CURRENT PRIORITIES (3.20.20)
Dear Grace Church Family,
As we awaken to the reality of our entire state being called to shelter at home, let’s remind ourselves of this vital truth from Psalm 46.1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” With that reality filling our minds and hearts, we respond with the psalmist in verse 2, “Therefore we will not fear…”
We promised you an update today about how we intend to proceed as a church community in this time of uncertainty and (at least in our lifetimes) unprecedented experiences. Here are the FIVE MAIN PRIORITIES we see for us pastorally and as a church:
- establish worship services (online)
- establish community (online)
- establish care
- provide for practical needs
- engage our community
Here’s an explanation of those five priorities in more detail:
- Establish Worship Services
Beginning this week we will upload a weekly online worship service video for you on YouTube. It will have important announcements and a sermon from God’s word. This week we will also have some songs recorded as part of that video to encourage you. We are learning and experimenting on this front; thank you for being patient!
We will let you know when that video is uploaded, and how to access it (you will receive a text from us like you did today). Watch that video, sing along, and allow the word of God to minister to you as it is preached. Now, more than ever, those means of engaging with God and receiving from God are vital for our souls! Follow-up thoughts and resources related to the sermon will be put on our church blog.
- Establish Community
We are getting our Home Groups up and running through virtual means. Each Home Group leader is establishing a Zoom account for video conferencing. It’s not the same as meeting in-person, but right now it’s the next best thing. You will be hearing from your Home Group leader about joining a Zoom Home Group meeting very soon.
NOTE: If you are not connected with a Home Group right now, please contact one of the Home Group leaders (their names are listed at the bottom of this letter). It is an important time to be connected together as much as we possibly can.
We are also establishing our Prayer Meetings through the Zoom platform. In fact, we plan to add an additional prayer meeting during the week. Praying together directs our hearts and minds to God, it helps us find refuge in God in a tangible way, it connects us in fellowship with one another, and – most of all – our God is a prayer-hearing God! For all those reasons, join us in a virtual prayer meeting. Look for updates about when they will take place.
In addition, the Women’s Bible Study is seeking to migrate to a Zoom platform; look for information about that. If the Men’s Bible Study is able to meet virtually, we will let you know that as well.
- Establish Care
As elders, we are going to contact each of our members (and regular attenders) with a personal phone call over the next couple of weeks. We recognize that the spiritual and emotional impacts of COVID-19 are very real. During this extraordinary time, the earnest desire of your pastors remains to “…care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20.28)!
As elders, we will seek to stay connected with each of you via a periodic phone call throughout this time of crisis. However, if you need any assistance, counsel, or care, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our staff pastors are easily reached via email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to call us on our cell phones at any time as well.
- Provide for Practical Needs
Not only are the spiritual and emotional impacts of COVID-19 real, the practical impacts are just as real. We know there will be needs for shopping (for shut-in members) and for benevolence support. This presents us with an opportunity to immediately apply 1 John 3:18, “…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
We expect that those practical needs will emerge through our Home Groups, so don’t hesitate to raise those needs within your groups. We also want you to contact us directly about those practical needs (you can email Tiffanie; she will help us track those needs to make sure they are being met as best we can.)
In terms of meeting the financial needs of our members as they arise, we do have a benevolence fund that you can give directly toward. I want to stress the importance of continuing your regular giving (online or regular mail), as an expression of your worship to God – and your support of the ongoing ministry of the gospel. But, in addition to your tithes and regular offerings, we anticipate a heightened importance of our benevolence fund in the weeks and months ahead. Please consider giving to that fund to help meet the financial needs in our midst. Thank you!
- Serve Our Community
While we emphatically agree with and urge everyone to fully comply with our governor’s order to stay at home, there may be an opportunity to help Bridge of Hope as a local food bank. We will let you know if an opportunity to love our neighbors through our ministry partner is open to us. But, again, stay at home out of love for neighbor too!
There are also unique opportunities to show the love of Christ to your neighbors all around you. Right now we all share in a very difficult time together, yet you can bring hope and help through the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you take a walk around your neighborhood, look for opportunities (at appropriate social distances) to extend practical care, prayer, and good news. God may open a door for the word; let’s pray for that (Colossians 4.3)!
To reiterate: your pastors are available to serve you, and – even more importantly – your God is with you in Christ Jesus as our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He will be caring for us all through this difficult time.
We love you and are trusting God with you,
The Elders of Grace Church
PS – Our Home Group leaders are as follows (contact information can be found on our directory):
- Steve and Sharon Farrington
- Eric and Sheryl Lehmkuhl
- Tim and Linda Liddell
- Joshua and Dona Morgan
- Rick and Margie Padelford
- Tab and Sung Trainor