COVID-19: Bayou City Fellowship is Creating an Intimate House Church Experience Online

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Executive Pastor from Bayou City Fellowship, Brandon Lackey, joins us to discuss how their congregation has responded to COVID-19, the adaptations they have made, the worship experience they are creating, and what they are doing to serve the community.

"God is doing really amazing things with discipleship and family worship and what it really means to be the church from Acts chapter two, which is breaking bread in your homes, fellowship, the apostles teaching."


Tommy Rosson:

It's Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds, today we're joined by Brandon Lackey of Bayou City Fellowship, and he's going to talk a little bit about what they have been doing and what response look like in this time of COVID-19. Brandon, thank you for joining us.

Brandon Lackey:

Yeah, glad to be here.

Tommy Rosson:

So talk to me a little bit about what it looks like to be a church in this time. What were the immediate changes that your church made?

Brandon Lackey:

Three weeks ago maybe we were really looking at this thing coming and praying a lot about what it looked like for us to be Bayou City in the city and serve the city in the way that we have served the city in the past. And then also what's the most loving thing to do in that moment. And whereas with hurricane Harvey, we very immediately got into action in terms of service. We were just really praying about what is the most loving thing? Because it's such a different scenario here when you're trying not to gather people up when you're not trying to have a thousand people in a warehouse who are sent out to muck out homes, but you know, really being encouraged by our healthcare worker members to stay home. What's it look like for us to be the church and serve and love the city.

And we just began to believe pretty early on that to love the city most was to just to stay home was to not gather in groups of more than 50, like we were being appealed to. And so it would not be loving for us to do that anyway. So we decided pretty early on that we were going to go online. We went online in a way that really reflected kind of who we are. We just decided we were gonna really shift to more of a house church feel. So we decided we did not want to create an experience for people that made it seem like there was a big worship center with nobody there. But we wanted to feel like our homes cause we're in our homes. And so we began pre-recording those services. And we did it in a small recording studio that looks a little bit like a living room with three worship leaders.

Our pastor Curtis, who who taught and is teaching every week in that environment. And then we stream it. Actually we're streaming it live on Sundays at 10, and we are not doing it on demand. We're streaming it live because we really want the church to gather in homes at that time. And so we're incorporating all kinds of new things into that every week. This last week we did communion. So we had people prepare before the service. They knew that they were going to need to have the juice and the bread available. And then the teaching is much less like preaching. Our pastor is teaching, but he is also having us pause the video for conversation and for prayer. So that was a new thing this week. And then we always have a prayer time at the end of our services where people can come down and pray with and be prayed over.

And so this week we are exploring doing kind of a phone bank prayer time where people can call a number at the end and our prayer team will be available to pray with them. So I think I heard pastor Curtis say yesterday, he's really wondering about what it would look like if we were to have started Bayou City Fellowship today, would it have been a completely online experience. Right. And so what kind of, what is Bayou City look like online? because that may be the situation for us for awhile. What we're experiencing really is it, God is doing really amazing things with discipleship and family worship and what it really means to be the church from Acts chapter two, which is breaking bread in your homes, fellowship, the apostles teaching, all that stuff was happening and in the new Testament, early church and homes. And so we know that the church gathers in homes. And so that's really where we're gathering now and assembling together. And then our community groups have shifted to all online. They're meeting every week by Zoom and I am indiscriminately giving out a Zoom accounts, Zoom licenses to community group leaders and to our marriage mentoring leaders and to our staff right now. So really if you think about how our costs have shifted, they've shifted more towards technology and production, things like that and away from large Sunday gatherings.

Tommy Rosson:

So that's great. And Brandon is the executive pastor there at Bayou City. I know that part of your DNA of the church and the DNA that you try to drive is just engagement in the community. And so obviously engaged in the community, it looks very different during this time. How is Bayou City addressing that?

Brandon Lackey:

Yeah, so first it was the loving thing is to not gather in large groups, and then it was what would it look like to, what are they going to be the greatest needs in the city if this continues to advance? And so we knew that food support, food scarcity, was gonna be the biggest need and the most vulnerable people are probably going to be hungry in this moment. And so if they have lost their part-time hourly job, they're not getting paid, which means they can't pay rent and maybe the government is going to help a little bit with that. Ultimately, we know that in the short term they may not have food because they can't buy it and you still have to be able to buy it. And so we really have pressed started pressing in on that.

So each of our campuses has a partnership with a local provider of meals. So in Cypress it's Cy Fair Helping Hands in a Tomball, it's Team Ministries. And then in Spring Branch where I'm helping with Houston Food Bank and, and others. And so volunteering and then also providing funds and donations to those food pantries and Memorial Assistance Ministries, you know, those local ones to our campuses is really a focus for us right now. Then healthcare professionals, we have quite a few healthcare professionals who work in the medical center and, you know, we know that they're stressed and they're working long hours. And so we're doing two things with them. One thing we're doing is we are having people adopt a healthcare worker. So you can sign up on our website, you can say, yeah, I'm a healthcare worker and we have our people adopting them.

So pray for them every day, reached out to them and encourage them. And I'll also send a meal once a week or do something to really serve them. So that's one aspect of what we're doing. We're also making personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. There's a real shortage of masks and scrub caps and while it'd be ideal to be able to get the certified ones. Our healthcare workers in ER, especially at Ben Taub and other places in the medical center say they're in short supply, so they're already rationing personal protective equipment and using homemade things. And so we're going to make the homemade things in a way that they've directed us to. So we launched a Facebook page last night that is PPE for Houston Healthcare Workers, and we're having our people who can so begin to do that, deliver them to our campuses, and then we're going to get them down there to the medical professionals.

So a couple of things we're doing in that regard are to really figure out how we serve in love in the city.

Tommy Rosson:

Yeah, that's great. Thank you so much for joining us and I look forward to finding out more about how these things are going.

Brandon Lackey:

Yeah. Thanks Tommy.