At Ashford Vineyard, we definitely believe in bringing life to Ashford and that means that Sundays are just a part of what we do. The Warehouse is a wonderful base for us to work from, but with lockdown in full swing, church has very much left the building and instead is in our homes!
Staying connected with God, each other and AV (if we’re the church you feel a part of) is so crucial in this time, with many of our normal patterns and routines to stay in relationship having been disrupted. It takes some intentionality. This guide is to help you by providing some resources. It is not even scratching the surface, let alone exhaustive!
There is a lot here and it is split into three main sections. Click on one to take you straight there, or scroll through them:
Some of the go-to videos or artists that many us often use are:
These links take you to their websites. An easy way to get going is to simply visit YouTube and put the name in the search bar. Once you have listened to or watched some of these and found the ones that you like that help you to connect to God, then they often have recommendations – ‘If you like X, then you’ll probably like Y’ type thing. Follow some of these and see where they end up.
Most of these can be accessed through a web browser (a device that means that you can type in a ‘www’ address – smartphones, computers, tablets, smart TVs etc.) If you would like some help, then email or call us and we will do what we can to help over the phone!
There are some excellent podcasts out there that range between full-on Bible teaching, right through to reflective thoughts and meditations.
Podcasts are best accessed through a dedicated app on a smartphone, but you can also visit most of these websites and listen there too. Apple’s app is called ‘Podcasts’ and can be found here. Google offers this app. There are plenty of other apps that will play podcasts too
Some of the go-to podcasts for some of us are:
The style of these vary enormously, so if you find there’s one that doesn’t help much, then move on to another one.
Praying is simply talking to God and listening. It’s an intentional spending time with him. It’s ok to set aside some time to be away from other distractions (easier said than done in lockdown). You can pour your heart out to God about what you’re feeling, you can pray through some members of your family and neighbourhood, you can pray for Ashford and Ashford Vineyard etc. The main advice we would give would be to keep it real (don’t pray something you feel you have to and in a voice that doesn’t sound like you!) and pray the answers not the problem. Our words have power!
Pete Greig has an excellent book called How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People, which has some great advice on how to grow in your prayer life, whatever your experience level. It can be purchased online here.
We also have the Say a Little Prayer email running too. So if there’s anything we can pray for, then do email in – many people have and we are seeing many changes in circumstances as a result. firstname.lastname@example.org
This can sound like odd language, but it is a generic term for ten or so minute chunks of time that often involve reading or listening to the Bible and some thoughts in response to that. Often, there is something to pray and an action step type idea. Here are some that you could use:
Just take a look, try a sample and see what you think. Of course, you can use more than one and there are many more out there!
There are a number of SM platforms, but the most common are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. There are others such as Tiktok, Snapchat etc, but these are more for entertainment than resources or info.
So, one of the best ways to use SM to connect with God, is to follow people that inspire you. You can follow a number of people (like their page, ask to be their friend etc) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and see what they are saying. Often, they point on to other resources too or online events that are running. Obviously, the first thing to do is to check AV’s page and posts every day so you don’t miss out on what’s happening!
A routine would really consist of any combination of the above. For example, many people are using the Hand-washing Prayer every time they wash their hands. Some people take time to do a devotional at the same time every day and that helps establish a rhythm. Don’t forget, it’s not law and God is not disappointed in you if you don’t. It’s an invitation to stay connected with him. Fasting can be a part of this and also deliberately connecting with friends – the ones who don’t pull you away from God or perpetuate fear in your life.
There are so many books out there and what resonates for one person won’t resonate for another. So, we have a book list that we give to our interns and this would be a good place to start.
Here are some others:
Don’t forget, you may be able to lend a book to someone else if they live nearby – you could drop it off to them on your daily exercise by leaving it by the front door!
There is a key to keeping in contact with people and that is this: You have to be willing to make the first move. We can all be guilty of sitting at home wondering why nobody has called or text us and then we realise that we haven’t called or text anybody else. Communication is like seeds – the more you plant, the more you’ll get!
Just a word to the wise here: Try to keep your communications with your friends as positive as possible and point them to the truth where they are believing things that aren’t true. Jesus is likely to be the answer (or at the very least the source of the answer) for most issues. Try to not let communications become ‘moanfests’ – they help nobody.
As some of the lockdown restrictions end, there is the option to go for daily exercise with a person outside of your family or get into groups of 6 outside of the house and your family. Use these ideas below as well – options really help!
Seems simple enough, but maybe decide you are going to send a message to a few people. Perhaps do three in the morning and another couple later on in the day. Ask open-ended questions that need a response. It would be very unusual to send ten texts and get nothing back!
It seems a little old-fashioned, but maybe pick up the phone and give someone a call. If need be, leave a voicemail and hopefully the person will call you back when they can. You never know, they could be sitting at home feeling like they would like some connection with others too!
Now we’re adding the visual element in as well. Words communicate only 8% of our communication and voice tone adds another 37% to that. The rest of our communication (55%) is body language and this is where adding in video can really help. You can also use WhatsApp video call as well as the above listed and of course, there are plenty of other platforms. You’ll need to sign up to Skype and Zoom, but they have entry-level packages that are free to use. FaceTime is native to Apple.
Our top tip, is that if you are going to be in a group call, remember to use headphones (just a simple pair that came with the phone will do, or get some on Amazon) – it really changes the quality of the call. Also, be somewhere well-lit and where the internet connection is good.
We know – very old-school! People love to receive letters and you can post them on your daily exercise (assuming you are not shielding). Even if you are shielding, perhaps someone else could post them for you. Stamps can be bought as part of your regular shopping.
Social media is a fantastic way to keep up with people – whether that’s seeing a friend’s garden in full bloom, family performances or the latest vlog. Facebook is a great place to start and is the place where community happens the easiest. If you’ve never been on Facebook before, then Google ‘Facebook’ and then sign up for an account. Here is a video for you to watch to help you get it set up in a way that makes you feel safe and that you are sharing only the parts of your life you wish to! Twitter is less of a conversation and more of a series of statements with some images and Instagram is more image based.
Whichever one you’re on, find your friends and say hello. Post a picture up maybe and even do a little bit of video when you’re feeling brave!
A word of warning, some people are not always the most positive. Be careful to not spend too much time looking at their posts. We often find it doesn’t help us. Guard what goes into your hearts and minds!
For now, all AV Sundays services are being streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and Church Online. They are also available to watch later on, but the advantage of watching it live, is that you can comment, say hello to people and feel a part of something that is happening there and then. You DON’T have to have signed up to Facebook to watch it, but you do to comment. Visit this link and you will find the links to join in at 9:30am every Sunday for an hour of worship, encouragement and some teaching. This has become enormously popular. Please LIKE and SHARE during the live feed (or after it) Every time you SHARE it, other people who you know may get to see it and the reach is extended.
Ashford Vineyard has its own page on Facebook (and some other groups). One of the best ways to keep up with what is going on is to visit that page every day and see what has been posted and then, you can do something amazing… please LIKE and SHARE it to see it spread to countless other people. Every day, AV is doing a Daily Check-In from one of the pastors or cluster leaders, just as a way to say ‘Hi, how are you?’
Twitter has regular posts too, as does Instagram. If you’re on all three, then please visit them daily and LIKE/SHARE/FOLLOW.
Our website is the authority for all information. It’s not a place where community happens, but it is the final word in what AV are up to and we work hard to keep it as up to date as possible. News goes on, events, updates and all kinds of information. If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re on the site right now, so after you’ve finished this page, then have a rummage around – you may be surprised what you find!
AV has been publishing its podcasts for many years now and there are a number of ways you can access them. You can listen to them directly on the website here, you can download the podcasts into your library on any podcast app, you can also listen on Churchsuite too – and Soundcloud! So, there are a number of options to ensure that people don’t miss out. If you’ve listened to one and enjoyed it, then maybe post it on Facebook and let others know about it, then they may listen too!
Not technically a way to stay connected to Ashford Vineyard, but sort of! Many of the groups that have been running have been moved online to something called Whereby. It’s a way that people can get into a virtual room and do some life with each other. We are paying for a subscription to have ten rooms, all of which are available to people to meet with each other. One to particularly note, is that Coffee Club is meeting each week on a Wednesday for the time being. This is at 10:30 and you grab a cuppa and some headphones, follow this link and have the chance to stay connected with each other AND with Ashford Vineyard! Liz would love to welcome you.
Many groups are now meeting online in some way. Get in touch with your group leader to find out how. It’s a little bit of effort, but for a reward of being connected.
Ashford Vineyard has a prayer tree. People can send in a prayer request to either email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org and a team of people will pray. Perhaps you would like to be one of the people praying? All we would ask is that you are connected to Ashford Vineyard and you abide by a confidentiality agreement.
The results from this team have been way beyond what any coincidence could muster up. The average is one prayer request a day, but at the moment there are more like three or four per day. If you’re interested in helping and being part of the team, then email email@example.com
Volunteering is so important, because it helps you to feel a part of something bigger. We have around 200 volunteers at AV and many have been in touch during lockdown to see how they can help. Here are three ways:
There are other ways too – praying for the town and its precious people is a good place to start. Staying connected wiht other people and getting in touch with them is another and there is one more that would make such a difference…
…Our current reach on social media is currently at least ten times what it normally is, if not more. A simple way you can help to make a difference and stay connected to what’s going on, is to find all the AV posts on social media and LIKE and SHARE. You are quite literally helping other people to find out more about what God is up to in our precious town with just a couple of clicks, so thank you.
Many of you give regularly to the precious work of bringing life to Ashford. Thank you. Another way to stay connected is to continue to give. After all, where our treasure is, there is our heart also! Sometimes it can be hard – we understand that. If there’s anything we can do to help, or if there are any changes you’ll be making to your giving (up or down) then please let Hugh know – firstname.lastname@example.org. Every pound you are generously giving is helping to change lives. Thank you.
‘Encountering God and each other’
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