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
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.
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 3-12-20]
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
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.
Pastors Michael, Jonathan, Mark and Stephen