Coronavirus and the Church
Like many our town has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases and our area schools and businesses have been closed. The Governor has recommended canceling all group gatherings and we have been asked to stay home. To honor our leaders and love our neighbors Branch Life Church has moved our Sunday service online each week at 5:00 p.m.
Here are the steps we are taking:
- Our services are streamed live on our Facebook page and posted to our website and YouTube channel.
- We understand and support the decision of our government agencies and encourage you to do the same.
- We and look forward to providing additional unique opportunities to interact with you online! (stay tuned for more info)
We are asking that each member of our church family do the following:
- Worship online with us as a family this Sunday. If you are not a Facebook user, our LIVEstream will be available at branchlife.church/live.
- Reach out to your small group leader or the church leadership if you need help.
- Pray for your one. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for area business leaders. Pray for college students. Pray.
- Reach out to your one, your neighbors, your small group, area business leaders, college students, etc.
- Ask, "how can I pray for you?"
- Ask, "how can I help you?"
Worship is vital to our spiritual health and wellbeing. We are fighting two pandemics, COVID-19 and FEAR. When fear meets faith, faith wins! We are better together when we worshiping together, pray together, and listen and respond to God's word together. So how do we worship while be asked to honor social distancing? Online!
As a church, we will provide a variety of online worship opportunities throughout the week to strengthen your connection to Christ and reach our world!
- Sunday Worship Services will stream live online.
- Pastor Josh will host talkbacks/Bible study online on Monday nights at 9 pm.
- Small groups will meet through FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
- Ministry teams can create message threads or Facebook groups to stay in touch to make plans.
- Prayer meetings can happen through online conference calls.
- You can also easily invite friends and neighbors to join us online for any of the above.
(share, e-mail and text links, post, online invites. blog posts and more)
Will you commit to lead your family to participate in worship actively and to seek ways to love your neighbors intentionally?
- Set aside the live online worship times and actively participate (including your family).
- Resist the temptation to take a break from spiritual activities (less Netflix and more Jesus!).
- Seek creative ways to invest in your one and to love your neighbors.
- Trust God in times of trouble.
I am looking forward to worshiping with you Sunday online. We'll be in touch soon with more details!
With the Coronavirus is in the news every day. How should the church react? Can the church still be the church if we can't gather together Sundays? See below for "3 Healthy Ways to Respond to the Coronavirus."
# 1 - Don't Panic: Listen to the Experts, Wash Your Hands, Live Your Life!
Doesn't the last few weeks feel like the first half of every outbreak movie ever? It is so easy to play out the worst-case scenario in our minds and see the end of the world in every cough, sniffle, and fever. Don't go there! The Bible famously says "be anxious for nothing." (Philippians 4:6-7) Here is what to do instead of being anxious.
Listen to the experts!
The experts are telling us to take the Coronavirus seriously, but the vast majority of people who get the virus will be fine. 80% will experience only light to moderate flu-like symptoms, and 96-99% will have a full recovery. For the sake of those who are at high risk due to age or preexisting conditions, it is important 100% of us follow the experts' recommendations to practice social distancing, stay home if sick, stay home if at high risk, wash our hands and live our lives.
Wash Your Hands!
This is a pro-tip even when there isn't a virus outbreak. When concerned, pause for 20 - 30 seconds to wash your hands then move forward with your day! It's also good advice to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and to fist bump more and hug less!
Live Your Life!
What does it mean to live our lives as normal? Well let's face it. Nothing about this is normal. However, for those with faith we don't have to be afraid. While we are all now spending more time at home we have a great opportunity to Love God, love our neighbors and love our families! (more about that later)
We do have the blessing of modern technology to keep us connected during this pandemic. As a pastor It's not fun to talk to an empty room and a video camera. Yet here we are...political rallies, sporting events, concerts, school actives and worship services are all being canceled or moved online.
While we can't meet in person the church can continue to worship, pray, read God's word and be the hands and feet of Jesus! We may have to get creative about how we worship but we will always have the opportunity to love God and love others which our world desperately needs!
Phil 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ! Phil 4:8 tells us to think about what is good, excellent and praiseworthy.
Let's take the #CandoChallenge and post about what we can do.
- I can love my family
- I can help my neighbor
- I can worship with my church (online)
- I can play a game
- I can take an online class
- I can sing a song
- I can go for a walk outside
- I can give generously
- I can FaceTime a friend
- I can pray
- I can turn off the TV
- I can enjoy my family around the dinner table
- I can rejoice in this day
#2 - Take Heart and Trust God
God promises, "in this world, we will have trouble" (John 16:33). Bad things happen because we live in a broken world full of disease, disaster, and death. So why should we trust in a God when these lousy things happen? The short answer to this big question is because God is the only way to fix the brokenness. Yes, we will have trouble, but take heart God has overcome the trouble of this world. For those who trust in God, he promises peace (Philippians 4:6-7), he promises good (Romans 8:28), and he promises wisdom (James 1:5).
So take heart! Don't worry! Trust God!
#3 - Get out There and Help Someone!
God calls the church not just to have peace but also to love our neighbor. We are the hands and feet of God, so let's be proactive and seek out ways we can love our neighbors.
A pastor was exposed to the virus while on a trip to Europe and is in the middle of a 14-day self-quarantine, which means two extra weeks away from his family, his friends, and his church. In our town 17 international students are stuck on their campus during spring break because of the travel band. A friend undergoing chemotherapy said yesterday she is taking her life in her hands every time she ventures out. College students are home early. Sports fans literally have nothing to do! As we consider the possibility of more people, more families, and more communities affected, let's find ways we can care for our neighbors!
- Give generously to those helping on the front lines
- Be kind to one another
- Let others know you are praying for them
- Serve one another
- Give someone an extra roll of toilet paper (yes - that's a thing)
This is a developing situation that changes every day. As a church, we will continue to follow the recommendations of those who know better than us. Churches in virus hot spots such as Asia and Europe have had to make changes to their gatherings and now we have to do the same.
Thankfully with modern technology, the church doesn't have to skip a beat. No matter what comes, we can continue to strengthen our connection to Christ and reach our world!