Ministry During COVID-19

The past few weeks have been a trying time in both life and ministry. WIth the growing fear of COVID-19 virus, we have all had to adjust to a “new normal.” Nothing about this has been easy. I want to share some encouragement in light of what is happening around us. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1–2)

As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate God’s love to those around us. The world has drastically changed. While I personally am not fearful of what is happening and fully trust that God is in control, there are millions of people who are currently living in fear. I believe that meeting last Sunday together was our act of faith showing that we fully believe that God is in control. I believe that we are called to not live in fear of what is happening around us. We serve a God that is above all things including COVID-19. That being said, I also believe that we need to be mindful of what is going on around us. People are living in fear. I believe that most of the fear is centered on the fact that food, toilet paper, etc. are disappearing from shelves at grocery stores. While we should not be living in fear, I also believe that we should also respect earthly authorities. The recommendations from ADHS and the federal government have been put in place to help protect us from further outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. I believe that we should heed their warnings not because of fear but because God has ordained these leaders. 

But now is the time we as a church need to show love for our fellow man. I believe that loving our fellow man means we do our very best to ensure the health and safety of our families, friends, and neighbors. Yesterday afternoon (March 17) the Arizona Department of Health Services made the recommendation for all mass gatherings of 10 or more people to be cancelled or postponed. I believe that we should respect those that God has placed in authority over us and follow their guidelines as best as we can. By doing so, I believe that we show our community that we care for them. That does not mean we simply hide away in our homes and stop ministering to others! It does mean that ministry for the coming weeks may look very different.

In light of the updated ADHS recommendations, I propose the following for us as a church for the next two weeks:

  • The following ministries will be cancelled until further notice:
      • Church in the Park, Tuesday Night Youth Group, Adult Choir, and Tuesday morning Women’s Bible Study have all been cancelled for the time being.
  • The following ministries will continue as is or with some changes:
      • Celebrate Recovery (via livestreaming), Aspen Ridge, REACH Groups, Monday night Bible Study, and Saturday Prayer will continue.
  • I encourage all small group Bible studies to meet both on campus and off campus as each group determines to continue meeting. These groups are the life blood for fellowship, accountability, and spiritual growth of our members. I will work on finding a study that the entire church can go through together over this time to foster unity.
  • Families of children will receive options for ministry to their children. Sylvia is working on gathering copies of the Bible studies for the next two of weeks. These lessons will be mailed/emailed to families. We will also offer families an online Bible study that Lifeway is providing churches for free.
  • Sunday morning worship services will be canceled for the next two weeks. We will livestream the 10:55am service with the Praise Team leading music and myself preaching. It will be to an empty sanctuary. It will be available at watch live or throughout the rest of the day on our church’s website and church app.
  • Deacons be available on Sunday morning for prayer with any of our members that choose to come to the campus for prayer. We will have rooms set up where people can come to pray. I would like to have deacons throughout our campus in various classrooms to pray to ensure any group that prays is under the recommended 10 people.
  • We will be strongly encouraging everyone to give online. For those that are not comfortable giving online, we will ask them to mail in their tithes/offerings. The office will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays each week to ensure operations continue to run but will close for the remainder of the week until the recommendations are lifted.

Our hope is that the recommended social distancing will be over before Palm Sunday (April 5). I will plan on addressing the church the week leading up to Palm Sunday to inform what ongoing plans will be moving forward.

The decision to implement these changes to what we normally was a difficult one in which I have struggled with for the past week. I have spent much time in prayer, communication with other pastors and church leaders, and agonizing over how our church should respond. This I know for sure — God is still on His throne and is in control of everything that is happening! Join with me as we seek to minister in different ways carrying the gospel to those around us. Let’s show the world we love them and care for them!

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