In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world
To our GCC Family:
We will have tribulation. Jesus told his disciples more than two thousand years ago, and in those millennia, his words have proved to be true. Yet, through this same time, God's people have not lost heart. We have not lost a reason to be joyful. We have not lost hope. The reason is that Christ has overcome the world.
We serve a risen Savior, who, after rising from the dead and appearing before his disciples, triumphantly declared "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:18b) He has risen victorious; he has ascended to the Father and sits at the right hand of the Father where He makes intercession on behalf of the saints. We have trouble, yes. But, that trouble cannot silence the joyful proclamation of hope which is ours in Christ. In these coming days ahead, it is vitally important that is ever before us, leading us, comforting us, and restoring our weary souls. There are so many changes that are swirling around us, but our hope is the same victory which has enabled the saints throughout history to hold fast to the faith.
The biggest challenge we are encountering as a local body of believers is how do we continue to be connected as believers during a pandemic, when the most loving and kind posture for us is to embrace social distancing. How do we embrace the Great Commission of making disciples when we are effectively in personal isolation for the good of the community? This is a challenge we as a staff and elders have spent a significant amount of time prayerfully discussing, seeking wisdom from God through scripture and guidance from His Spirit. The following is a summary of our unified conclusions.
First, to fully to fully support the federal and local government recommendations, we are moving to a completely online presence for all gatherings. That means our worship service on Sunday will be online only with no public gatherings for the foreseeable future. All upcoming church functions and events are postponed until further notice. That includes, but is not limited to, the date night ministry, our missions conference, our men's ministry retreat, and our women's ministry retreat. We are also asking that all covenant groups (small groups) postpone all physical meeting until further notice. There will be no physical gatherings of any kind through the ministry of Grace Covenant Church.
While we are not able to meet physically, we will be providing multiple venues and resources to enable us to stay connected as a local manifestation of the Body of Christ. We will live-stream our services on both Facebook and You Tube at our normal worship time of 10:45 am on Sunday mornings. We are adjusting the format of the service to make it more conducive to an online experience for all ages and are adding elements to the service to help us stay connected to one another as families united in Christ but separated by location. An online experience will always be inferior to physical worship with fellow believers. But, we are doing everything we can to provide a truly corporate worship experience.
We will have the sermon and the non-music portions of the service posted to our website. But I strongly encourage you to set aside the time with your family during the normal worship schedule of 10:45 am. Rhythm is very important in our spiritual lives. It is far more significant to gather and worship at the same time, singing and praying, as your brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of the accessibility of online sermons, it would be very easy for families to get out of the rhythm of weekly worship. We would urge you to see the value of consistency and of corporate gatherings for us individually and as families and the opportunity to join with other believers in worship.
During this pandemic, God has stripped us of many of our idols. How often have we complained that the busyness of life, our family social activities, our kid's school activities, our extra work responsibilities, our hobbies, etc., have robbed us of time to be still, to eat meals as a family, to read edifying books, to spend more time in prayer and in Bible study? Don't wast this opportunity to grow as a family and disciple as God forces us to slow down, to be still and know that he is God.
This stillness has created a vacuum. How will that vacuum be filled in your home? Will it be with endless hours of binge-watching Netflix? Will it be spent with hours upon hours of media coverage over the pandemic? Will your kids remember the pandemic on 2020 as a time when your family came together or the time when their parent's were obsessing over social media?
Now, having fun and getting much-needed rest is a wonderful thing. But, also use this as an opportunity to grow in your prayer life. Learn to sit and have a long, uninterrupted home cooked meal as a family. Learn how to do a consistent family devotion time. Have a long, unrushed phone call with someone from the church. Read an edifying spiritual formation book. Begin a scripture memorization plan. Pray for your lost neighbor across the street. Sound daunting? Unsure where to begin? Don't worry, start slow. It's about direction, not speed. We are here to help.
Our staff at GCC are working hard to create and gather resources that we can use to help us with this opportunity for spiritual growth. These will be resources designed to help us have family devotionals, grow in spiritual disciplines and keep our eyes on Christ.
God is at work. Christ is the author and the perfecter of our Faith, and we can trust him to guide us through this crisis and into deeper waters of love for His glory and our communities.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Beau, and the Elders at Grace Covenant Church