We will gather online only on Sundays at 11 am
and Wednesdays 7pm through April 16th.
Dear Faith Family,
I want to share with you a word of encouragement from the Scriptures during these unprecedented times, and I also want to share with you five new, exciting initiatives that we are launching so that we can continue to live out the gospel in community on mission as a Faith Family.
There is a word that is being used now at almost every turn. It is the word “unprecedented.” It means “uncommon” or “unrivaled.” Or to put it another way, unprecedented is a way of saying, “we haven't gone this way before.” Often interwoven with this word is fear and unrest because of the unknown. To be transparent, for most of us the situation and circumstances we are facing are unprecedented. We are traveling a path we have not gone before. So what do we do now? Where can we turn for hope? Does God have a word for us? What does the Bible say?
In Revelation 22:13, God declares of Himself, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” In other words, what is unprecedented for us is not unprecedented for our God. What is unknown to us is not unknown to Him. God is omniscient, which means there is nothing that God does not already know. In fact, God is at the end of this event already. He knows what we are facing, and He knows the path forward. That’s powerful, and perhaps even more powerful and encouraging than that awesome truth is that God knows the path forward and God is always with us showing us the path forward. God is omnipresent, which means He is always present. He is behind us, beside us, and goes before us. God will show us the path He wants us to go as we follow Him by faith through it all.
I'm reminded of our Lord's word to Joshua as they were taking the unprecedented journey across the Jordan into the Promised Land, but also into a firestorm of hostility all around them. In Joshua 3, the Lord told Joshua to tell the people to consecrate themselves and to keep their focus on God by keeping their eyes fixed on the Ark because the Lord Himself was going to take His people on a new path which they had not gone before.
Armed with this truth, what do we do now in response to the unprecedented season before us?
First, by faith in Jesus Christ, know that you are God's people. He will lead us, and you do not have be afraid. By faith in Jesus, you are God’s sons, and you are His daughters. He loves you with a never ending, never quitting, always redeeming, always revealing love. And as you are His, you can be confident that God is with you today. He will be with you tomorrow, and He will be with you every day after that. So, consecrate yourself -- repent of your sins, yield everything to the Lord, align your life with His Word, and fix your eyes on Jesus and by faith and He will lead you. He will lead all of us through this challenging time.
You do not have to be afraid. God knows all things. He is always present, and as the Creator of everything God is greater than any created thing. He is omnipotent, which means He is all powerful. He is our shield. He is our bulwark. God is our refuge and our strength today, tomorrow, and every day after that. He is bigger than this virus. He is bigger than this economy. He is bigger than this world, so believe Him. Trust Him. Follow Him, and by faith let Him be bigger than your fear.
What is unprecedented to us is not unprecedented to God. He loves you, and if you have ever doubted God’s love for you, just look to the cross of Jesus Christ. He loves you so much that He died and rose again for you. He gave His life for you. God is not dead. He is alive, and He will lead you. You can trust him.
Secondly, by prayer and by faith as a Faith Family, we must come together through the Holy Spirit and respond to these unprecedented times with an unprecedented response with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We hold this truth from the Word of God: Church is not a place you go, it’s a family you belong to. Church is not about meeting in a building, and many have made that point. But church is about the gospel being lived out in community on mission.
In our present climate, maintaining gospel community has become one of our greatest challenges. We refuse to live in fear of gathering in person, but at the same time, we should be wise and responsible and lead our community by example.
As the weeks progress, field conditions will change, and we will remain fearless and flexible, and wise as to what our in-person gatherings look like. In the immediate term, our President, health officials and our County Officials have requested that groups be limited in size to 10 or fewer until April 16th. We should lead by example, limit our in person gathering size to 10, and practice social distancing in a united effort with our fellow Americans, many of whom are facing much more difficult circumstances than we are presently.
So, in this season we are launching 5 new initiatives to leverage innovation, technology, and every other available resource in ways that we have never done before so that we can continue to live out the gospel in community on mission as a Faith Family. We are not satisfied in gathering a crowd, rather our aim is to create a flourishing gospel community in new and creative ways.
1.) The first of these new initiatives is LIVE, ONLINE WORSHIP GATHERINGS. We will gather live, online in place of our large gatherings for worship through music, through prayer, through preaching of the Word of God, and practical discipleship. Every online gathering will have Worship Hosts and Prayer Partners so you can interact throughout the service, request personal prayer by direct messaging, and relay those prayers for pastoral and community prayer. For the first time, we will also have an extended discipleship session following the service where anyone can ask any question for further application of the Word. Make sure you like, subscribe, and share our Facebook page so you will be notified when we are live and when updates are posted. There is a tutorial video on our website, dutchcovebaptist.org, to help you.
After researching several options, Facebook will serve as our primary vehicle for connecting through the Internet. In addition to our worship services on Facebook, we will also be broadcasting on our website. However, we want you to participate in worship and not just watch it. Facebook gives us this flexibility. To be sure, social media has its share of pitfalls, but in this season of limited person-to-person contact, it is one of our best tools that can be redeemed for the glory of Jesus through this trial. So even if it’s only temporary, I encourage you to create an account today. We will be glad to help you in person, in addition to the instructions on our website. Lastly, we realized that some of our Faith Family do not have the technical background or means to gather online, and so we are experimenting with several other options that would allow us to gather in worship and prayer while maintaining social distancing and group size limits. We will notify everyone when those options become available.
2.) Our second initiative is LIVE, ONLINE MIDWEEK PRAYER GATHERINGS. On Wednesday evenings we will gather live, online for praise, bible study, and Scripture driven prayer. These gatherings will be unique in their teaching style as we will show you how to study your Bible for life changing truths and model Scripture driven prayer that will elevate your prayer life. During these gatherings, we will receive prayer requests live for pastoral and community prayer. If anyone desires it, their prayer requests will be shared with our online community so that our broader Faith Family can lift one another up in prayer.
3.) Thirdly, we will be launching a special group and resources for FAMILY DEVOTION SUPPORT. We believe parents are the primary disciple makers in the home. Early each week, we will be sharing a family devotion guide for every age group. Family devotions will include videos, devotion materials, and age appropriate discussion questions that equip parents to lead their family in simple devotions with confidence in order to help their family to continue to grow in their faith. These videos will also be available on our website, and printed copies will also be made available for download and for pick up from the church office during normal business hours.
4.) Fourthly, we will be launching a MEMBER CARE NETWORK OF PRAYER PARTNERS. We realize that it is easy to become isolated during this time, so we are taking multiple steps to connect with every active member and attendee by phone on a regular basis while our gatherings are limited. During these calls, our network of Prayer Partners will pray with you and gather your prayer requests for pastoral and community prayer. We realize this season of limited personal contact may create various pastoral needs for our Faith Family, and we want to meet those needs as we serve one another with the love of Christ. Moreover, Sunday School Life Groups are presently limited due to the recommended social distancing and group size restrictions. Group leaders will be checking in regularly with their group members for prayer and support.
5.) Lastly, we are emphasizing MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FAITHFUL GIVING. It is important to remember that even though we are not gathering as usual, our ministries and mission continue each week. Please continue to practice the faithful generosity you have shown already. Remember that your generosity fuels the mission of Jesus. There is no greater need than the need for the good news of the gospel to boldly and clearly advance in these days. There are three opportunities to continue in faithfulness to the Lord through your generous giving. You may give online by clicking on the Give Now link on our website: https://www.dutchcove.org/give-now . You may also mail a check to the church office at 4161 Dutch Cove Road, Canton, NC 28716 or you can drop off your tithes and offerings to the church offers during normal business hours.
Faith Family, please join me in prayer as we plead with God to do only what He can do for the glory of His name. Only God can take a trial and turn it into a triumph. Only our Lord can do far more abundantly and beyond anything we can think or imagine.
With the love of Christ Jesus for you and your family,