No In-Person Worship Gatherings This Weekend

No In-Person Worship Gatherings This Weekend

Hey Church Family,

I hope you’re having a GREAT July 4th weekend! I spent the last week and a half on vacation in Ruidoso, NM and it was hard to leave that cool mountain air. Thanks for your generosity in allowing me some time to get away with my family and relax.

I’m writing because of a hard conversation I just had with our pastoral team. We’ve decided to cancel our in-person worship gatherings for this weekend (and this weekend only.) This was not an easy decision and the reasons that factor into our conclusion are complicated. But this is what we’ve decided to do. Here is WHY we are making this decision.

No “In-Person” Gatherings This Weekend

As you’ve probably seen on the news, COVID-19 cases have drastically increased in the city of Abilene. The latest update (July 3rd) includes 40 new cases and 23 hospitalizations. The vast majority of these new cases are among young people 20-40 years old (as you can see from the graphic below).

Some of these infections include people from our very own congregation. I personally know of two people who have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms such as high fevers, body aches, coughing, etc. One of our members is even being tested for pneumonia due to his extended fight against this virus over the last week. Things are hitting “close to home” and it’s difficult to watch. 

None of these are the reason why we are cancelling our “in-person” gatherings this weekend. They are facts that contributed to the decision but were not themselves sufficient to cancel gathered worship.

The reason we are cancelling our in-person worship gatherings in because of a potential COVID-19 outbreak among our staff.


An Abundance of Caution

Obviously, that’s a shocking statement so let me explain what we’re facing. Last weekend, a person attending our West Campus came down with COVID-19 symptoms shortly after service. That individual later tested positive for COVID-19. That individual also (before being tested) had close and extended contact with someone on our staff. That staff person is now experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms and has undergone a test that is awaiting results.

We won’t have the results for that test until after this weekend (Monday or later.) It’s possible this staff member’s symptoms are just allergies but given their extended exposure to a confirmed case, the dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations and the extended exposure our staff has had to this potential positive case, there are simply too many uncertainties to move forward with “in person” worship gatherings.

Some may say this abundance of caution is unnecessary. Why not just have church and hope for the best? It’s possible this staff person isn’t infected and therefore our other staff weren’t exposed. It’s possible this is all just an overreaction. I sympathize with that sentiment. That’s basically the way I felt until this staff person started experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms. The truth is, WE JUST DON’T KNOW FOR SURE.

I’d rather take an abundance of caution for ONE weekend until we do know for sure than try and take a risk and someone else in our church get sick because of that. If we had a negative test result for this staff person then the risk would be far lower. The fact that we don’t know one way or the other gives me too little confidence to move forward with gathered worship.


Where Do We Go From Here?

Given that we are cancelling the “in-person” worship gathering this weekend, where do we go from here? 

We will still live-stream a worship service on Sunday morning at 9:45. There will be music and preaching and a time of response. Just because we cannot meet in person doesn’t mean we cannot meet together for worship. We will gather together ONLINE this Sunday morning at 9:45. We will also have a Children’s Worship Service at 9:15. 

You can watch the service on our website, our Church Online Platform, our church Facebook page or on YouTube.

We are also planning to resume our in-person worship gatherings NEXT WEEKEND. As you know, we were very excited about our July 12th kick-off because we were going to restart our preschool and children’s ministry programming. We do not plan to cancel any of these plans. The rise in cases doesn’t mean we can’t continue our reopening plans. We just need to do so with wisdom and care in light of our new reality.

We will discuss, as a staff, the particular changes we need to make in each environment. For now, the only changes we know for sure are the worship service times. Our original plan was to have our traditional service at 8:20 and our contemporary service at 9:45. We thought that would give us enough time to keep people distanced between services. The rise in cases and hospitalizations has caused us to rethink that timing. 


The new meeting times for Sunday morning worship will be 8:30 (traditional) and 10:15 (contemporary).

For now, we are going to discourage small groups meeting on Sunday morning as we cannot ensure the proper social distancing if everybody meets at the same time on Sunday. Instead, groups will be encouraged to meet at other times on campus throughout the week. Once our cases go down we will reassess Sunday morning small groups. 

We will also encourage the use of masks on our campus. If you’ve been joining us for in-person worship gatherings this has always been a recommendation but we’ve been very relaxed about it. Once people have gotten seated in the sanctuary, most of the masks come off. I’ll be doing more research on that in light of the new executive order given by Governor Abbot. The order went into effect at noon today.

You can read the full text of his executive order here. As you can see, religious services are exempted from this new order about wearing face masks but their use is still strongly encouraged. I would encourage you to watch the video of Governor Abbot discussing this order and the uptick in cases. Wearing a face covering really does help to slow the spread of COVID-19. Future times of gathered worship need to take this into consideration (especially during times of increased spread). 

I know this isn’t what anybody wanted to hear. I long for the day when COVID-19 is behind us but that day doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. I predict this virus is something we are going to have to learn to live with for the foreseeable future. We need to live with wisdom for our own well being and love and concern for the well-being of others. 


Final Thoughts

With all of this being said, I want to sign off by expressing my gratitude for your patience and love during this time. You’ve demonstrated a spirit of perseverance and sacrifice as our church has navigated this season. It’s been a trying time for all of us. You really are a shining example of how to shine the light of Christ to our city during a dark time. I hope you will not grow weary in light of this setback.

Our confidence can remain strong that God is in control and that He is working all of these things together for our good. We need to celebrate the good and wonderful things that God has already done through these days. Tomorrow is the fourth of July. What a great reminder of God’s grace to our country. We are a free and independent people. Let’s celebrate that and use our freedom to further God’s purposes in these trying times.

Now, more than ever, people need to hear about and respond to the freedom that is ours in Christ. Now, more than ever, the Church needs to shine bright the hope of heaven and the promise of eternal life through Jesus. In the words of the apostle Paul, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” (1 Corinthians 9:19)

This verse has been a guiding light for me as we navigate this season. I hope you’ll continue praying for myself and the other leaders in our church. I also hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday. If you’re able, please spread the word so we can get this news to as many people as possible before Sunday morning. 

Have a great fourth of July weekend!

Until He Comes,

Pastor Wes

God’s Heart for the World: Current Events and Kids

God's Heart for the World: Current Events and Kids

Hello Parents,
 
 
So here I am, writing about something I’ve never wanted to write about. I purposely avoid conflict. I can’t stand long pauses, awkward glances, or angry looks. The thought of someone being mad at me or offended by something I have said leaves me rattled for days. But here I am, because I can no longer shake the giant pit I have in my stomach. Just months ago, I stood before our church, looking into the eyes of parents, friends, and mentors accepting the job as the Preschool Minister with my main goal and calling being to help the preschoolers of Broadview build a spiritual foundation and help equip their parents to do that as well. I take this calling seriously and that is why, for the last few months, I have wrestled with the idea of keeping quiet or saying something.
 
 
The topic of race is one that is so hard to discuss. I never felt I should say something because I personally have never experienced my rights or privileges being questioned. I have never wanted to start the conversation in fear of saying something wrong or being misunderstood. I just sat back and let those around me who were braver, could write better, and spoke louder, take the lead. But as I look into the eyes of my children and into the eyes of your children, I feel I cannot truly share the heart of God with them without going there. I cannot sit back and allow other people to fight against the hatred for me. I cannot act like the awful acts of murder did not occur. We have to look our children in the eyes and tell them this is NOT the heart of God. That God created EVERYONE uniquely perfect. He created us DIFFERENT and that should be celebrated! His heart is for ALL OF US. The cross was for ALL OF US. And the second we decide that the way someone looks, sounds, or acts makes them less worthy of that cross, less worthy of our respect, less worthy of living, we have lost sight of the heart of God. We have to show them in what we say, what we do, and through Scripture that there is only one thing that can stop this darkness and that is letting the light of God invade every crack and crevice of our lives, and then taking that light and sharing it with every. single. person. we come in contact with!
 
 
Please know I am in no way saying I have the answers to solve all of these problems, nor do I think anyone does this side of Heaven. I just want to simply share two thoughts that have been going through my mind for months. These are things I keep telling myself as I am falling asleep. Things I am trying to convince myself to do more of each day. Things that I know I need to be better at. I just want to share them with you in case you too are teetering on the edge of staying quiet or standing up to the hatred.
 
1. The most awkward and hard conversations usually produce the most fruit. I previously taught 4th grade. I have to admit, I am completely convinced that 4th grade is the BEST grade to teach! They are in the perfect stage where they are old enough to blow their own noses, most of them have lost their baby teeth (yuck), but they are right before the 5th grade/middle school attitude kicks in. All the middle school mamas say, “Amen”. That being said, one thing that is not quite developed is a 4th grader’s filter. The filter that tells you what you’re about to say is going to produce a whole lot of awkward tension. For the most part it’s harmless and left me with hilarious stories to tell my husband when I got home. But from the more serious ones, I gained experience in taking awkward conversations and turning them into teachable moments. My son has also taught me a thing or two about this while shopping in grocery stores or walking around the mall. When a kid publicly points out a disability, a racial difference, or even a personality trait that they aren’t familiar with, they are showing there is a lack of filter, a lack of understanding, and a lack of boundaries. As parents, our most common reaction to this is to silence our child, to punish them for pointing it out, leave, and to bury it as deep as we can so the awkwardness doesn’t peek back out. If we do this, we have taught our kids nothing, we have created no boundary, created more misunderstanding, and we have essentially become part of the problem. We have once again created a wall between “us” and “them”. So the question is how do we approach this? How do we stop this? We have to decide that the teaching moment is more valuable than our comfort in the situation. We have to be willing to talk to our kids in the moment about the value of life and how that does not change based on our job, our house, our skin color, our physical abilities, or spoken language. We have to be willing to do this in front of other people. We have to be willing to apologize and invite others into a dialogue that may be uncomfortable. So what does this look like in real life?
 

Both of my children are involved in therapies at our local therapy center. The waiting room is shared by children with all ranges of physical and mental abilities as well as children of all races. One week we were sitting in the room waiting when a child came in who was in a wheelchair. I could tell Hunter noticed him and he quickly turned to me. Before I could say anything, he asked loudly, “Why is that boy in that chair with wheels?”. Every bone in my body wanted to put my hand over his mouth, look down the rest of the time, and say nothing more. But when I looked into the eyes of that boy and his mom, I knew I could not let that wall be built between us. So instead, I looked at Hunter and said, “He is in a wheelchair because it helps make his body stronger and helps him go places. Why don’t you go ask him his name. Look, he has a Toy Story shirt on! You should see which one is his favorite.” We spent the next few minutes having a shared conversation about Toy Story, light-up shoes, and construction trucks. I watched as both us moms relaxed and smiled at how quickly kids see past the surface when they are lead to go there. Now I know there is so much more I should have said. I replayed this conversation in my head a thousand times, but the idea is this: don’t hide from the differences, find the common ground, and show kindness. Later, in the car, we had a more detailed conversation about how God has created us all differently and our bodies work in different ways and God has given doctors the knowledge to make things like wheelchairs, walkers, and medicine. We talked about how we need to be thankful for this and continue to pray for God to help people through miracles, doctors, and ordinary people.

These same principles can be used with race. Let’s allow our children to see the differences and ask us about them. When they do, instead of shaming them or burying the embarrassment, let’s use that moment to teach them to celebrate those differences. Let’s teach them boundaries on what is kind and not kind. Let’s have the conversation of how hatred and sin have caused people to say and do awful things but we can make a difference by what we say and do. Let’s teach our kids to find a common ground with others, to show kindness by inviting them to play, and most of all, getting to know them for who they are, not simply what they look like.

These conversations take time and these conversations have to be had over and over again. I encourage you to read Scripture to your children about God’s heart and love for the world. Research and discover the countless resources available for teaching our kids about different cultures, races, and abilities

 
2. Parents set the stage, both in their words AND in their actions. Let us not forget that while having the conversations mentioned above is so crucial to seeing a difference take place, it is equally as important to be a living example of that difference. Let us take a good, hard look at what our actions, glances, hushed comments, and body language tell our children about how we view other people. Let us take a look at who we surround ourselves with. If everyone we are surrounded by looks like us, acts like us, talks like us, and lives like us, are we really teaching our children that differences should be celebrated or are we creating a double standard? Are we seeing the differences and choosing to find common ground and show kindness, or are we staying within our bubble and slowly building an invisible wall? Are our children hearing us have conversations about how what is happening in our world is wrong and deeply breaks the heart of God, or are they hearing us make excuses for their behavior, or not saying anything at all?
 
 
These are all questions that fill my mind each night. I know I am not doing what I should. I know that I could do better. For my kid’s sake, for your kid’s sake, I want to do better. Let this be a changing point for all of us. Let this be a time where we address differences of all kinds head on, embrace the awkwardness, and move forward knowing that we just removed one brick from the wall. I pray that you will join me in praying for each of the children represented in this ministry. Pray that they will be change-makers. Ultimately, pray that they will come to know the Lord as their Savior and that they will understand the heart of God, and that understanding will turn into a desire to share His love with ALL. Let us move forward standing up against racism and hatred and showing our children that it can be stopped, one brick at a time.
 
 
 
Blessings,

Tiffany Lohse

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Hello Parents,

What a fun time we had last week! I absolutely loved seeing the beautiful art you all drew at the church! It is so encouraging to see the common love we all share for our church family and the shared desire to be back together in person when the time comes!

This week, we are changing gears once again as the majority of our members are finishing their last days of school. This week we are going to focus on celebrating the end of a school year and cherishing the memories that were created.

I know that the end of this school year is unlike any other we have experienced. Instead of throwing up textbooks and past assignments as the last bell rang, students were forced to pick up their belongings at set times while still making sure to social distance. While I think this is what had to happen to respect our community, the sadness is not lost on me. My heart breaks for the preschool children who missed the joys of growing their social skills, kindergarten students who will never get a normal first year, and the fifth graders who will leave elementary without being able to truly say bye to their primary school days. With all that said, this is where I see our God’s faithfulness! Kids are resilient and are thermometers. They adjust to the climate that is put around them. As a parent, we get to set that temperature! As this school year ends, I challenge you to set a “temperature” of thankfulness, joy, and hope. Let’s celebrate the memories that were created at school, at home, and anywhere in between. Let’s have deep conversations about the growth that took place in our ideas, in our hearts, and in our abilities. How many have spoke the words, “I could never homeschool my child”, yet here you are! You made it! Let’s choose to have hope for next year. Let’s make goals on how we are going to cherish school like never before, and how we are going to make the most of every moment we are given there.

To help you celebrate, this week I will be posting some of my favorite end of the year activities that I loved to do when I was a classroom teacher. Most of all, I will be praying the sweetest blessings over each of your children and over you as a parent. Whether you have been counting down the seconds until this school year ends or are a little sad to see this new role come to end, you did it, and that deserves to be celebrated!

Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups so you can have access to the activities! If you are not currently on social media, email me at Tiffany@broadview.church to receive the activities through email.

Broadview Preschool Ministry

Broadview Kids

Kindergarten Parents, please don’t forget to send up to 3 pictures of your child to me by Wednesday, May 20th, so they can be a part of the Kindergarten Graduation slideshow in the church livestream this week.

Blessings,

Ora, Sherry, and Tiffany

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Hello Parents,

What a beautiful week full of great weather! I hope you had fun outside and were able to start intentional conversations with your children about God and the events in the Bible. For those who missed last week, we focused on using everyday moments to talk to our kids about God, His amazing power and love, and the incredible events that played out in the Bible. I hope that you will continue to seek out opportunities to discuss these topics with your children!

This week we are going to do something very exciting! One thing I have loved seeing the last couple of months is the chalk art you and your children are doing. Those fun drawings inspired me to make this week, “Chalk at the Church”! This week I invite you and your family to come to the church and draw an encouraging picture or message on the parking lot for our church staff and family. After you have finished your art, take a picture of it with your family and post it to social media with the hashtag #ChalkattheChurch. To make sure we are respectful to our church family and community, I ask that you maintain social distancing while in the parking lot and make sure you are at least 6 feet from any other family unit that is participating. I am so excited to see the beautiful work you all do! I will be posting some ideas of chalk art on the Facebook groups throughout the week to give more ideas!

Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups:

Broadview Preschool Ministry

Broadview Kids

We are continuing to pray for all of you and cannot wait until we are together again!

Love,

Ora, Sherry, and Tiffany

 

 

 

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Hello Parents,

Let me just start by saying, last week was so fun! I loved getting to know each of you better and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the majority of us share a common love for all foods! You are my kind of people! On a serious note, I hope you were able to find connections with other families and realize the true gift God has given us in our church family.

This week we are going to focus on using ordinary, everyday moments to teach our children about God and the Bible. I think so many times we over-complicate teaching our children about God. We feel they have to be sitting at a table, Bible open on their lap, staring into our eyes in silence. If you have attempted the scene above, you probably know that for the majority of us, that just isn’t realistic and attempting it leaves us frustrated and feeling like we failed. But you know what is so cool about our God? He has given us a Bible full of amazing stories and a world full of beauty to remind us of Him. This week we are going to celebrate those gifts by using outdoor activities in the beautiful, warm weather to create authentic and engaging conversations about God and events in the Bible.

During this week, “Fun in the Son”, I will post an activity each day that can easily be done outside and a topic that can be discussed while doing so. Doing these activities and having these conversations not only teaches your child more about God and the Bible, but it allows you to become more comfortable with integrating spiritual topics into everyday conversations. I encourage you to follow along on our Facebook groups. If you are not on Facebook, you can email me at Tiffany@broadview.churchfor a complete list of the week’s activities and conversations! I hope you have a great week enjoying the beautiful weather!

Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups:

Broadview Preschool Ministry

Broadview Kids

Love,

Ora, Sherry, and Tiffany

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Monday Update for Preschool & Children

Hello Parents,

I hope you have had a great weekend! I hope last week was an encouragement to you that we can still find unity and strength during this time that we are physically apart. This week I wanted to take things in a different direction.

I want to focus on connection between us as parents. In all forms of ministry, parenting included, it is easy to become empty and dry after pouring all you have out to those you are ministering to. I have always loved the mental picture of ministry being the overflow of God in us. The idea that we have filled ourselves to the brim with God’s word, knowledge, and love, that it can’t help but spill over onto others. As parents, our most important ministry during this stage of life will always be to our children. But life with toddlers, sport’s practices, and negotiating bedtimes can be very draining. It is important that we are intentional about filling ourselves back up and allowing God to work within us. One major part of this is having the personal discipline to study God’s word. If you are struggling with this, I encourage you to map out a time, no matter how short, and find a quick study on RightNow Media. This is a great first step in carving out intentional time to meet with God and know Him more.

Another major part of filling back up is through community. God has called us to live within community because He knows this life is draining. He also knows that parenting is tough. He calls us to share our lives with others because He knows in doing so, you will find encouragement, support, accountability, and that people will see Him in new ways through each other’s lives. This idea of community sometimes seems daunting to us. Like it is just one more item to try and squeeze into our already packed schedule, but a good friend of mine helped me remove this idea. The idea of community isn’t to add a bunch of extra activities, it’s inviting others to do the daily things of life along with you. It’s adding guidance and company in a stage of life that can seem isolating. Everyone eats dinner, so why not invite someone to eat with y’all? You were going to have a family game night? Why not invite another family to join. You want to take the kids to the park for some fresh air? Invite another family to do the same. 

Now this is where you ask why I am encouraging community while we currently aren’t allowed to do these things. How do we find community while we are staying home? How do we invite others into our daily life when daily life seems different, scary, and isolating right now?

I am confident that God is not surprised by this virus. I am confident that God will use this time. What if He used this time to remove the excuses we so often hide behind? What if He is providing time for us to connect virtually in a non-threatening way. A time for us to build connections through online or phone conversations so that inviting people to “in-person life” seems less intimidating when the time comes. 

This week I am going to focus on us getting to know each other. Each day I am going to start a conversation on the Facebook groups. I encourage you to read these, comment on them, and engage in conversation with each other so that we can get to know the other parents involved. Let’s use this time to get to know the church community God has blessed us with. Let’s be brave, let’s be creative. I am praying specifically that God uses this week to form connections between parents. Connections that turn into a close-knit community. Connections that turn into doing life together and seeing God in new ways through each other. 

Please make sure you are connected to our Facebook groups:

Broadview Preschool Ministry

Broadview Kids

If you are not currently on social media, you can email me at Tiffany@broadview.church for alternative ways to stay connected!

Blessings,

Ora and Tiffany