Two weeks ago, we made the difficult decision to cancel all regular services through the end of March. These two weeks have proven difficult for us all to be physically isolated from one another. Honestly, we really miss seeing you, worshipping with you, serving alongside you, and laughing with you. We love you! It is because of our love for you that we must announce that First Baptist is cancelling all regular services indefinitely. We are eagerly waiting for the day when we can all come back together to worship, celebrate, and perhaps even mourn together. In fact, we are even starting to formulate some plans for what that day will look like when it comes. Unfortunately, that day is not today and may not be soon. Until then, we must continue to to be the church – physically separated but united in spirit and truth. For reasons we do not completely understand, God has placed us in some very unique times. We live, worship, and minister in a time of social distancing and physical separation. Yet, at the same time we live in a time when technology can help keep us connected to a degree that we could not have imagined not that many years ago. We want to thank you for the countless positive comments you have made about yesterday’s YouTube worship service. We are currently finalizing details for more services for the coming weeks, including Good Friday and Easter. In addition to our daily devotions, Pastor Jason will be continuing our Wednesday night study in Malachi via video beginning on Wednesday, April 8. Our students have already begun meeting online via Zoom. Our deacon body is reaching out to their families consistently, and we know many of you are checking up on one another. Staying connected and serving Jesus by serving one another is exactly what the church was always intended to do – we’re just having to do it a little differently right now. Know that we love you! Even though these times can be frightening, always remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7). Stay focused on Jesus so that all we do may be for His glory and our neighbor’s good.
Yesterday I was reminded of a story from the life of Jehoshaphat – one of the kings of Judah – from 2 Chronicles 20. An enormous army was coming to attack the people of Judah, and Jehoshaphat was terribly afraid. Rather than fleeing the battle, trying to make peace, or wallowing in fear, Jehoshaphat “resolved to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3). He called for all the people of Judah to join him in prayer and fasting asking God to show them what to do. While I encourage you to take a few moments and read through the whole story, let me give you the spoiler – God responded to His people’s cry for help. He gave them clear instructions. God’s people responded in obedience, and God gave them a powerful victory. I confess that I really needed that reminder yesterday. I needed to be reminded that I must be resolved to seek the Lord always but even more so in times of fear and uncertainty. These are such times. It is so very easy to become fearful in these times of business closings, events being cancelled, and constant updates regarding the number of those who are sick. It seems as though everything that was certain a few weeks ago is suddenly on very unstable ground. I understand this because, if I’m really honest, I’m experiencing many of the same emotions. I know God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment; but sometimes that truth is much easier to say than it is to live. I needed to be reminded yesterday that I can take my fear and uncertainty to the God of the universe when I resolve to seek Him. Yesterday, Matthew Jones, Cory Bennett, and I met with the leaders of several churches in our Independence Baptist Association in Batesville. During that meeting, we were briefed by two medical professionals regarding the newest information from Princeton virology and, more locally, at White River Health System. All the information we are receiving is that the COVID-19 virus is incredibly resilient and difficult to kill. A few hours after that meeting, we received word of the White House recommendations that Americans refrain from gathering in groups of more than 10 people for the next fifteen days (through March 31). This information has weighed heavily on my heart. I love you. I love to worship with you. I love to hear you sing and to open Scripture with you. I love to laugh and cry with you. You are my family. I love that I am not the only one who feels this way. Based on the information available, we began to pray about how God would have us respond. I believe God has spoken clearly, and after consulting with our deacon body, I am confident in God’s leadership. First Baptist is cancelling all regularly scheduled church activities beginning today through March 31. We will continue to work with the Mountain View School District to distribute food to those students and families who rely upon those meals. The church office will continue to operate according to regular office hours at this time. We are currently looking at all options related to online streaming or recording new services, and we will provide information to you as soon as possible once those decisions are finalized. If you are not aware, you can access nearly 3 1/2 years worth of recording services (including music and my sermons) through our website, our podcast site, iTunes Podcast, Google Music, and iHeart Radio. My first sermon series at First Baptist was in the fall of 2016. It was titled Be the Church. Those words have never been more true. While we will not be meeting together physically over the next few weeks, we are still the church. We are still called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our homes and our community. Ministry will continue. Serve your neighbor. Love those closest to you. Worship together as a family. We are the Church, and right now God has allowed this virus to scatter us for a season so that our ministry might multiply. He is going to use this to grow His Kingdom. God is going to use this to grow you and me. God has gifted and equipped you and me. He has chosen to place you and me in these crazy times. He has prepared us for such a time as this. Let us go be the Church, and may God allow everything we do to be for His glory and our neighbor’s good! Your servant, Jason Ingram Senior Pastor email@example.com
Today has been an incredible day of worshipping together! Unfortunately, we also need to announce our first schedule change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First Baptist will be cancelling our regularly scheduled activities on Wednesday, March 18. We also want to remind you that all regularly scheduled activities had already been cancelled for Wednesday, March 25 following our tradition of not having activities during Spring Break. We will continue to monitor the situation and make further schedule changes as prudent. We love you, and we would love nothing more than to worship and serve alongside you! If we will make these sacrifices together to protect ourselves and those we love, we can do our part to help overcome this virus. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7). Pray for one another! Support one another! We will be in contact again soon!
We have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7). While we refuse to live in fear, we must also embrace the spirit of power, love, and sound judgment we have been given. The link below will connect you with a pdf of the First Baptist COVID-19 Response Guide. In this fluid and ever-changing environment, we understand there will be ministry opportunities and challenges that may not be included in this Response Guide. However, we believe it appropriate to begin where we are. COVID-19 Response Guide
It is amazing how much things can change over the course of a week! Last week many of us were attending or listening to our Lady Yellowjackets in the state semifinals basketball game. Today, sports arenas are empty. A week ago, we all had plenty of toilet paper, canned goods, and pasta. Now many of us are looking at our pantries and hoping we have enough. Changes seem to be occurring by the minute, and it is so very easy for these changes to lead to fear, panic, and poor judgment. All of this is understandable; after all, none of us have experienced anything quite like this. During times such as these, we need to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7). We have absolutely no doubt our God is greater and more powerful than the COVID-19 virus. We have no doubt that this virus and these events have not taken Him by surprise. While we must reject fear, we must also utilize this spirit of power, love, and sound judgment. The First Baptist family will meet for all scheduled activities on Sunday, March 15, 2020. We will celebrate the God whose love never changes during a time of seemingly endless change. We will celebrate His limitless power in a time when so many of us may feel powerless. Tomorrow is a day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice in it. As sound judgment dictates, there will be a few changes. First, we will set aside our regular time of greeting our church family. Fist bumps, elbow bumps, waving, and the “air high five” are all great ways to say hello to our church family. Second, we will be changing our methods for presenting our offerings during worship. We will not pass offering plates during worship; instead, there will be baskets or boxes set up near the entrance doors. Please feel free to worship through giving by simply placing your offering in the basket or box as you enter or leave. There is no pressure to give, but we will have someone near the entrances simply to be certain that no one walks out with everyone else’s offering. We understand that several churches in our area have cancelled or adjusted their services and schedules. These churches have made their decision at the leading of the same Holy Spirit that indwells us. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We wish them nothing but the best Christ has for them, and we will be of service to them in any way we can just as they would do for us. We will be ending our study on Family a week early. It seems more appropriate to address the COVID-19 outbreak and how we should respond as believers from a Biblical perspective. Everything we share will be available on our website fbcmountainview.org and our FaceBook page no later than Tuesday afternoon, March 17. We love you! We are committed to continuing to minister with excellence. We also understand that ministry may look a bit different for a season. While we welcome anyone and everyone to worship with us tomorrow, we also ask you to use sound judgment. If you are not feeling well, please contact us so we can pray for you and help you as you recover. However, if you are not feeling well, we encourage you to stay home and recover because your sacrifice will help prevent the spread of the illness. If you are in a high risk category for the seasonal flu or for COVID-19 due to age or a health condition, please consider staying at home as well. We love you, and we would love nothing more than to worship and serve alongside you! Right now, we may need to be apart for a while, but this virus will not last forever. I am looking forward to seeing you and worshipping with you tomorrow even more than I always do! We do not know what we will face in the weeks ahead, but tomorrow we will worship! Tomorrow we will present an offering of praise and worship to Jesus! At least for tomorrow, we will be together as a church family! Let us pray together that God will intervene and halt this virus! Let us pray for those who are ill and have lost loved ones! Let us pray for our leaders, physicians and scientists, and our first responders that God would grant them wisdom, health, and protection! Let all we say and do be for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good! I can’t wait to see you tomorrow! Your servant, Jason Ingram Senior Pastor firstname.lastname@example.org