One Service at 10:00a on January 1.

March 18, 2020

Dear CrossWay Family,  

This is the second in what I suspect will be a series of emails that I will send over the coming weeks.  I know we all are doing our best to keep track of the government recommendations as new information comes in on the extent of the impact of this Coronavirus.  We want to keep you very current on what we are doing as a church during these days.

Our Communication Plan
There will be three major lines of communication.  First, a weekly email in which I’ll keep you up-to-date on our status as a church and share with you, as your pastor, some thoughts about how we should be as a church during this time.  That email will be sent out mid-week.  Second, we will continue to send out a weekly email on Fridays, as we have in the past, that will contain more specific church-life information.  Third, we will have some form of a message from God’s Word, like the video we posted this past weekend.  We may add some other worship components to that to help you as you gather as families or in small groups of friends to maintain a rhythm of regular worship.  We will post that on the website, typically on Saturday, but at least by Sunday mornings at 10:00.  Other areas of ministry—youth, children’s, Age of Opportunity, Thrive—will be communicating along their regular lines.

Our Current Cancellation Plan
We are wanting to cooperate to the fullest extent with our government’s recommendations regarding public gatherings.  This past week the CDC extended its restrictions on public gatherings out to the next eight weeks.  In light of that we have decided, for now, to cancel our services and all church meetings through the end of April.  We will know much more at that point and can extend that time appropriately as needed.  We can also adjust along the way if there is some possibility of regathering sooner.  We could potentially make this a week-by-week decision but we believe it will help us all to adjust to this new norm and enter more readily into a new rhythm if we have a plan for a set of weeks.  We also want to be wise and heed good counsel from our government in doing everything we can to help protect our community and so want to pay close attention to the timeline they are setting forth.

The Challenge and Sadness of This Time
I know I am expressing the thoughts of us all when I say there is something sad and disappointing about not being able to gather together as we normally do.  We sense the loss of something that is normal and fruitful in our lives.  Our gatherings are a means of strengthening our faith.  We are upheld by these regular rhythms of being together and we are more vulnerable without them.  At CrossWay we regularly teach from God’s Word on the importance of our gathering together, but we see the truth of that, at least a bit more clearly, when we don’t have it and we are feeling a longing for it to be restored.  I’m already looking forward to the Sunday when we can be together again.  I think that will be a special day of celebration and joy.  I’m guessing you’re feeling that way too.  Let’s let this situation sharpen our appreciation for our times together and let’s let this teach us not to take our times together for granted.  And let’s pray that God would restore our gatherings soon.

The Opportunity of This Time
In the meantime, let’s not miss the opportunity this strange and unusual time affords.  I really want to encourage you to pay attention to what doors might be opening here.  I think the clearest and most urgent thing I want to say to you right now is this:  Be aware of the temptation to spiritually just drift or coast during this time and, instead, purpose to engage.

Engage in more intentional connection with God.

Read your Bible quietly, prayerfully, daily.  Spend time in prayer, perhaps in a newly focused way.  Use this as a time of spiritual refreshment, of slowing down, of resting.  Our days are typically so filled with projects and meetings and tasks to be done, that we can lose ourselves in the midst of our busy lives.  Take advantage of this time to refresh your life in God.

Engage in more intentional connection as a family.  

Don’t just go off each to your own rooms and just do your own thing.  Purpose to make time and space to be together.  Parents, draw your children in.  Children, draw your parents in.   Put real boundaries on technology use.  Spending too much time on screens could be a real temptation these days.  Instead, think about the kinds of things you can do now that you have more time together.  Simply put, be attentive to one another in your homes.

Engage with your church family.  

Obviously this will be more challenging but there will be wonderful opportunities to encourage one another these days. We are encouraging all Gospel Communities to meet virtually. In addition, rediscover the power of a phone call and experience the joy of hearing someone else’s voice.  Think about those who might have special needs created by this situation we’re in.  We’ve already had many people inquiring of us how they can be of help.  That’s great.  But don’t be afraid to contact people who you know who might have needs.  Think particularly of the elderly, those who have health needs, and those whose jobs have been affected.

Engage with your neighbors.

Obviously there are limits here and we want to honor what is being recommended about social distancing.  But we also want to be light in the darkness and salt in a time of need.  People are afraid.  Point them to Jesus.  People have needs.  Meet them when you can.  Be ready with hope and with sacrificial love.

Dear ones, our tendency could easily be toward isolation, self-absorption, and fear.  Let’s instead make it a point to engage.  Let’s move toward connection, refreshment, and sacrificial love.  I have no doubt that God has something good for us during this time.  What his larger purposes are for these days I don’t pretend to know, but I do know that he has promised good for his people, in all things, based on his unfailing steadfast love.  “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

A Few Miscellaneous Details
We will keep the church office open although we are trying to minimize traffic in the office.  There will be pastors and office administrators here for phone calls and for necessary meetings.  Some pastors will be working, when they can, from home.  If you have practical needs please contact the church office.  Don’t hesitate to do that.
Look for a video posted on the website this weekend.   I’ll be sharing from another Psalm.  I thought it would be good for us these days to look at some Psalms to steady our hearts.  I’d encourage you to gather as a family Sunday morning around 10:00.  Watch the video and then spend some time praying.

With much love,

Pastor Mike (for the elders and pastors)

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