Small Groups and Coronavirus

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In all the uncertainties of life, our highest priority, always, is to trust in God. I received a bit of wisdom this week from a good friend who said, “We don’t always know what God is doing, and we may not always like what God is doing, but we know God and God is good, so therefore we trust.”

I hope each of you have received Pastor Mike’s video and letter via email which outlines the details of our response to the current health crisis. As we continue to seek our priority of becoming Christlike leaders, we have a new and unprecedented opportunity to embrace the Lenten practices of humility, surrender, and sacrifice.  Restricting our own freedoms by embracing a loving posture toward those who are the most vulnerable among us is an act of sacrifice. Limiting our in-person contact by embracing a unified commitment and adhering to the recommended guidelines is an act of sacrifice.  In this season of Lent, we are counting on you to help us shepherd our people well. This pandemic won’t last forever, but for the foreseeable future, let’s honor the wisdom and recommendations of the CDC, our government, and our church as we help others embrace the changes.

With our expansive Small Group Ministry, we have a remarkable network of connection within our congregation; let’s make the most of it! As Small Group Leaders, you have the unique privilege of caring spiritually for our people, now that will require a little more creativity! Since you are “on the front lines” with our people, please keep us informed on how everyone in your circle is doing. While we give up our normal routine, here are a couple of things we are asking you to do that will maintain and deepen our sense of community and lessen the chance of isolation:

  1. Make sure everyone in your group has received the video and letter from Pastor Mike (if not, forward yours to them, it’s on the front page of the website).  As people have questions, remain calm; encourage compassion, love, and unity.
  2.  Remind everyone to watch the worship services online this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30. (Access will be available on our website or facebook any time.)
  3. Carefully consider alternative ways you can stay connected as a small group. Check in with your group members regularly. Start a group text to encourage one another. Create a virtual connection using Skype, Zoom, or another conference calling service to review the sermon and questions online together. Many are free, or perhaps someone in your group has already subscribed to a service. What else could you do to stay in touch with your group members?
  4. We will continue to provide message outlines and small group curriculum to use individually or as a group using virtual options. I will keep you updated through Leader Notes.
  5. Encourage everyone to continue spending time daily with Jesus using the daily Scripture verses and prayer guide. Use the Small Group Spiritual Practices and Discussion questions as a personal discipleship guide, and encourage others to do the same.
  6.  Let us know of any special needs in your group that go beyond the scope of the groups’ capacity to handle. We will do our best to provide additional resources.
  7. Please let us know what you’re doing for creative connections within your group and we will share them with others.
  8. PRAY! Pray for your group members, for our congregation, for our staff, for those who are vulnerable in our community and the world.
It saddens us to make these tough decisions, but we know the Spirit of God is alive in us and in our church. Most importantly, we are all in this together! God is not worried or absent. Let’s strive together to find creative and innovative ways to love each other well by staying in close, Christ-centered community during this season that may feel quite the opposite. Today, as always, take heart, for Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we seek to respond in faith and wisdom to current events.  As things change, we will communicate with you. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Let’s trust God together, let’s fan the flame of trust in others, and let’s continue to deepen our intimacy with Jesus. What new thing might God be doing among us? What does God desire to develop in us? Pray that our eyes will be on Jesus as we move forward with confidence into an uncertain and unknown future.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Paula and Terri

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