Lord, what do we do now?

The following was shared with our Mosaic community. I share it here for pastors who might be helped with what to say, and for anyone who is ready to join us in prayer over this current crisis we are in. Read on:

These are strange days, aren’t they? When pro sports are cancelled for a whole season, and colleges are sending students home for the rest of the semester, we know we are in uncharted territory. We’re all wondering: what exactly are we to do?

The conflicting reports concerning the global viral outbreak seem to prove that no one knows exactly how to navigate this most unusual season (they definitely didn’t teach us how to handle things like this in seminary!). But even so, we are a strong and faithful community and I am confident of our character. We will figure this out together.

Let me share two kinds of thoughts — one practical and one spiritual. I hope you’ll stay with me to the end, so you can get to the good stuff about how you can actively participate in ending this crisis.

First, some practical thoughts: Like you, I continue to read about best practices, and also listen to our local professionals. The basic protections are in place at Mosaic:

  • Hand sanitizer is available throughout our facility. Frequent hand-washing is still the best way to stay healthy in any season.
  • Kids will wash hands upon entering KidCity. Their usual health guidelines will be in place (parents should have received those guidelines by email earlier this week).
  • Surfaces will be cleaned with bleach frequently.
  • Greeting one another, as disappointing as it is for a congregation that loves well, should be limited to loving smiles. We will continue to hold off on greeting each other in the service, so that folks don’t have to worry about spreading germs.
  • We encourage anyone who is not feeling well, or those who are anxious about being around others, to stay home and rest.
  • Since we hold communion about once per month, we will not be serving it again for several weeks, and will make a decision then about the best way to offer the sacrament.

There has not yet been a case of COVID-19 in our area (as of Thursday evening), but we are prepared to suspend services when that is called for. If it seems best to you to stay home on Sunday, I strongly encourage you to listen to our podcast so you can still engage the message and participate in that way. Messages are posted by Monday afternoon. I also humbly ask that you continue to give electronically in this season through Realm, our website, or by texting GiveMo to 73256.

What happens if church gatherings must be cancelled?

We encourage you to download the Zoom app now, so you’re ready should we need to livestream our service on a Sunday morning. That will be the platform we use, should we decide to livestream Sunday worship.

And now, a spiritual word:

In an article about the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore, pastors reflected on their experience and one pastor offered this word: “The biggest lesson for me has been navigating the road between fear and wisdom. It is especially tough as fear often has a way to masquerade itself as wisdom. How many precautionary measures are actually sound judgment and how many are too much, such that they teeter over into irrational fear and anxiety? It is a tough road to navigate, as we had to both convey safety to our members—by way of implementing recommended health measures—and yet not succumb to the cultural climate of fear, anxiety, and self-preservation. We do so in all our notices by ensuring that we are not just communicating measures but also casting a vision for how to be the people of God in this time.”

What a great word for all of us. How can we be the people of God in this time?

We can strike a wise and compassionate posture. I am discovering the importance of acknowledging the very real anxieties of so many, and also the importance of not feeding fear. In a time of corporate high anxiety, I believe it is both compassionate and wise for Christians to respond as those who trust in a sovereign God and an eternal realm. We can acknowledge the seriousness of this tough season and care for one another’s concerns without stoking unhealthy fears.

On facebook and in conversation, think “wise, compassionate and courageous.” That seems to be the right posture for one who has faith in Jesus.

We can pray. In fact, I would challenge you to manage your time so that you’re spending more time in prayer than in fact-gathering. Nothing we do can make more of a difference than prayer. How should we pray?

  • Call on the Lord boldly to defeat this crisis. Start there. Ask God moment by moment to kill this virus and defeat the enemy that is spreading it.
  • Pray against the politicization of this virus.
  • Pray especially for older adults (the average age of those who have died is 80), and for those in fragile health.
  • Pray for healthcare workers.
  • Pray for small businesses, churches, schools and their leaders. Making good choices is a challenge when we are all in uncharted waters.

Let’s pray TOGETHER!

On Friday afternoon (3/13) at 5:00 p.m., we will host half an hour of prayer specifically targeting this global crisis. “Zoom” is an app you can download that will allow you to participate in this conference call. You can access it by phone or computer (link below). We’ll take thirty minutes by phone to pray together over the current state of things and to seek God’s provision, healing and wisdom. Let’s use this time to build our faith in the power of prayer.

Join our Zoom prayer call on your phone by dialing 646 558 8656, and use this Meeting ID when you call in: 286 156 120#.

Feel free to spread the word about our prayer call! We can host up to 150 people on a call. Let’s storm the gates of Heaven on behalf of our world and God’s people, and seek his power to end this madness!

We need one another’s compassion and patience as we figure out how to truly be the people of God in a hard time. Keep the faith, friends. God is HERE. We are not alone.

Much, much love,
Carolyn

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Building Lives, Breaking Cycles

Today, our Mosaic community commits to a new season of ministry together. We want to gift our larger community with a Christ-centered resource that offers healing and wholeness to hurting people, so we are developing a relational, transformational system for discipling people in crisis situations. Our heart is for those who need a community — a family, a supportive partner — so they can be built up in every way into Christ who is our head and so they can break the cycles that keep them stuck (the same cycles that kept many of us stuck).

Our vision for The Mosaic Center is a vision for moving people beyond mercy to discipleship.

Once a month, we already offer something called Third Saturday (a ministry taught to us by the people of Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida). Now we are listening to the folks who come to Third Saturday to understand exactly what their next step needs to be. How do we move them from invitation to transformation? We are building a viable plan for offering the kinds of programs that break cycles and lead to sanctification.

Think of Third Saturday as the front door and The Mosaic Center as the living room. Third Saturday welcomes people in, and The Mosaic Center will offer classes, programs and mentoring that move people forward with Christ at the center.

Building people, breaking cycles.

I’ve never been more proud of our faith community. Already, our folks have proven their desire to do something significant and already they’ve shown their willingness to invest not just funds but time and skills. We plan to do this in the spirit of Exodus 35:

“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded.”

It will take all of us to make this vision a reality. Our folks are up for it. Our goal is to have a working center by the middle of 2018. If you want a business plan for this, here it is: We want to use tangibles to produce intangibles. We want to use a building to build lives and break cycles. We want to use food and classes and computers to open the doors of people’s hearts.

This is the pattern Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 9, but he didn’t make it up. The principle is built into God’s design. We find it repeated over and over in the Bible. Go back to Exodus and the building of the first tabernacle out in the desert. God used the gifts of the people to build a building and then he used the building to guide the people through the desert. In other words, the very first building designed by God was used to guide people through a desert and toward his promises. To explain the character of Christ’s new world order, Jesus used bread and wine. To heal a man, he used dirt and spit.

God has a habit of using tangibles to produce intangibles. 

This is what Paul taught the Corinthians. “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Cor. 9:12). And this is the end goal of our Harvest. We want to use practical acts of help and care — GED classes and job training and budgeting and life skills — to produce a harvest of worshippers. We want to do practical things that lead people into the presence and power of God, where they can discover he is everything he says he is.

Slowly but surely, we are working our way toward the vision of John, who saw what it will look like when all our acts of love and care culminate in worship at the throne of God:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

This is what we’re after. We’re after a harvest of souls. We recognize that this kind of harvest takes time. It takes sacrifice; it takes patience. It takes investment. Great moves of God tend to happen because of great moves of heart.

But we’re up for it because we are hungry to see the power of God and the Kingdom on earth, as it is in Heaven.

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