April 1, 2020
Good Afternoon Church!
Who would have thought that we would be celebrating Easter as the church in our homes this year!? Certainly not me! Such is life; sometimes God turns things in a different direction than we could ever expect or anticipate. I think of Joseph’s brothers; could any of them have anticipated that famine would drive them to beg for mercy at the very feet of the brother they sold into slavery? Probably not. Yet what they intended for evil, God turned into good, not just for Joseph but also for them! What a wonderful and gracious God we serve.
We want to explore our future plans with you today. We understand that in these days, plans are changing frequently and rapidly, but what we really want you to know is that we are here for you. Caring for each other looks different now than it did even just a few months ago. We are learning a new way to walk, a new method and mode of love. We are learning, now more clearly than perhaps ever before, that the church is the people, not a building. Friends, we are not a people contained within walls. We are a people unleashed, unchained and unhindered by gathering bans and social isolation orders. You have found each other in phone calls, emails, online meetings, social media connections and chat rooms. You have determined to love, live and lead for God’s glory, even though we cannot meet together. You have continued to grow in a greater love for God and a greater love for each other.
There are days when it gets lonely, times when it is hard to be isolated from each other. Anchor yourself in the truths of God, find yourself motivated by his Word and guided by the leading of his Spirit. Know that God is good. He is still unchanged, he has conquered COVID-19, and the place he has prepared for us is free from disease or death. This is our temporary rest stop before we arrive at our eternal and glorious home.
With those things being said, our Elders and Pastors have determined that we will continue to meet as the church outside of the walls of our building, through the month of April, unless our federal government changes the restrictions on gathering sizes beforehand.
In this season of uncertainty, we have worked hard to adapt the structures, systems and processes for our office and our staff. We have heard from many of you regarding changes to the nature and structure of your employment. Some have been laid-off, others temporarily furloughed, some have had hours and wages reduced. We are standing with you. As a sign of solidarity, our staff and pastors have also taken reductions to both wages and hours. These decisions were not made due to any financial crisis at CMBC; you have been amazing! We are so thankful for your faithful giving and stewardship in this season. Our weekly offerings have continued on as strong as ever! Be encouraged and be hopeful.
We are anticipating that as the gathering ban is lifted, it will be lifted incrementally, so we are making plans and provisions for how we might gather together as the bans are being lifted, those plans will be communicated as soon as we have concrete timelines and numbers from our government.
The ministry of CMBC remains strong. We are still supporting our global partners at this point with little change. We have moved from localized ministry in the building, to online and mobile ministry environments, and we want to share our weekly production schedule with you so you can see the great content that is accessible to you online.
- Sunday: (Sermons, Note Guides, Discussion Guides, the Weekly, ABF mobile lessons, Zoom Youth Meeting) The sermon will be uploaded for you by 8:00 pm on Saturday evening (both video and audio versions). Along with the sermon will be note guides for children and middle school aged students, note guides for adults, discussion guides, the sermon transcript and power-point slides. You will also find the weekly bulletin on our website with links to music either from our music ministry team or YouTube links with lyrics in the videos. The weekly can serve as your service structure outline as you worship with your family in your home. Our students will also meet on Sunday’s via Zoom Conferencing at 1:00 pm in the afternoon. This is for any student in 7th-12th grade and for the student ministry leaders. Some of our ABF leaders have also started to provide lessons via email to their classes.
- Monday: (Sermon Takeaway, Sunday Re-Cap Video) On Monday, you will find a sermon takeaway — a thought or question to ponder that relates to the sermon on Sunday morning. If you did not get a chance to complete your discussion guide or look up the supporting scriptures from Sunday’s sermon, you may want to utilize that material for your personal worship time on Monday. You will also find a Sunday morning re-cap on our social media sites. This will be a video produced here at the office recapping our time together on Sunday morning, with something fun sprinkled in.
- Tuesday: (Link Roundup, Social Engagement Question) Tuesday you can find an engagement question on our social media sites (Facebook or Instagram). This is a question that you can interact with by giving some feedback to encourage our church family and community. You will also find the Link Roundup on our website and social media sites. The Link Roundup is a compilation of articles that relate to what is going on in our world and have caught my attention throughout the week.
- Wednesday: (AWANA at Home, Prayer Meeting Online, Lent Reading, Blog Post) Hey AWANA!! Thanks so much for AWANA at home! We love it. Our leaders of AWANA are sending links to families in the church each week to access content that the whole family can enjoy. Also, one of our elders, Neil Feltham is coordinating prayer meeting via Zoom Conferencing from his home starting at 7:00 pm on Wednesday evening. A link will be sent to you each week if you would like to join in, it is fairly easy to set up on a personal computer. Contact Neil at email@example.com to receive information.Our students in 7th-12th grade are also participating in a Zoom Conferencing call on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm. A Lent reading will be on our Facebook page and you will also find a Blog Post on our website as shared through our social media sites.
- Thursday: (The Link, Bible Labs) If you have subscribed to the Link (our bi-weekly email) you will continue to receive it bi-weekly on Thursdays. This along with a weekly, in-depth, and inductive Bible Lab video. Bible Labs are opportunities to gather around and engage the Scriptures, to dig deeper and mine out the treasures of God’s Word together. You will want to interact with these videos! Consider them like a mobile ABF.
- Friday: Sabbath for our staff. We may post content on these days if we have any extra things to post, but this will largely be a quiet day as we practice Sabbath rest.
- Saturday: You will find a “burner question” on our social media sites. This is a question to pique your interest and maybe cause you to read ahead to prepare for the sermon.
This is not an exhaustive list. There will be interviews from time to time and perhaps even some live-stream events. We are doing as much as we can in this season to keep us connected and to provide great online content to you. We understand that some of you may have experienced technical difficulties from time-to-time and we want you to know that we are working hard to iron out the kinks on our end. We are new at this, so bear with us in patience and understanding.
Also, we have had some in our congregation who do not have access to the internet. We are willing and able to provide a CD player (to borrow) and a CD (weekly) with content (music, the sermon, interviews, etc.) to folks who are in need. Please pass along any names of families in the church who are unable to access the content online. Email Edie Weaver (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you know of anyone who may need a CD player or might not be able to access the online content. We are also currently in the process of constructing a drop off and pick-up box outside of the church. If you would like to drop off items or pick up items, please let us know and we will give you information on its location.
Finally friends, take hold of our memory verse for the month of April, the Lord said to his people, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13.
Chris Lenhart, Lead Pastor