EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. This is so other-worldly, totally not of this world. What a great joy Christians have, because they are part of this cosmic plan and reality that centers on Christ and His Church! Truly our God is the wise and glorious God of all the ages. Truly Christ is the awesome King and the pinnacle of all things in all creation. Truly we are so sinful for spitting on our blessings, wishing to go back to the cursed life. May man be brought low and God be glorified forevermore.”

It is apparent that despite the difficulties posed by the current pandemic, CERC remains steadfast in its mission to grow the gospel in the Klang Valley and to continually grow in Christ-likeness as the church. As is said in Ephesians, 

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4: 11-16, ESV)”

Thus, despite being fully virtual, God’s grace continues to abound with every Word preached, every Geddit? Virtual and Geddit-Get-Together held, and every person gathered. For His Spirit accompanies the work of the saints, ensuring that His church continues in its mission to be light in the Lord (Eph 5:8).