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Update: Our Response to COVID-19

March 21, 2020 | by: Ryan Joki | 0 Comments

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Special Announcements

Cornerstone Family,

Over the past several days, I’ve said to be on the look-out for further details on how Cornerstone plans to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Well, here are they are (or, at least, here are our current plans). I apologize in advance for the length of the email, but there’s obviously a lot to communicate – and while I thought of doing this over video, I think an email is easier to review and there are a few links I wanted to include, as well. So please bear with me. (NOTE: There is a brief summary of critical information – with the appropriate links – at the end of this email.)

Upcoming Schedule

Our current plan is to “livestream” our Sunday teaching. You can find a link to our livestream either on our website here (under the “Events” tab at the top of the main page) or on our YouTube channel here. We’re still working on getting the appropriate video equipment, etc. to make this work well, so it’s just going to be me on my laptop’s webcam this week. However, by next week we hope to have a camera set-up in the fellowship hall for a more “normal” experience. We are not going to livestream our music (more on that below), and we figure it’s probably best to livestream just one instructional time at the moment.

With that in mind, we’re planning on making our Sunday school lessons from “The Church” series the main instructional time right now. This is for several reasons: 1) Our fellowship group discussions are currently based on the Sunday school material, not the sermon, 2) there is a definitive length to this series, and 3) given that services are suspended indefinitely, we don’t want to lose the momentum that we’ve been building in this discussion. We’re just now getting to a few important points that Clint and I would like to discuss with you. We want to keep that discussion going so the church can continue to move forward in this interim. This should mean that we’ll be covering this material through at least April 26th (we will still have an Easter message), and we will resume our time in 1 Corinthians after that.

The one caveat we would add to this: this is all assuming that we are still practicing “social distancing” through the end of April. If at any point it appears it’s advisable to resume normal services, then we’ll switch back to the regular schedule immediately. Further, even assuming that we are still practicing “social distancing” through April, we are entertaining the idea of holding outdoor services as the weather warms. If we can do that, then we may well attempt to return to a more regular worship service then, as well.

In the meantime, we realize that there are still two critical elements to body life that need to be addressed in the interim, and that’s corporate worship and corporate fellowship. Here is how we hope to address those issues.

Sunday Morning

We currently plan to livestream our teaching at 9:30. The teaching should last until around 10:15-10:30. After that, we plan to allow for a 30-minute break before beginning our fellowship discussion through Zoom. If you’re not familiar with Zoom, it’s a videoconferencing application that will allow everyone to participate in the conversation either through their computer or mobile device. Now, we will NOT have home fellowship this week, because we expect it will take some time for everyone to get this application added and set-up on this device. However, the plan starting next week is to have one home fellowship videoconference discussion from 11:00-12:00 on Sundays for everyone who is interested in calling in.

Further, I will continue to develop a worship service and post it to the website. (This week’s worship service is here.) I would encourage families to actually begin meeting together at 9:00 AM and simply go through that worship service at home in the same way we do at church. Read the call to worship. Sing the hymn listed after that. Read the Scripture reading together. Pray over the Scripture. Sing the next set of hymns. Then tune-in to the livestream portion of the service. (NOTE: We are going to do what we can to provide instrumentation to sing alone to on our YouTube page. There are copyright issues that will prevent some of that. I may assemble a playlist with singing and instrumentation, as well, if you’re not the singing type. All to say: we’ll do what we can to help make that worship go as smoothly as we possibly can.)  

Altogether, this should allow you to continue in a fairly regular “rhythm” on Sunday morning. (NOTE: We don’t have a plan yet on how to approach the Lord’s Table. More on that to come.) Once again, we won’t do home fellowship this week, but I will deliver hymnals and help set-up Zoom for anyone who is interested this week so that hopefully by next week everything is ready to go.

Cornerstone App

We have started working on a custom app that can be downloaded onto your phone. Our hope is that this app will provide us with several additional options to stay connected. There’s a “prayer wall,” for instance, where prayer requests can be posted. I am also trying to make sure that there’s a “stories wall” where you can post Scripture passages, etc. that have been helpful for you. We realize that not everyone uses Facebook or other social media applications. Our hope is that this can become a bit of a substitute for those type of applications and allow you to remain connected with your fellow brother and sisters in Christ.

You should also be able to livestream from this app on your mobile device. There will also be a “giving” function for those who are interested in giving to the church through the app (more on that below).

Additional Items/Actions

New City Catechism/Family Devotions. Along with the worship service, I’ll be including the catechism and devotional schedule for the week. We’re going to continue working through the current section of Generations of Grace, despite the fact that we will not be meeting together. This will not only continue to give families a guided path for family devotionals/worship at home, but it will keep our children’s Sunday school on track to begin again in the Old Testament in the fall. The same is the case for the New City Catechism. I would be surprised if Kids on Mission meets again this year, but until that cancellation is made official, I am going to keep the catechism questions on pace with KOM. For example, this week was supposed to be a mission week, so you’ll note that there is no catechism question in the attached “order of worship.”

Cornerstone Blog. With sermon prep off the table for the next several weeks, I have some additional time on my hands, and I think that one way I may approach this is by beginning a blog aimed at giving counsel on how to approach the COVID-19 crisis spiritually. I can already see several topics that it could be helpful to address. Be on the lookout for more information on this in the coming days.

Discussion groups. We plan on continuing the men’s and women’s study as planned, just over Zoom. I am also interested in possibly hosting a couple of other short-term discussion groups between now and the end of April. That will all depend on how quickly I am able to get Zoom operational, but, again, with the additional time in my schedule, there may be an opportunity here to address some topics that we haven’t been able to discuss otherwise. All to say, if there’s an aspect of your spiritual life that you would like to develop further (prayer, for example, or parenting), just let me know. We may be able to get a short-term discussion group (or even just a one-on-one discussion) set-up for that.

Leadership Calls. Clint and I usually lean on our interactions at church and in home fellowship groups to know how to pray for you, etc. For some time we’ve been wanting to begin the practice of intentional “pastoral visitation” to get better at that. We obviously shouldn’t visit you under the current circumstances, but we’re still going to try to set-up a more intentional system of getting in contact with you over the phone to see how you’re doing and learn how to pray for you.  

Giving. As you probably know, Cornerstone is dependent on your tithes and offerings to provide you with the ministries you’ve become accustomed to. Thankfully, we have a decent reserve fund built-up to help us weather this storm. However, if you would like to continue to contribute financially to our ministry, we would encourage you to mail your contribution to: Cornerstone Baptist Church, P.O. Box 902, Carthage, MO 64836. Once the app is up and operational, there will also be a “Giving” option there. However, you should know that the app developers collect roughly 2-3% of every contribution given through the app. All to say: if you can do it, a check in the mail is still best.

Physical care/Outreach. The two things that Clint and I still need to work on is 1) how to make sure that your physical needs are being taken care of and 2) how to serve our community and make Christ known in the midst of this crisis. Our main concern this week has been to get the corporate meetings of the church back on track. We plan on moving on to these next two topics next week.

Recap

I think this covers most of it. So in summary, going forward Sunday will look like this:

  • 9:00-9:30 – Worship at home using the attached order of worship. (Again, check our YouTube channel for a playlist, as well.)
  • 9:30-10:30 – Teaching from “The Church” series. You can watch live here and here.
  • 11:00-12:00 – Home fellowship group discussion on Zoom (starting next week).

I will be contacting everyone to make sure they have an opportunity to get set-up on Zoom. And, once again, I’m more than happy to come over both to give you a hymnal and help set-up and explain Zoom on your preferred device.

Further, if there’s a specific spiritual issue that you’d like to see addressed over the next month, just reply to this email and I’ll see what we can do.

Conclusion

As I trust you know by now, the elders and deacons are here to serve you. If any of the above proposals are going to present an obstacle to you or your family, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to adjust. Further, please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s any other way we can serve you during this time.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to continue to be intentional about reaching out to your fellow church members. The big challenge for me this week was to get my mind around the fact that I’m going to have to develop some new habits if I’m going to walk with you through this. I can’t approach my week the way I normally do, because things aren’t normal for the time being. I would encourage you to make the same realization with your fellow church members. Before you could count on seeing them Sunday morning. That obviously won’t be the case for a while, so if you don’t make the intentional decision to develop a new way of connecting with them, you can expect that you’ll naturally grow further and further apart. As I mentioned in my previous email, there are some changes that will occur in this crisis that will be for the better. My hope is that this is one of them – that this crisis forces us to be more intentional in seeking one another out, and that our bonds as a body are even tighter by the end of this process than they are right now.

May the Lord bless you! And we’ll be in touch!

 

In Christ,

 

Ryan Joki

Teaching Elder

Cornerstone Baptist Church

 

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5