The local governing authorities requested that no group over 10 people assemble for at least the next 8 weeks, which as you all know, drastically changes the plans and format of our faith community’s ministry. However, we as a staff find hopeful encouragement in the reminder that our mission and vision is not decimated by a change in “plans and format”. We will continue to equip people to know Jesus and make Him known, and our work will continue to be a disciple-making endeavor to the glory of God. Here is our plan:
1. Our Sunday morning gatherings will be online until further notice. The regular practice of gathering together for fellowship, singing, and hearing the Word of God proclaimed is a primary means that God uses to awaken, strengthen, and sustain faith amongst his people. While current circumstances prevent us from meeting in person, we have the common grace of technology that makes it possible to gather digitally. A full worship service will be streamed on Facebook and Youtube (via the church website) each Sunday at 10:00am until we are able to meet again.
2. At this point, all events will be cancelled and/or postponed until further notice. We cannot speak definitively as to when we will be able to reinstate our normal rhythms, but all women’s and men’s ministry events, children’s ministry events (such as the Palm Sunday egg hunt), and the annual Serve Jersey service day are cancelled or postponed.
3. Grace Groups will be encouraged to go digital, at the leader’s discretion. While we were hoping to encourage Grace Groups to continue to meet in person, it no longer seems like that will be feasible with the latest restrictions. Pastor Jeff will connect with leaders to offer training on digital video platforms, where groups can continue to connect.
4. Children and Youth Ministries will go digital. Meghan and Pastor Jeff have already been in touch with all parents of children and teens, respectively, about their digital ministry plan. While they will provide video-based content for children and youth, they will also (and primarily) seek to come alongside parents in equipping you to make the most of this time in discipling and edifying your kids in the Lord.
5. Pastoral Care and Counseling. Despite being unable to meet in person for now, Pastor Jeff and myself are more than willing to use various communication platforms to continue to provide ongoing care and counseling, whether it be via email, phone, or video chat. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us or Mary via the office email to set up a time.
6. Digital Content, Old and New. We will continue to utilize the same digital platforms we always have to provide content that equips and encourages you throughout the week, like the Grace Church App, the weekly Grace Blog, Facebook, and Instagram. And we will be rolling out new digital platforms to expand our ability to connect with one another, including a private Facebook Group for members and attenders, a YouTube channel, and a brand new platform that will be announced later this week. Stay tuned in, literally!
7. Ongoing care and concern for one another. We are a faith community, a church family, and with that comes a culture of regularly contacting one another throughout the week. That is even more vital now that we will be physically apart, so be quick to contact one another in the church, even if it’s a simple note to check in and give a word of encouragement. What would it look like if every member contacted 3 other people in our faith community in some way, every single day?
8. Care for the community and those in need. I cannot repeat it enough, that while we would have never chosen to go through this as a church or society, we have an unprecedented opportunity to be the church to communities around us. Many of us are the only Christians on our block, or in our company, and this is our time to share the love of Christ through word AND deed. Be quick to offer to help others, and we’ll be in touch soon with ways we as a church can also come together to help in significant ways.
9. Commitment to fund operational and missions work, both locally and globally. We are not taking any breaks away from our normal operating and missions support, which helps to fund over 20 missions partners that are advancing the gospel locally, regionally, and globally. We will trust the Lord with our giving as a church, and so we encourage you to strive for faithfulness in your giving to the ministry of Grace as well. The easiest option will be to give online via PushPay (link at the bottom of this email), or mail a check to the church office.
We continue to pray that God would bring a quicker than anticipated ending to the threat of the Coronavirus, through wise decisions made by leaders and the nation alike, or his sovereign grace, or both! And of course, if any changes to the government’s recommendation are made to make it possible for us to gather again sooner than expected, we will do so as soon as we can.
Once again, while none of us would have “asked” for this, we trust that the Lord remains on His Throne, and I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing how HE works in and through the faith community of Grace Church to make Christ known, and glorify His name above all names. He is worthy, and He will continue to lead us in whatever format it requires.
In Christ,
Pastor Aaron