We know that many of you are eager to resume church. And praise God for that! But we want to do so wisely and carefully, as you are not just the most important element of the church, you are the church!
So, after much thought and prayer, our plan is to start in-person services on May 24. Frankly, this gives us about two more weeks to see how this plays out for others. It’s like Myles has told us GMI Pastors for many years, “In the church world, those who always want to be on the cutting edge are the ones who probably won’t be around for long.” That’s because the cutting edge is also the bleeding edge. So the truly smart ones are in the second wave, where they can make adjustments and get all the benefits without the loss.
We want to extremely clear on this. If you are not comfortable coming to church at this time, please stay home and continue to watch the service online! If you are immune-compromised or have anyone in your home that is, please stay home and continue to watch the service online! If you are 70 and over, please stay home and continue to watch the service online! If you are in your 60’s, we encourage you to prayerfully consider staying home and watching the service online! We don’t want any of our members to feel pressured in any way to attend services. We are simply offering the option to do so. We will record our sermons each week and post them on our Facebook, church app, and also our website.
In the Governor’s guidelines, there is no restriction on the total number of people present. Instead, social distancing is the only guideline regarding numbers. The elders and I have taken every precaution to make sure everyone feels safe and respected at this time. Since family units can be 1 in some cases and 8 in others, and since that requires us to set up the chairs differently, we will have your Life Group leader reach out to you to confirm your attendance at church. That way we know what to expect for setting out the correct number of chairs.
We will have Nursery as normal for our church service. Some of you, at this point in time, may have concerns about allowing your child to participate in this. If so, please feel free to keep them with you during the message. Again, as I said above, we don’t want you to do anything that you’re uncomfortable with. We are merely creating options for those who want them.
I hope this is good news to all of you. I have to say, I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of this church family. You’ve continued to love and give and serve and encourage and grow. Our buildings certainly help facilitate the flow of ministry, and they help the growth – both spiritual & numeric. But they aren’t the ministry or the growth. And they don’t define us.
I am hopeful that every one of you is healthy and taking advantage of the unexpected time at home with family as we follow orders put in place for us here. I know some of you reading this are first responders serving people in our communities battling COVID-19. Your Pastors and Elders are praying daily for the health and safety of each member of our church family, especially those on the front lines.
As you are aware, Hays County issued a shelter-in-place order from March 26-April 10, mandating citizens to stay home and only leave for essential activities, or provide essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses. Yesterday, The White House announced social distancing guidelines will now extend through April 30, urging the public to maintain a distance of 6 feet and refrain from meeting in groups of more than 10. In Titus 3:1 the apostle Paul tells Titus, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” So unless it’s something that contradicts the word and will of God, then we should obey it. And we will.
Church events are canceled for the month of April. We will continue meeting virtually for Life Group, Youth, Kingdom Kids, and Sunday services, including Easter Sunday. We will live stream our Easter service on April 12. Even in the midst of such an unusual and sobering reality, God is moving. So do not rescind those Easter invitations just yet! Invite your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to virtual church. It might be exactly what they need right now. Our live stream this past Sunday was watched by over 330 households. Please note that’s not total people; that’s households. And that’s people who actually clicked on the link and watched. We put it up on Facebook, Vimeo, and our website. And we will continue to do so through the month of April. Ryan and Kate have been working to bring worship into your homes on Sunday mornings. This coming Sunday, we are excited to announce our live stream will begin with worship. Our hope is that each of you will take this opportunity to worship in your home with your family.
As hard as it is to not have our usual Sunday mornings and our Wednesday nights at our building, the church is not a building. We should never feel that we are confined to only meet as a church in the building. However, we need to be reminded that we are The Church and we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus everywhere, even in quarantine.
Through all of this, you are never alone and you are never forgotten. Not by Jesus, and not by your Pastors and Elders. One truth I have been clinging to lately is from John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus himself said we would have trouble, but that we don’t need to worry because he has already overcome it. Today, make this your prayer; that Jesus has overcome ALL things, including COVID-19, and He is on your side. I pray this peace will flow over you today and you can take heart in the very words of Jesus.
I love you and I pray God’s blessings over you and your family.
In Titus 3:1 the apostle Paul tells Titus, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” So unless it’s something that contradicts the word & will of God, then we should obey it. And we will.
For the next two weeks, we are canceling all church events. This includes Life Groups, Youth Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and Sunday services.
We will have our Sunday sermon sent out as we did this week via Facebook, email and the church app. We will not have worship recorded, but I would encourage your family to find a few worship songs or videos of your favorite selections and spend time together worshipping on Sunday morning.
This past Sunday’s video was seen by close to 50 households! We put it up on Vimeo, Facebook, and the church app. And we will do the same again these next two weeks. So, yes, it’s an unusual time (and for some, a stressful time), but in the midst of it, God is opening doors for us into the lives of many beyond our immediate circles!
We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated. In the meantime, hold onto the following verse, and pray it over yourself and your family. And please pray it over every member of this church family.
Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
P.S. Please let the staff know if there is anyone who is sick or anyone in need. We are here, and we always love the opportunity to serve you.
Like most of you, we are closely monitoring the developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19). in regards to this Sunday, your Pastors and Elders have made the decision to be proactive in an effort to be protective of all of our families at GCF Hays and not hold church at our normal time and place. We will, however, be recording Sunday’s message and sending out a link for you to view the sermon.
In light of what’s going on with the spread of this virus, I believe it’s a good time for us as a church family to review a few things.
Some of you might be aware of the procedures we go through each week, to ensure that you and your family are in a clean and safe environment. Others of you may not realize what we do. So I’d like to highlight for you the things we do here at GCF – things which are well beyond what many churches do.
· Every week, The Lodge venue is thoroughly cleaned. This includes bathrooms and the kitchen as well.
· After every Sunday & Wednesday, our children’s classroom, the nursery, and every bathroom are sprayed with disinfectant and thoroughly cleaned.
· After every Sunday & Wednesday, every toy in the nursery is individually wiped down with disinfectant.
The health and safety of our members is the most important thing to us. And as you can see, this is much more than talk with us. From ensuring members of our Security Team are present at services each week to making sure your church facilities are at the highest levels of cleanliness, we put you first.
We are one of the friendliest and most engaging churches around. So, when we get together, there are lots of handshakes and hugs. Even with this wonderful atmosphere of love for one another, we always want to be considerate of the level of contact others are comfortable with. And with the present concerns, this should be even more of a consideration.
Health officials recommend that instead of shaking hands, to at most, giving a fist bump. Many are simply smiling and saying “hello”. We are all different, and those differences include varying degrees of comfort on issues like this. Let’s be respectful of each and be wise in following the advice of the medical professionals.
SUNDAY’S MESSAGE WILL BE RECORDED
The coronavirus is particularly serious for senior adults, toddlers and those with immune deficiencies. The most prudent thing to do for those in these groups in this season would be to avoid contact with too many people outside of their immediate family, close friends, and caregivers.
There are others outside of these two groups who may want to take extra measures of caution, and therefore, want to avoid any larger gathering of people.
Thankfully, we have the video production available to record and post the Sunday sermon for you to view. You will receive a follow-up email and notification through the GCF Hays app on where to go for the link.
During times when those around us are losing their heads, Christians should stand out in stark contrast. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound mind.” As mature Christians, we are not to be driven by fear but led by wisdom.
In other words, there’s a reason that God has given you a brain – one that you have filled with wisdom (as you’ve studied & learned from good sources, especially His word). St. Augustine said it this way: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
In this current situation, we should be both wise and calm. And it’s in times like these that I am even more grateful for the love, the support, and the prayers of this wonderful church family.
As always, your Pastoral staff, Elders, and Life Group Leaders are here to serve and help you in any way we can.