Dear CCC Family,
On behalf of our staff and elders, please know that we are praying for you and for our church. We are seeking God’s care and provision for you as well as asking what, specifically, God wants to say to us—as a church—in this strange pandemic moment. We are also praying for the world’s healthcare workers, first responders, and our grocery store workers, who are all risking their lives to actively care for the needs of the rest of us.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you [healthcare workers, first responders, and our grocery store workers], constantly mentioning you in our prayers…” –1 Thessalonians 1:2
Beginning this Sunday, we will be hosting three services online – 9am, 10:30am, and 8pm. One or more of our staff will be hosting at each service to connect with you—and we will stay online afterward to chat with you about what was said, or to answer any questions you might have. And please feel free to actively engage with one another online before and after the service begins!
Why are we doing this? We realize that you and your family have rhythms and we want to acknowledge and serve that. Additionally, we want to offer a later online service for single parents/couples who have particularly active households to be able to watch after the kids have gone to bed.
With that in mind, here are some tips regarding how to be fully present for an online service…
1. Propose: Lovingly and graciously propose to your unchurched friends and family (oikos) that they are welcome to join us online. We posted a “Watch Us Online” graphic on our FaceBook and Instagram pages that you can share on your social media feeds. Or, you can prayerfully and specifically invite people to join us. Keep in mind that most unchurched people are asking the big questions of life in this challenging slowed-down-shelter-at-home moment in time.
2. Prepare: Do your best to plan for potential distractions like phones, pets, and hunger pangs. Gather everything you need before the service starts (Bibles, journals, coloring pages for the younger ones, etc.), have everyone use the bathroom, and try to get online a bit early to interact with and say hello to others.
3. Pray: As a household, ask the Holy Spirit to help everyone hear and comprehend what it means to worship God through singing and engaging His Word (see John 4:24). There is no doubt that God is up to something in this moment and we want to hear and joyfully respond.
4. Participate: Model worship for your kids by singing, praying, and opening God’s Word. Remind your household that the Church is God’s family—a community of covenant people who love and trust Jesus—not a building.
5. Practice: Spend some time afterward to talk about what you each heard and consider how you, as a family will put it into practice. Pray together for individual needs as well as our government officials and all those who are serving us on the frontlines.
I wanted to take a moment to remind us that we never outgrow our need for the gospel. The gospel is necessary for both conversion and change. (The theological terms are justification and sanctification.) The word gospel means good news and is not simply the entry point into the Christian life, but it is also the foundation and power that shapes all we do as followers of Jesus Christ, both in our daily lives and in our experience as a community of Christ-followers.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is not only the fire that ignites the Christian life, it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing each day. The gospel is the gloriously great announcement of what God has done through the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to satisfy (or settle) the opposition against sin which God’s holy nature requires and to secure unrestricted access to God that includes the free gift of eternal life, a free and perfect righteousness for all who trust in Christ alone for salvation, the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit, and a coming new creation free from decay, disasters, disease, evil, sin, and death.
Therefore, the gospel is central because it is not what God requires it is what God provides. The gospel is not an imperative, demanding things we must do. The gospel is an indicative, declaring what God has done. (Check out the links!) The gospel is not about human activity; it’s about divine achievement – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The gospel is not a moralistic “Do!” The gospel is a merciful “Done!” The gospel is not good advice – it’s good news! We want the gospel of Jesus Christ to inform and empower all that we do to the glory of God.
There’s an album I’ve been listening to regularly for a couple of years now, it is entitled Simple Gospel by United Pursuit. One song in particular has been very meaningful to me – Head to the Heart. (You can watch/listen here on YouTube.) If you’ve been around CCC for a while you’ve heard me say that I have more gospel (or theology) in my head than in my heart. I suspect that is true for most of us. Let’s use this time sheltering at home to invite God to move His gospel from our head to our heart.
Links That You Might Find Helpful
- The Libby App. Did you know your local library has thousands of ebooks and audiobooks and you can borrow them, instantly, for free, using just the device in your hand?
- 10 Ways in which this Coronavirus Pandemic Can Be for Our Good
- All the times’ Bill Gates has warned us about a deadly pandemic like coronavirus
- Teaching the Bible to Your Kids Should be a JOY… Not a CHORE
- Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions
- Marco Polo messaging app – kind of like a walkie talkie. You can begin a conversation and others can join in at their convenience
- What Is Successful Evangelism?
- Visualizing the History of Pandemics
- 7 Rules For Leading [or working on] A Digital Team
- The Sibling Issues People Complain About Most In Therapy
- Be the Bridge – Racial Bridge Building
- Coronavirus Quick Facts – updated every few seconds – and developed by a teenager!
- 20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic
- Evangelism in the Early Church: Did You Know?
- Letter to Diognetus – You may remember I shared a portion of this in a sermon. It’s a letter from the 2nd or 3rd century explaining why Christianity was growing so quickly.
- Lifestyle Evangelism
- Adventures in Odyssey Club (4-week free trial)
The Generosity Prayer
Even in this time of political and social strife, and with this pandemic lurking, it is good to take stock of our lives and be grateful for God’s provision. Remember, God never promised to keep us from pain and suffering, but to walk with us through pain and suffering. The added bonus is that, through the gospel, we have access to His empowering presence. To find out where your household income ranks you in relation to the rest of the world click here.
The following prayer is entitled The Generosity Prayer. Many churches pray it together as the offering is taken in their worship services. Let’s keep in mind, though, that we can be generous in a multitude of ways.
“Holy Father, there is nothing we have that You have not given us.
All we have and all we are belong to You, bought with the blood of Jesus.
To spend selfishly and to give without sacrifice is the way of the world, but generosity is the way of those who call Christ their Lord.
So, help us to increase in generosity until it can be said that there is no needy person among us.
Help us to be trustworthy with such a little thing as money that You may trust us with true riches.
Above all, help us to be generous because You, Father, are generous.
May we show what You are like to all the world.”
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace in this shelter at home season. I love you CCC, and the rest of your staff and elders love you too. Hang in there and I’ll see you online soon.
Grace & Peace,