COVID-19

OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19

June 2020

Introduction

We believe the body of Christ is called to be both a faithful presence and witness to our city. We stand on the reality that the people of Jesus have worshipped historically and globally under all circumstances, including threats, war, and persecution. Following our rich Christian history, we can take any form to express our worship of Jesus Christ. From filling large rooms to gatherings of 2-3 people, Jesus has promised to be among us.

At this moment, we continue to gather in homes and through technology. We look forward to gathering again in person, and yet, we are seeing God work in incredible ways as He draws people close to himself.

We honour our national, provincial, and civic leaders, and appreciate the complexity and unprecedented challenges they face. We will work together so that every person remains safe and the vulnerable people in our church and neighbourhoods receive care. We commit to continue worshipping in new ways and serving our city courageously and generously while employing the safety protocols recommended by our province.

British Columbia has made significant progress in its fight against COVID-19. On May 6, Premier John Horgan outlined BC’s restart plan for slowly and carefully easing restrictions. City Life Church is working to navigate the changes within all of the unique contexts of the church.

We choose to comply with the province’s phases at this time.

We will continue to learn, innovate, and be a collective witness of God’s love and salvation during a challenging time for our world.

We will continue to pray for our leaders, their health, safety, wisdom, and perseverance.

We applaud our front-line workers, who carry a tremendous burden during this time.

We grieve with those who have lost loved ones in this season.

We pray for those who have lost their jobs, for businesses, and those suffering financially.

We want to be found to be good neighbours who love and care for our city, families, and neighbourhoods.

Guiding Spiritual Principles

How we conduct ourselves in moments of crises reveal what is in us. When we walk through challenging moments in our lives, pressure is applied to our attitudes and actions and who we are is revealed. What a beautiful moment this is for the church to be an example and ambassador of Christ to the world, exhibiting his love, grace, and supernatural peace. On the other hand, this moment in time will reveal the things in our lives that He wants to adjust and transform. (Hebrews 12:3-11) 

The following are some guiding biblical principles that we want to affirm in this season. These help to guide our response and action. 

We trust in God.

We do not live in fear, but in confident assurance that, no matter what is happening around us, we are held in God’s hands. His presence is with us and He promises to stay close.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1–2

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

We embrace God’s love.

As fear, anxiety, and worry attempt to settle into our hearts and minds, we choose to meditate upon God’s great love for us. Because He loves us, we have assurance and confidence that our future is in him.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow… indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:38–39

We clothe ourselves with the peace of Christ.

We will ask the Holy Spirit to help us live as examples of those who have Christ at the center and foundation of our lives.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… forgiving each other… And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:12,14-15

Moving Forward

“We are not waiting for the church to re-open… the church was never closed.”

Although we have not been able to meet for weekend services, the church is very much alive and functioning, because we are the church!

That being said, there aren’t many substitutes to the in-person gathering. We all miss it because there is an anointing, dynamic, and presence of God that is active as we gather that cannot be replicated. There is a joy in being together and an atmosphere where God can truly impact lives.

We look forward to the time that we can be together again, and it will come. But the heart of our mission is to see lost people saved, saved people pastored, pastored people discipled, and discipled people mobilized. This is expressed in our purpose: to Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, and Make a Difference. As long as we can do this, we can and will move forward.

We want to progress in tandem with the social changes as they happen. This means that we are not going to jump ahead and gather in spite of the risks and warnings. However, we also are not going to lag behind. When the time comes that we can move forward with gatherings both large and small, we want to be ready to do so. In the meantime, we are leaning into the mission and open to God doing a new thing in our church.

In an effort to clearly communicate, we are presenting where we have come from, where we are now, and how we move forward from here, in phases.

Phase 1: (March – May)

  • Sudden shift to not gathering for weekend services
  • Quick adaptation to online weekend services to stay connected
  • Refocus on the importance of people and relationships – Online Life Groups
  • Strengthening of our personal relationship with God
  • A season to build a trust in God like never before as we face unique challenges together

Phase 2: (May – June) – This is where we are right now

  • Continued commitment to online small group gatherings
  • Encouragement to reach out to our neighbours and friends
  • Fresh passion for the mission Christ has given us
  • Continued revitalization within our spiritual lives
  • Commitment to live out our faith in Christ even in a season where methods have changed

The next phase is where we are moving to over the next several months and, likely, into the fall season. Our desire is to see a greater mobilization of the church. We believe that this is a season where people can be equipped and released to use their giftings in a greater dynamic than maybe ever before. It is a season where those who have felt stuck can embrace a season of God rekindling and enlarging vision.

In this season, we must lean into our small group gatherings. However, we are not just embracing small groups, but supporting a greater mobilization of people to be the church like never before. This will happen within a small group context at this time, but the goal is the mobilization of people.

This means that this is a season where the giftings of the Holy Spirit in us can rise up and be put into practice to an even greater intent. This is exciting because as we step forward in our lives, the church will advance, and the message of the gospel will expand its influence.

Phase 3: (June – September, along with community phase progression) – This is where we are moving to.

  • Primary focus on equipping, discipling, and mobilizing the church in an accelerated, catalytic season
  • Strengthening the small group gatherings in one or a combination of the following:
    • Life Group leadership development
    • Small groups meeting together ONLINE for church. Groups watching a service on their own and connecting online following the service.
    • Small groups meeting together IN-PERSON for church. Groups watching the service together in a home and connecting after for prayer, discussion, etc.
    • Small groups meeting in-person while following safety measures and as society norms continue to expand and allow.
  • Continued online weekend services
  • New models of serving that extend beyond the traditional Sunday gatherings
  • Outreach: Greater focus on outreach within families and small gatherings with neighbours and friends, while seeking continued creativity in community outreach as a church.
  • Ministry: Greater emphasis on equipping individuals and families to be more effective in spiritual formation.
  • Support for funerals while following small gathering guidelines
  • Support for weddings while following small gathering guidelines

Phase 4: (TBD)

  • Return to large gatherings
  • Fresh focus toward the mission, mobilization and revitalization of our hearts to the future purposes that God has for us
  • Continued commitment to online weekend service expression
  • Continued commitment to small group gatherings
  • Ministry launching season, growth of God’s kingdom

What does this mean for ministries?

Ministry to kids, youth, and the church in general has to shift from what we have traditionally embraced. 

We have to lean towards small gatherings verses large ones. As a church staff, we have to move toward resourcing and empowering the church to be the church more than ever before. We have to rely less on the Sunday weekend service. However, we believe that we can be who God has made us to be and become more effective than ever.

For more detailed information as to how different areas of ministry are serving in this season, please see our website.

General Guidelines

As we begin to gather in small groups, we will honour the guidelines our leaders have established.

At this point there has been an easing of restrictions to allow the following:

  • Gatherings of up to 50 people
  • In personal settings, gatherings of 2-6 people
  • Opening of parks and outdoor spaces

There are health and hygiene practices that undergird these new allowances and easing of restrictions.

  • To stay informed, be prepared, and to follow public health advice. This is a fluid situation and things can change quickly.
  • Practice good hygiene: frequent hand washing, avoid touching your face, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
  • Stay at home if you are feeling ill.
  • Maintain physical distancing outside your household, which means no handshaking or hugging, keep a limited number of contacts.

Our Mission

(Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, Make a Difference)

It is important to remember that the church is not built upon a weekend service experience. Our mission still moves forward. We still can operate as the church: reaching the lost, growing, and making a difference with our lives.

This is a moment where we need to grab hold of the mission, think creatively and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Know God: We have to personally lean into our relationship with God. We are working to resource you and help you in this, but God is present and working right in your life and in your home as you seek him and love him.

Find Freedom: We have to intentionally grow. Part of this is connecting with people in Life Groups. Part of this is asking God to work within our lives. What is God working to do in you? What is He putting his finger on in this season? We want to help one another and stand together to come through this season stronger and with greater freedom and joy in our lives than before.

Discover Purpose: We can lean into our purpose. God has gifted each of us and perhaps this is a season where God can make those things come alive more than ever before. This is a time where your purpose can come alive in serving a neighbour, or praying with a friend who needs help. It could be leading a small group for the first time and catching a heart for God using you in a new capacity.

Make a Difference: We can make a difference. Perhaps we’ve seen purpose too closely connected to serving on a team on a Sunday morning. Yes, those are ways that we can and will again impact people with, but we can still make a difference without a Sunday service to serve at. This next season will open opportunities to serve in some new ways, but the driving force of impact within our community is going to be each of us living with a mission to make a difference in our community. What a great opportunity this is!

Final Thoughts:

This is a season not to focus upon what we have lost, but to focus on what God is adding to our lives and to us, as a church community. We could come through this season frustrated, discouraged, and without faith for the future. Let’s not allow that to happen to us.

How you view things determines how you do things. How you view this season will determine how you respond to it. Is it possible to come through this season with greater faith? Greater passion for what God is doing in our lives? Greater excitement for the mission God has given us? Greater focus on reaching lost people? Greater creativity in ministering to the hurting and broken people in our city? Greater vision to expand the kingdom of God? Yes, it most definitely is! Let’s be those people.

It is our heart to walk through this together and do everything we can to support, encourage, and strengthen one another. Let’s rally together and be the church in a season where the church is needed and the message we carry can make a difference!