GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last Updated 5-6-2020]


Dear GFC,


I don't think we can say this enough, but we miss you! We are so thankful for the technology that has allowed us to maintain a Sunday worship service, but we all look forward to the day when we can meet again as one body. Pray that day will come soon!


In the meantime, as we expressed in our April 27 email, we plan to continue using our Sunday morning live stream through May 31 to allow our church to participate in worship together while we each remain in our own homes.


That said, GFC pastors and deacons have been meeting and planning for the eventual re-opening of our church, and we wanted to share a brief update and some specific prayer needs.


Sadly, our contact at School District 200 recently informed us that they are not planning to allow outside groups to use school buildings until mid-August.  However, he did suggest that we check back with him in late-May, as the decision could potentially change. Given this frustrating update, we have begun this week to research alternative meeting locations that could be used until we are permitted back into Monroe Middle School. 


Let’s give ourselves to pray earnestly and fervently (Acts 12:5)!  Please pray daily for the school to allow us to use the building this summer! Please continue to pray for the Lord’s leading as we look for places to worship. Please also pray for us to have wisdom and unity as a church during these uncertain and unusual circumstances.


Finally, please contact any GFC pastor if you would like to discuss this further, or if there are any ways we can be ministering, supporting and encouraging you.  You can find our contact information at http://gfc1.org/connect/contact-us.  


Thank you for your prayers and patience. 


Blessings and peace,

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Stephen and Mark

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 4-27-2020]


Dear Church,

 

We want to give you an update on some of the ongoing conversations we’ve been having as a leadership team. We met with the deacons earlier this week and had a good, open discussion about the many potential scenarios for any future re-opening of the church.


While we obviously cannot set any firm dates, it would seem that any potential path forward will involve a phased-in approach over a period of time.


With Illinois’ “stay-at-home” order now extended through May 31, we plan to continue using our Sunday morning live stream to allow our church to participate in worship together while we each remain in our own homes. 


What the next phase might look like is hard to forecast right now.  At minimum, we’re hopeful it might involve 2-3 family groups meeting together in homes to participate in the Sunday livestream worship together.


It’s exciting to think about seeing each other again! However, we also have to keep in mind that this is a fluid situation.  So, any plans are obviously subject to change. 

Please know that we continue to discuss and pray about this as a team. We are also in communication with other local pastors and churches. We will keep you posted as we know more!

In the meantime, during this season of waiting we encourage you to invest in four main areas:

1. Invest in your own spiritual growth. Use this time to build your spiritual habits of prayer and Bible study. If you need encouragement, direction, or accountability, let us know! 


2. Invest in your family. Use this time to renew or re-invigorate your family worship. We’ve included some suggested resources below.

 

3. Invest in your church family.  Continue reaching out to others at GFC to encourage, support and pray together.  One family shared how they have used technology (like Zoom, Facetime or Google Meet) to connect with other church families immediately after our livestream ends to form their own “remote prayer group!”


4. Invest in your community. God’s Kingdom continues to grow! Many non-profits and para-church ministries are doing great work right now serving those in need. Talk and pray as a family about some ways you can help those around you this week.

God’s love,

Pastors Michael, Mark, Stephen and Jonathan

 

Suggested Family Worship Resources:

  • Family Time Training (lots of free and low cost ideas for creative family worship) - https://www.famtime.com
  • Visionary Family Ministry (equipping and encouragement for families, including lots of free events happening online) - http://www.visionaryfam.com
  • Operation World (a prayer ministry focused on reaching the world for Christ) - http://www.operationworld.com
  • For those with older kids, there’s a great new series on Christian history available on Amazon Prime, called “Epic” - https://epicchristianhistory.com/
  • For those looking to explore God’s Work in Creation, check out, “The Riot and the Dance” - https://riotandthedance.com
  • The Bible Project offers short, concise video summaries of different books of the Bible that are a great way to start conversation. Use them for family worship or consider starting a Zoom small group based on these videos. https://bibleproject.com/

GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning


[last updated 4-17-2020]

Dear Church,
As you may have already seen in the news, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that all private and public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. While not totally unexpected, this still feels like a blow. After almost four weeks of “staying-at-home,” the prospect of more isolation may feel overwhelming. We share your pain and frustration. These are difficult times that force us to press deeper into God’s presence for strength to persevere.

Since we rent space from a public school, at this time we don’t yet know the full impact of the Governor's decision on GFC. Ultimately, of course, our church is not limited to a particular building. GFC will continue regardless of location. However, the lack of space does create new challenges that we are actively working to solve.

Like many of you, we are working hard to stay fully up-to-date with the latest developments and analysis. Like you, we are praying regularly for wisdom and discernment. Along the way we have also remained in communication with other local pastors and national church networks. As has been said so many times already, this situation is utterly unique for everyone involved, in every country, all around the world.

In this rapidly changing situation, at this exact moment, we don’t have any clear answers just yet. However, we wanted to let you know that even before the Governor’s announcement today we had scheduled a conference call with the deacons for early next week. Please pray for us as we dig into this as a team. We will continue to discuss our contingency plans and are collectively working on possible strategies for the future.

In the meantime, please join us in praying for unity, both as a church and as a nation. As quarantine-fueled tensions run high, may the love of Christ bring peace and comfort to people who are anxious, hurting or hopeless.

In Christ Alone,

Pastors Mark, Michael, Stephen and Jonathan


GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 4-3-20]

 

Dear GFC,


We continue to monitor the news and meet concerning the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to give you another update on how we are responding to this changing situation as a church.  As always, please feel free to reach out to any of the pastors directly if you have any questions, concerns, or need help in any way during this time. Our primary concern is for you, our congregation, and we want to be as available as possible. Call or text or email any time.


A)  GFC Response

This is our best current view as of April 2nd, 2020.  We will continue to update you as we learn and adapt in a rapidly changing environment:


1.  We plan to continue live-streaming our worship services as we have the past few weeks. This may change as the situation develops.  We continue to take this one week at a time and adjust as necessary.  We believe our ministry is a crucial source of comfort and support during this season of distress. At a time of isolation, participating in a live-stream worship gathering is a unique way for people to feel connected as a church.

We are using a limited number of staff and volunteers to produce this live-stream.  And we are taking reasonable precautions based on recommended preventive practices. 


2.  We are in the process of scheduling Zoom prayer meetings, Bible studies, and Equip Groups.  These are great ways to spend time in fellowship and to continue to build one another up in the faith. Please watch your email for further details.


3.  We are also in the process of recording a special Good Friday devotional message and putting together a family worship guide to use as a family.  The message will be a part of our sermon series on Luke and so we strongly encourage you to watch it as a part of your family worship.


4. We are continuing to provide pastoral care and benevolence ministry.  If you have a pastoral care or benevolence need please let the pastors or deacons know. 


5. Finally, we are doing what we can to monitor the information as it is released.  We encourage you to do the same and stay informed on the latest recommendations as the situation unfolds. 


B)  Christian Response

God in His sovereignty is using this global pandemic to accomplish His good purposes in you, your family, and in the world (Romans 8:28-29).  God is using this to grow our love for Jesus Christ, for our family, and for our neighbors.


Remember that our hope is in God and God alone. His Word tells us: “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17).  “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)


1.  God is sovereign (Eph. 1:11; Col 1:16-17; Rom. 11:36; 13:1; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 135:6; Prov. 16:33).  Our hope and security is not in our health and wellness, but in our God alone.  In view of God’s sovereignty we encourage you not to give way to fear or worry. We need not fear sickness or even death for we have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Christ (2 Cor 5:16-18; Phil 1:21).  Peace comes as we trust God (Phil 4:5-7).


2.  We encourage you to dedicate time to prayer.  Pray for God’s mercy.  Pray for family, friends, and neighbors impacted here and around the world.  Pray for revival.  Pray that God’s people would not give way to fear but have peace and courage.  Pray our trust and dependence on God would grow.  Pray for those in authority to lead with wisdom in accord with God’s Word.  Pray for the strength and protection of healthcare workers and those serving on the front lines.


3.  We encourage you to look for ways to minister to others in this season.  Christians throughout history have been known for doing what they can to help alleviate the sufferings of those facing illness or persecution and sharing the gospel of Christ.  We have an opportunity to do the same as we face this current situation.


We can be the “hands and feet” of Christ, by helping one another and our neighbors should they get sick. This could include providing a meal or going shopping for them, perhaps simply leaving it on their doorstep to prevent personal exposure.  This may include calling those in nursing homes and other situations where they face loneliness.  Caring for friends and neighbors tangibly shows the love and mercy of Christ.  This can lead to fruitful gospel ministry to the lost.  Ultimately, we leave your level of involvement to your personal conscience.


4.  We encourage you to minister to one another. Without our weekly fellowship gathering this is more important than ever!  Keep in contact for connection, encouragement and prayer.  This is a great opportunity to practice Christian friendship through discipleship relationships.


A Discipleship Relationship includes four things:

  • Check Up – Ask: “How is your walk with the Lord going?” Or “How can I be praying for you?"
  • Build Up - Encourage each other with the Word of God based on the needs. (Speak the truth in love, grace, and gentleness: Ephesians 4:15; Galatians 6:1)
  • Stir Up - Help each other identify the next step to grow in following Jesus. Sometimes this requires an action. Often it requires believing a truth or a promise from Scripture. Then pray for one another.  (Hebrews 10:24-25; 3:13)
  • Follow Up - Commit to following up on these growth areas with each other next time. (This provides accountability).  Schedule your next meeting before finishing.

5.  Now is a unique time when people are aware of and thinking about their own mortality.  This is an opportunity for the church to share the gospel and advance the kingdom of God. 


  • More people are out walking in our neighborhoods than ever before.  As you and your family take walks together make them purposeful.  First, take the opportunity to talk with people you see (from a safe distance).  Ask how they are doing and look for ways to share the hope that you have.  Second, make your walk into a prayer walk and pray for your neighbors.  God means to use you where He has planted you in this season.
  • We can be a witness to Christ by how we talk about this situation with others.  As Christians, we do not face this with the same kind of fear others do.  We can share the gospel and the eternal truths of Scripture.  Our sure hope in Christ brings peace even when we face uncertainty, illness, suffering and death.  The peace and hope we have in Christ provides a contrast to the world’s response of fear and worry. These uncertain times are a tremendous opportunity for us to testify to the power of the gospel.
  • We encourage you to remember to speak graciously and gently with those who may have a different perspective than you do about this situation.  

6.  Finally, we should respect governing authorities with obedience, when their requests are not sinful and do not contradict God’s commands in Scripture (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). 


Again, fix your eyes on God not your circumstances.  Give Him thanks and praise.  Remember, God is our rock, our refuge, our strong tower, our mighty fortress, and our strong deliverer.  God is truly with us, bringing comfort, encouragement, physical healing, and most importantly, hope.  May we lean into these truths daily to find strength in our great and awesome God.  

 

God’s Love,

 

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Mark and Stephen



GFC Coronavirus Response and Planning

[Last updated 3-12-20]

 

Dear GFC,


As we wrote in our email to you last week, we have been closely monitoring the news and have had many meetings concerning the coronavirus. We wanted to give you another update on how we are responding to this changing situation as a church. Please feel free to reach out to any of the pastors directly if you have any questions or concerns, or need prayer, or help in any way during this time. Our primary concern is for you, our congregation, and we want to be as available as possible. Call or text or email any time.


A)  GFC Response

This is our best current view as of March 12, 2020.  We will continue to update you as we learn and adapt in a rapidly changing environment.  

After our most recent meeting about this as pastors, and with input from the deacons and other trusted medical experts, here are the changes we are implementing:


1.  We will be canceling our Sunday gathering and will instead be live-streaming our worship service for the next two weeks.  It is possible we may extend this length of time and we will let you know as the situation unfolds.  This decision was not made from a place of panic or fear but out of love and concern for others - especially those who are most vulnerable and are higher risk.  We want to proactively do all we can to help prevent the spread of infection.  Our best understanding at this point is that social distancing is one of the best approaches to limit the spread of infection and reduce the potential burden on the healthcare system.


2.  We plan to livestream the service on Sunday and in the coming weeks.  We have never done this before, so please be patient since we can’t guarantee the quality or accessibility. We will send out details regarding this as soon as we have them. 


3.  We are also canceling our youth gathering on Saturday and our March Men’s Ministry.  We are also postponing our Equip Groups for the time being. 


4.  We are doing what we can to monitor the information as it is released.  We encourage you to do the same and stay informed on the latest recommendations as the situation unfolds.  Visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html


B)  Christian Response

As pastors, this has been a difficult decision to make.  However, it is precisely in moments like this that we are reminded that our hope is in God and God alone. His Word tells us:


“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)


“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)


1.  Remember God is sovereign (Eph. 1:11; Col 1:16-17; Rom. 11:36; 13:1; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 135:6; Prov. 16:33).  Our hope and security is not in our health and wellness, but in our God alone.  In view of God’s sovereignty we encourage you not to give way to fear or worry. We need not fear sickness or even death for we have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Christ (2 Cor 5:16-18; Phil 1:21).  Peace comes as we trust God (Phil 4:5-7).


2.  We encourage you to pray for God’s mercy over this situation.  Pray for family, friends, and neighbors impacted here and around the world.  And, pray that uncertainty would not turn into fear or worry, but instead would strengthen your trust and dependence on God.


3.  Christians throughout history have been known for doing what they can to help alleviate the sufferings of those facing illness or persecution and sharing the gospel of Christ.  We have an opportunity to do the same as we face this current situation.


4. We can be the “hands and feet” of Christ, by helping one another and our neighbors should they get sick. This could include providing a meal or going shopping for them, perhaps simply leaving it on their doorstep to prevent personal exposure.  As we care for friends and neighbors impacted by this virus, we tangibly show the love and mercy of Christ.  This can lead to fruitful gospel ministry to the lost.  Ultimately, we leave your level of involvement to your personal conscience.


5.  We can also be a witness to Christ by how we talk about this situation with our friends, family and co-workers.  As Christians, we can share the gospel and the eternal truths of Scripture.  Our sure hope in Christ brings peace even when we face uncertainty, illness, suffering and death.  The peace and hope we have in Christ provides a contrast to the world’s response of fear and worry. These uncertain times are a tremendous opportunity for us to testify to the power of the gospel. We also encourage you to remember to speak graciously and gently with those who may have a different perspective than you do about this situation. 


6.  Finally, we should respect governing authorities with obedience, when their requests are not sinful. If they ask you to stay home and limit your time outside please do so (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).


God knew that at the very moment we would be facing these days as a church we would be studying in men’s and women’s ministry the security and comfort that we have in Him. God is indeed our rock, our refuge, our strong tower, our fortress, and our strong deliverer. He remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is truly with us, bringing comfort, encouragement, physical healing, and most importantly, hope.  May we lean into these truths daily to find strength in our great and awesome God.  

 

God’s Love,

 

Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Mark and Stephen