In 2020 alone, Cru Singapore has organized an unprecedented 10 conference or event series, with 40 online gatherings and a combined attendance of over 6500 participants. This feat started with the Conference Team’s calculated move to shift two pre-planned physical conferences—UNVEIL for youth, and Collab2Reach for ministry and youth pastors, leaders and workers—online.
David Mak, former Conference Team Leader, shared, “As the Covid-19 situation worsened in February, it boiled down to one question, ‘If the content that we're presenting to the local churches is critical and vital—which rules out cancelling the event totally—what can I do to reach more?’ So, we made the decision to swerve into the digital space.”
Describing how it was like rolling out two conferences as year-long online series instead, current Conference Team Leader, Maggie Tan, added, “We felt like this was a God-ordained moment and wanted to seize the opportunity to reach and engage even more believers online. Despite the loose ends we had to tie up—getting buy-ins from speakers, searching for emcees, arranging venues, and learning how to live-stream—we saw God move through this and are grateful to be part of it.”
The 3rd webinar of Covid-19 Conversations series: Dealing With Temptations (Porn on the Internet)
Opening doors during lockdown
As the nation went into lockdown in April, Singaporeans faced a new set of adjustments—being cooped up 24/7, drawing new boundaries between work and home and managing increasingly different family dynamics.
“During Circuit Breaker, we were hearing news of youths falling prey to gaming and pornography addictions, and an increase in mental health issues. It ended up working well that we spread out both conferences over the months to be able to more meaningfully engage the youth and equip the leaders throughout the Circuit Breaker,” Maggie recounted.
“We saw this transition as a season of discipleship for all of us. We thought it was important to offer good content for believers and, at the time, not many other churches or organisations were providing material yet. Honestly, we had no ideas for any series in mind. We just wanted to plug a gap and support believers in their faith through this difficult time,” she continued.
It was through this consideration that the Covid-19 Conversations and #NTEx (New Testament Explorations) webinar series came about. David explained, “It started with a suggestion by a senior Cru staff to hold 60-75 minute webinars that might help people through this time. The positive response to our initial episodes was a surprise and showed us there was a real need and motivated us to do more.”
Overcoming fear, stepping out in faith
Recalling the first webinar, Covid-19 Conversations: The Christian Response to the Public Health Crisis, Maggie said, “It was nerve-wrecking, no one had done it before or attended any zoom webinars then. We were worried about potential technical issues, but God blew our minds. All our participants were so patient as we tried out different sign-up methods and learnt to respond on-the-go. This webinar saw one of our largest turnouts with 360 participants.”
David laughed, “This digital transition was truly undertaken by faith as none of us are ‘techies’. However, thanks to the support of our tech-savvy friends, we pulled through a steep learning curve.”
As webinars became the norm, the team took on a range of topics and engaged experienced speakers to meet different needs and speak into prevalent issues.
Covid-19 Conversations saw speakers and organisations such as Josh McDowell and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) tackle topics such as dealing with temptations while staying home and how to find peace amid uncertainty, respectively. In preparation for school to start, the team collaborated with RZIM for ‘ReFresh: Ready for Uni’, a 3-day online conference for students to learn about abiding in Christ.
The 2nd webinar in the series, #AskMeAnything: Cancel Culture
Trusting God and touching lives
Despite challenges and uncertainty, it was encouraging to see hearts and lives encounter Jesus. “One of the most encouraging testimonies came from Austria. Angie attended the #NTEx series just as she started a discipleship group with youth from all over Europe. She thanked us for making the teachings accessible and how it has been such a blessing to her group and believers in Europe,” Maggie described.
“To see God move and touch lives like that made everything worth it,” she continued with a smile.
“Even though this year threw us a curveball, it has taught me to never look down on small beginnings and trust God to reach more and disciple better in this digital era. No matter the situation, He is able to help us grow and fulfil His purposes through us,” David concluded.
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