Looking Ahead in Light of COVID-19
March 17, 2020
Hello First Family!
This will be a little long, but don’t quit reading. Hang in there with me, ok?
Many of our leadership met last night to discuss the most prudent way for FFC to celebrate, grow, and serve in light of new guidelines from both the IDPH and CDC. We want to be careful to honor our governing authorities (Romans 13) and at the same time be faithful to biblical priorities (1 Cor. 11-14; Heb. 10:24-25). We are committed to both a theological and practical understanding of our responsibilities as God’s people.
We Are No Exception
As you’ll see in the coming paragraphs, we’re advocating for a continued posture of prioritizing both our large and small group gatherings and pursuing missional opportunities. In a nutshell, this is exactly what the church has done for centuries. Historically, God’s people have fought hard to figure out how to stay connected, even meeting together when it was costly and risky. Admittedly, how they met together changed at various times. From homes and Solomon’s Porch in its initial beginnings to caves and secret places during the persecution to buildings and public spaces in more modern times. At no time was location the issue. Rather, mission was always front and center.
We are no exception. Our methods may need to change in this current health crisis; frankly, they may need to change for a lot longer period based on what unfolds. But God’s mission never will. He is redeeming a people unto himself from every nation, language, tribe and tongue (Rev 7:9-10), and his primary means of accomplishing that is his church—his gospel-believing, cross-embracing, Spirit-filled, biblically-based, mission-minded, others-conscious, risk-ready, and God-glorifying disciples who have taken up their cross and followed him.
The Broader Explanation
Here are the adjustments FFC is making for the next three weeks (through the week of April 5), with re-evaluation occurring at that point.
Celebrating the Gospel
FFC will continue the rhythm of our weekly Sunday services at 8:30 am and 10:30 am but with no actual physical gathering at our facility through the week of April 5. Instead, we will stream our service online, and in this short-term adjustment, we’re asking all FFCers to continue to prioritize the time slot you’ve already carved out for gathering to celebrate the gospel and come together in a digital fashion online. Though in the immediate next two weeks this will probably be limited to just your family, if/when CDC restrictions loosen, consider meeting with your small group, friends, or even inviting neighbors to your “watch party.” Whatever the scenario, refuse to release your habit of intentionally connecting with the body at the time you normally attend service. It will be different for at least a few weeks, but don’t delete it for these weeks.
Additionally, our leadership will be creating supplemental avenues for interacting digitally during this time. We anticipate having prayer partners available while the service is streaming, as well as online Q and A/chat options. We are also working on other digital connection points that will serve to keep us “together” in this time of disruption.
We admit this scenario isn’t ideal, nor does it adequately replace the collective unity experienced when all the body “comes together” (1 Cor. 11). But it is the necessary and responsible step currently in order to aid our civic leaders as they address this pandemic and lead our communities.
Growing in Community
We are also encouraging our Small Groups to continue to meet as long as your meeting is in conjunction with the CDC guidelines. We know some Small Groups may have vulnerable populations in them, so please be creative in how you “connect.” Some will still meet in person at their host home; others may utilize an online format, such as Zoom, FaceTime, or another social platform that connects multiple users. Some Small Groups may elect to multiply into more Small Groups so that they can still engage for spiritual growth but with potentially less risk of further spread. Your Small Group leader will inform you on how they plan to proceed.
Serving the Mission
Change and crises always mean opportunity and open doors. Especially for the gospel! Please don’t underestimate how stirring your example of compassion and service could be in these times. People are admittedly fearful and uncertain; the idea of control is proving to be a mirage. Consequently, eyes and ears are wide open to those who can navigate these waters differently. Confidently. Courageously. Not based on who we are, but based on who God is. As a follower of Jesus, we urge you to remain committed to serving others humbly and sharing your faith boldly.
Additionally, we have mobilized many of you to help with needs among the vulnerable in our congregation, and I so appreciate your quick response to serving in this way. Please know that if you are struggling with specific matters in this time, whether economically, emotionally, spiritually, or logistically, we have teams ready to assist. It’s my prayer that we will see a chain of concern grow all across our faith family that will actually help keep us linked together in a time when isolation and distance could become the norm.
Carefulness and Faithfulness
With clarity and conviction I call our church to humbly hold both carefulness and faithfulness in the same hand. Granted, we will need to develop some temporary, out-of-the-box approaches. But it will be worth it in order to maintain a fervent commitment to our Lord’s mission.
The Finer Details
A more complete listing of FFC’s adjustments during this pandemic is available below. This page is updated regularly, and provides the most comprehensive place to stay informed concerning FFC’s response to COVID-19.
On behalf of our leadership, thank you for your flexibility, intercession, and commitment. By God’s grace we will lean into this opportunity with carefulness and faithfulness, reflecting God’s infinite greatness and sovereignty in a time when we are realizing more and more how we’re neither.
For the fame of Jesus,
Changes as of March 18
- No physical gathering will be held at our facility through the end of April. We will review either before or at that point and determine next steps.
- All services will be streamed at our normal Sunday service times: 8:30a and 10:30a. These services, or “watch parties,” will include interactive options such as prayer opportunities, discussion forums, and Q and A. Please visit our Watch page, YouTube channel, or Facebook page to participate.
- Continue meeting in some fashion and in conguence with the IDPH’s and CDC’s guidelines. All curriculum continues to be distributed via email.
- All non-FFC facility usage has been cancelled up through the month of April.
- All FFC facility usage, whether previously approved or pending, is under review and contingent upon meeting the guidelines of the IDPH and CDC and the approval of the Director of Operations.
- AWANA will no longer meet corporately this spring. Opportunities will be available for children to recite their verses and finish their books. If this affects you, watch for an email from our Children’s Ministry Director with full details.
- Each week’s children’s ministry curriculum will be available only on Sunday on the FFC Kids Parents Facebook group.
- Our children’s ministry staff will be creating innovative, connecting activities accessible through the FFC Kids Facebook page.
- Middle and high school youth will not meet until at least April 1, when they may go to meeting in smaller units based on specific grades. Other avenues for connection are forming that fit current IDPH and CDC guidelines and facilitate staying connected to some degree during this interim.
- Other ministries, such as men’s and women’s, will communicate their next steps through targeted emails to participants.
- All international mission trips are currently postponed.
- We have implemented additional flexibility for our staff, so due to telecommuting and the ability to work remotely in this time, please call the office in advance to ensure someone is there should you need to drop off something.