General Superintendent Dr. Mike Holbrook shares, "I encourage you to be the church in these days. God has not been asleep or caught off guard. He will see us through, and my prayer is that the church responds in a way to bring Glory to God." Read on for the latest updates from our General Superintendent.
Sunday, March 15th, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Greetings in Jesus name. I want you to know I am praying for you today as together we navigate through the challenges around us and the changes this brings into our lives.
Many of our churches met but for shorter services, while some cancelled all together. Others with the capability to livestream their services went online. These changes are difficult, but I want to remind us that together we can get through these days. The Lord is still with us and in our midst.
I was reading out of Psalm 78 this morning and came across verse 28 which peaked my interest. Psalm 78:28 reads. "And He let them fall in the midst of their camp. The Psalmist is remembering how God took care of His people while they were wandering in the wilderness. He fed them and this feeding was not hidden from them but He sent the manna and quail right into their camp. He did not make them climb high mountains or seek for this blessing. No, He placed this blessing in their camp and in their midst.
I thought of how God is always in our midst. He never will leave us nor forsake us. Joshua 3-4:13 relates the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan river with the Ark of The Covenant going before them. They placed 12 stones in the Jordan for all to be reminded in the days to come of the great things God did and to not forget He is always in the midst of His people.
You and I are the Lord's. He has and is in our midst even today as we go through challenges. We have a strong foundation as The Churches of Christ in Christian Union. We have wonderful memories but we have more than memories. We have great pastors and the best people you can find anywhere. Our memories are precious but I believe God wants to do something fresh and new in our lives. May I suggest several things from Joshua 3-4:13:
I. God's Presence is Permanent
A. We are walking in new territory.
B. We are crossing into unknown and possibly dangerous territory.
C. We are assured that God is always with us.
II. We Must Not Forget What God Has Done
A. Let's not concentrate on misfortune but how great our God is.
B. Rejoice and Encourage with a spirit of gratitude.
C. Our children need to know the greatness of our God.
III. We Must Prepare For War
A. Satan is still fighting against us.
B. We need to get out of our comfort zones and fight back.
C. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.
IV. We Need Each Other
A. I Believe In you and our churches.
B. I Believe God has brought us together for the purpose of bringing glory to Him.
C. I Believe in God. He is not forsaking us but is wanting to use us.
V. Remember God's Blessings Await Us
A. We are not alone but we have each other.
B. We have to cross into this uncertain territory to receive His blessing.
C. God's blessings are bountiful and more than we can ever imagine.
I believe in you, and I want you to know that together we can do more than we can on our own. Thank you for being a part of my family. You remain in my prayers.
I want to also remind us that President Trump has called today the National Day of Prayer. Let us pray for the unsaved, our world, our nation, our leaders, our pastors and churches and one another.
President Trump's Words:
"It is my great honour to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these. No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL.
With Love and Prayers,
Friday, March 13th, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Greetings in the faithful name of Jesus Christ. These changing days, but there is one thing for sure, Jesus never changes and He never fails. Thank you for standing strong.
I am receiving word from our churches around the world with concerns and questions concerning the COVID-19 and what measures they should take in the local church and communities where they are located. While we are not to live a life of fear or panic but one of faith, love and hope, we also need to be wise and prudent through situations we find ourselves in today. Wisdom does tell us to plan and to proceed with caution.
Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, spoke at a news conference yesterday afternoon and issued an order to temporarily prohibit gatherings of 100 or more people. Many other states have issued similar orders. Although the Ohio order did not include religious gatherings, he gave a strong message that we all need to work together to stop the spread of the virus. I am encouraging each church to establish guidelines. I also want to share some decisions we are making as a denomination as well as give some directional thoughts.
How Should The Church Respond?
We are the church so I pray you will be the church to your congregation and community. I suggest the church contact the hospitals, community leaders, school officials, food banks and other community organizations. Let them know who you are and ask what you can do to help during this time of need. At this time, just as important as our time together inside the four walls of the church, will be time spent ministering outside the four walls of the church.
This needs to be monitored by each church. I might suggest you limit the times you meet. One of our churches is cancelling Sunday school, Sunday nights and other meetings and will only have their morning worship. Others have decided to cancel services altogether. Each church will need to make decisions wisely and with caution.
If you have the capability to streamline services, I would suggest you use this tool and have your congregation tune in from home. There will be those who choose to stay home so find some way to stay connected. If you cannot stream services then try to record or write them and email them to your people.
These changes in most cases are taking place for a two-week period or until the first of April and at that time will reevaluate their situation. Continue to evaluate your situation and respond appropriately.
If anyone is feeling sick: I encourage you to stay home. Use wisdom.
Be patient. God will see us through.
Pray. There are so many who are suffering and need our prayers.
Be flexible. Be in a constant state of evaluation.
Be Understanding: There are many different opinions and views about this situation. Please know we are praying and seeking the Lord on what to do as a denomination.
Be Faithful: Faithfulness is a priority at this time. Faithful to our Lord and to the church we serve. This is a time where some of our churches will feel a financial burden. Find creative ways to have tithes and offerings paid. Make plenty of calls and stay connected.
Because of the order from our Governor that affects our schools and universities, we are going to cancel our Ministerial Conference and Engage. I will get more information to you next week about future plans. I want to move this year’s Conference to the fall. If you have already paid your fees for the Conference there are several ways to handle this.
1. Your payment will be set aside with your church’s name and will be applied to the next Ministerial Conference. Again, we are looking to reschedule this event in the fall.
2. You can ask for your money back. If we are going to have a Fall Conference it would not be long before this amount would need to be submitted again.
I encourage you to be the church in these days. God has not been asleep or caught off guard. He will see us through and my prayer is that the church responds in a way to bring Glory to God. I ask for your prayers as we strive to honor God and make wise decisions. We have the greatest people in the world and together we can make a difference in this time of great need.
I will be sending updates periodically. Know you are loved and I am for each and every one of you.
Below is a post that came from Dr. Doug Carter. I know we are reading and hearing from different sources. I thought this particular post was good, so I wanted to share it.
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW??
Yesterday was one of the craziest days in memory. Governors assured us they are doing everything they can to stop something they have no control over. Every media channel screamed that death is imminent. President Trump banned Europeans from coming to America. And the NBA suspended their season just when we need them most.
In the midst of the craziness I woke up this morning thinking I had the coronavirus. Stuffy nose, dry cough, unreasonable panic. And then I remembered I wake up every morning with everything but the panic; I have seasonal allergies. It turns out I don’t have the virus.
Which brings me to my question for pastors, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? Schools are closing, governments are banning large meetings, and the economy is in free fall. Everyone who is paying attention knows that the next few weeks and months will likely be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. So, what do we do?
Here’s what we’re going to do:
1. We’re going to care for our own souls and our own families
2. We’re going to calm the fearful, care for the vulnerable and love the unlovable
3. We’re going to connect with other leaders and pastors and lean into wise counsel. We are all in this together, so nobody rides alone. If you don’t have other pastors to lean into, let me know and I’ll hook you up.
4. We’re going to adapt. If we can’t meet in groups over 200, we’ll meet in smaller groups. If we are advised to maintain social distancing, we’ll follow that advice. It is not brave or evidence of faith to ignore the wisdom of trained medical experts, it is stupid. Jesus called us to be wise as snakes and harmless as doves. Having people infect others is dumb and harmful.
5. We are going to offer an opportunity for people to connect, worship, pray and learn online. If you do not already have an online experience all you need is a smartphone and a Facebook account. Here are instructions if you don’t know how: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live
6. We are going to encourage people to give online.
7. We are going to look at our budgets and trim all non-essentials so we can be lean and compassionate as the need arises.
8. We are going to facilitate our people volunteering with our local community services to be a resource when they need help.
9. We are going to offer easy ways for our people to share their prayer requests with their fellow believers. We are going to mobilize a team of prayer warriors to pray around the clock.
10. We are going to be salt and light in a lost and dying world.”
To quote an unknown source, "It’s all going to be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end."
With Love and Prayers,