March 25, 2020
6 Things We Did Immediately Because of COVID-19
These are challenging time for us. But what does that mean specifically? Here are six very specific leadership steps we have taken:
- We honored the community call to action. When the call came from government and health officials to limit large gatherings, we heeded that call. We canceled our physical gathering as a matter of loving our neighbors.
- We are reaching to our mission partners. One of the first things we did was to reach out to assess needs and to determine how we could help. Every church, large or small, not only has resources to give but also a heart to do so.
- We changed our Sunday series. We were in the midst of a series titled “Fully You” focused on getting a clear view into the true you. To continue with that series, important as the topic was, would have been culturally tone deaf. We kept the title and general focus, but we changed the application focus to “faith” and moving through the current crisis.
- We moved everything online. Churches everywhere are doing what it takes to try to have some kind of online weekend presence for their services. We have gone into full online mode for… well, everything. Every week, we are sending out videos, experiences and online events for the various age groups within our children’s ministry. We are now looking to online interactive events and experiences are happening within our middle school and high school ministries as well. The Foundry is using Zoom to continue offering current classes as well as launch new ones. Our online campus is looking to amplified staff presence in the chat room, prayer request service and more.
- We re-tasked staff and volunteers. When you cancel weekend services for the foreseeable future and go entirely online, you have staff and volunteers who find themselves out of a job. Think facilities teams, Guest Services, children’s ministry, and more. Many can simply retool—as I mentioned, our children’s ministry is doing this by developing online resources that can be used by families at home. But some staff and volunteers must be re-tasked to serve points of greatest need. In an “all-hands-on-deck” situation, where you previously put the hands often changes. (Please let us know if you can assist us.) We identified four key areas of need:
- staffing/serving the online campus;
- social media production and responding / monitoring;
- video/curriculum development and production for online consumption;
- and personal community engagement (via phone/email).
- We outlined potential stages. Fear and anxiety is usually based on the unknown. For that reason, we outlined to our staff the “stages” we felt could be in front of us and what each stage would mean. Here is what we outlined:
All of this flows from two big ideas: 1) we want to do everything we can to serve people during this time; and 2) we want to do everything we can to keep people engaged as a community of faith.
Not from a position of fear, much less worry, but from a position of faith that prays for wisdom.
March 17, 2020
To the South Reno Family:
We are called by God to treat others as we would want to be treated and to serve and love those around us. While most of us are not at serious risk from COVID-19, we have many in our community who are—namely the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. If the spread of the virus is not quickly contained, not only will it put many we know and love in danger, but our medical system will be overwhelmed and unable to serve the vulnerable in need.
To provide the necessary social distancing for the spread of this virus to slow, the Washoe County Health District has asked the following:
- For 15 Days starting 3/16 – all events or gatherings of 10 or more people are to be canceled or postponed.
- For eight weeks starting 3/16 – all events or gathering of 50 or more people are to canceled or postponed.
As you know, our Sunday gatherings and many, if not all, of our smaller groups and events exceed one of both of these limits.
As a result, we will be canceling all on-site Sunday services and offering all of our Sunday services exclusively through our Online Campus, starting March 22. (We expect to provide on-site Sunday services again beginning Sunday, April 19.) Also, through Tuesday, this same timeline, all weekday and weeknight classes and events will be canceled, postponed, or go online. (The Church Office will remain open throughout this time.) We believe this action to be the most caring and loving response we can make for our community.
But just because we’re taking a break from physically gathering together doesn’t mean we’re taking a break! Through our Online Campus, you will be able to experience a full service. You will be able to give online, interact with others as well as a pastor in the chat room, submit prayer requests, and more. So gather your family together and experience this Sunday’s service online.
I know that many of you are feeling anxious about the events of late. All of us should take appropriate caution, but as followers of Christ, we should never give in to fear—instead, we are to meet all things with faith. Many of you know that one of my great historical mentors and heroines is Corrie ten Boom. I am reminded again of these wise words she once offered: “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.” So reflect on the truth of these words from the Bible:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7, Msg)
We will continue to monitor this situation carefully and keep you abreast of any additional changes.
It’s a privilege to serve as your pastor.