Dear North Central Church family,
These past weeks, some of our Pastors, musicians, and the media team of North Central Church met together on these two surreal Sunday mornings. We were fortunate that by live streaming a service to you, we got to sing together (appropriately distanced!), pray for you and for our community, and linger to strategize for the days ahead. There’s unified clarity around these truths:We all embrace how much we will need God to sustain us in these days. We desperately need His guidance and are more dependent on the Spirit for wisdom than ever. Even though we don't know what our church will look like even next week, we know the future remains secure as Jesus promises to build His church, glorify His name, and refresh those whose roots of confidence are deeply planted in him.These recent weeks have been full for much of our staff as we work to adapt to a temporary version of North Central Church for this season where we exited our love for our neighbors best by staying away from them. So here are some recent developments and initiatives.
- WE’RE NOT GATHERING ON PURPOSE. We’re not congregating because we love people. It is evident that this shutdown was not a single month event. While we don't yet know when we can have a Sunday service again, we know it won't be in the next couple of weeks. We accept the responsibility to do our part in flattening the infection as a primary way to love our neighbors. The call for social distancing makes sense as the best way forward. (Considering the state is still forbidding gatherings as large as North Central Church, and the federal government has issued guidance that churches should not congregate.) While we are not together, we’re trying to stay connected. So we will continue to refrain from holding in-person services, youth group, adult ministry, ROOTSTrack, or other gathering events in person, at least until the restrictions are relaxed. Please be on the lookout for all the ways we’ve reached out through the available online tools. For as long as required, we are encouraging our small groups to find ways to connect online. Please contact the office if you need help getting connected to your group or community online.
- WE’RE MAKING SURE SUNDAY SERVICES CONTINUE. Our Sunday services for adults and children will go on every Sunday in some form. Sunday messages and a song set will be broadcast online every Sunday. We don’t know how long we can broadcast live, or with our music team, but we plan to continue coming to you every Sunday. We thank God that because of the people he’s sent to our church family with technology gifts and talents, approximately 950 people have watched or listened to our online messages already. We are so thankful that you are still worshipping and learning with us. Amy Jennings and Betsy Schuesler and their team are also posting Bible Story lessons for your kids every week. Please watch for notifications coming from our Kid Central Parents Facebook page to view the video. Overall, we plan on teaching and connecting as much as ever, not less, during this time.
- WE’RE ADAPTING TO NEW METHODS. We have also been discussing the method changes needed within our church leadership staff for a completely new and different type of ministry. We are eagerly calling through to our members every day to pray with and for them. We are writing and recording personal messages and ideas for this new and challenging period of "social distancing". We've all been doing some personal development and ministry planning so that when we finally emerge from this, we will be sharper and more focused than ever.
- WE’RE PREPARING TO HELP. We are aiming our church outwardly, preparing to help more as things get worse, as is widely expected in the days ahead (but let's keep praying it doesn’t). Last week we launched Love In Action under the coordination of Alethea Stickel. She is gathering a team of volunteers willing to pick up and deliver essentials for people in need who are shut-in. We honestly don't know what the needs of the community will be in the days ahead or how we could ever help. But we are gathering information to see where everyone is at. It’ll help us put together a matching list of needs and volunteers who are saying, "I want to help, let me know when you know how I can." Alethea will be reaching out to our volunteers as needs come to our attention. So if you'd like to express a need, update your information, inform us of what you’re facing or to volunteer and stay posted as needs arise, you can do so by linking here:
- KEEP ME CONNECTED. I have also reached out to the Director of Child Care Solutions, the Food Bank, the staff at the CNS school meal distribution and the ER management at St Joe’s hospital offering our help. I told them we will have willing volunteers ready to help them however they are needed. I’m especially revved up with anticipation that our contact at St Joe’s has offered us a path to serve and support the ER medical team battling on the frontlines. We are working this minute on gathering the resources (benevolence fund) and churches to provide breakfast and lunch every day. We already have 6 churches commiting help. If you feel you’d like to help you can give directly to our benevolence fund (see GIVE ONLINE below) or contact Alethea about ordering/delivering/writing the encouragement notes we’ll need each week.
- WE’RE PRAYING LIKE GOD IS OUR SOURCE. Finally, we want to be praying fervently for all of the newly unemployed, medical personnel, small business owners/employees and teachers who are part of North Central Church family. In recent years dozens of doctors, nurses, first responders, technicians, teachers, self-employed business owners, etc. have become part of our church. The local medical community is bracing for what could be a "avalanche" of virus cases, and could be facing difficult situations and long hours in the weeks ahead. While we know our ability to show up and help is limited, we can pray for everyone in the medical field at our church, and be ready to field any specific prayer requests they send our way. So if you are in the medical field in any capacity or will be uniquely impacted as a teacher, business owner/employee and would like us to be praying for you, link here for PRAYER. We are also seeing so many of you who are continuing to give. Thank you. As you can imagine the fears, anxieties and precautions around the unknown future will understandably force regular givers to pull back. If you are experiencing a financial hardship PLEASE indicate it on the KEEP ME CONNECTED form. If you are able and plan to continue giving you will help protect the financial health and viability of your church families ministries and employees. This format makes it simple. And as always, the “BENEVOLENCE” account option allows us to steer resources and intervene when someone in the church family is in need. GIVE ONLINE This prophecy in Jeremiah (17:5–8 (NLT)) has steadied my heart this week. Here we find wisdom from the Lord about overcoming our deepest stress, anxiety and fear. 5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. 6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. 7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.Stay rooted. Stay green. Stay fruitful. Pastor Dan