State of the Church
What have we done so far? Where are we currently? What is our plan moving forward?
Hello Fairlawn Baptist Church,
I am glad to get to spend a few minutes communicating our current plans and to try and answer some of the questions I have received. I want to begin by saying that at no point in the recent past has anything quite like what we are experiencing happened. This will be one of those events that will be hashed and rehashed for years afterward.
- Did we do enough?
- Should we have done more?
- Who’s fault was it?
- Should we have cancelled more?
- Should we have cancelled less?
All of these and more will be asked. Today though, those questions matter little. Today, we have to try and tread the path that others will review for times to come. Today, we are in the storm and we need to navigate it the best that we can with the guidance of God and Scripture. We are told in Psalms 91:1-6 that “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.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” We can trust the Lord in this storm.
We do not need to be afraid. But, we do need to be wise. We need to practice the safety measures that have been asked of us. This may be an inconvenience and it is difficult to maintain our distance from each other. However, this love for one another that drives us to gather is strong and should make us desire to protect one another as well. So, unfortunately we cannot be together in one place for the safety of our community and the safety of our family that is Fairlawn Baptist Church.
What have we done so far?
It is important to remember that this is bigger than our inconvenience. This is to stop a virus that has the potential to kill. I could not live with myself if I knowingly placed one of the flock I have been entrusted with in danger. My job as Pastor is more than just guiding and growing (Eph. 4), it is also to protect (Acts 20:28). That is ultimately why we took the step of cancelling services. We are a church of around 300-350 people with the potential to be even larger. The gathering guidelines put out by the authorities (whom we are told in Rom. 13:1 to obey) are much smaller than that. Therefore, until we receive the permission to meet in groups large enough to accomodate our congregation, the online worship we have been experiencing will be our method of conveying the Word.
Where are we currently?
With the Governor’s stay home order yesterday will mean that we will be changing the office hours and operation as of tomorrow. The phones will be forwarded to Holly’s home to be answered during the office hours of 8-4pm until the end of next week. At that time, due to our need to reduce the expenses of the church, the hours our secretary will be laid off. The office hours beginning the week of April 6th will be 10am to 6pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be to facilitate the ministry of the church that is still available and to allow a scheduled time for those that have needs to be met, offerings to drop off and would like to come to the building for any other reason a stated time for them to do so. Should you need assistance and not be able to call between those hours or not be able to reach them, you can contact the deacon phone at 304-483-8862 or call the individual deacons on their personal phones that is included at the end of this letter. You can contact them, and they have ways of contacting myself or whomever you may need.
We will also begin having an online live prayer service each Wednesday night. Pastor Rick will be leading this but, I also plan to be available as well. Sunday night, I know a couple of our D-Group classes have already made plans to meet online to continue studying their material. I will begin doing the same this week. Sunday night at 6pm. I will be restarting the study since there may be several that have not been with us during the study. I will have a live feed setup for you to join me as I teach through Spiritual Formation. I know these options are not what all of us wish we could do. However, they are the best we can do for now. Please continue to pray for us as we navigate these challenging times.
What is our plan moving forward?
We chose a course of action that errs on the side of safety. That course is the one we will continue to follow. We continue to look at options for services going forward. However, much of what we may or may not do will be impacted by the restriction on gathering size that is in place at the time.
When will this end? I do not know. The best estimates that I have seen place the restrictions in place for several weeks. I have heard dates as early as Mother’s Day for potential meeting sizes large enough for us to gather and as late as July 4th. The bottom line is that this will not be over in a couple of weeks. While the guidelines will likely continue to change, the size of our church requires a sizable reversal of the restrictions. These restriction went into place at a step up rate and I imagine they will be released in a similar fashion.
I would however, like to call on our small group leaders to consider doing some type of online or teleconference get togethers during this shutdown. We will gladly help you to record and post anything you need help with. We intend to make DVDs of our online videos available for those who cannot, or do not, use the internet. Those will be available to be delivered if you will simply contact us letting us know the best time to bring them to you. Also, I want to make you aware that we have a membership as a church to LifeWay’s smallgroup.com where you can do assign studies to your group and even find videos and study guides to better help with this. This is something that can be accessed by notifying us that you would like to use it. We will then send you an invite in an email. You will then be able to add others to your group. We will be glad to help to help you if you have any issue using the software.
We have been contemplating the options for doing communion on Easter and we believe we have come to a workable solution for this. We will offer a pickup of the communion supplies in prepackaged containers before Easter Sunday and for two hours on Easter morning. You will pick those up and then join us for our online service where we will all partake together. I would highly encourage you to invite members of our congregation to come to your home to watch that Sunday, or any Sunday, that do not have access to the internet. Remember that we can gather in small groups under 10 so please make use of the gatherings we can have to invite someone to worship with you in your home. We will also be planning, and filming, a baptism service on the 5th of April that will be part of our online church service.
We also intend to begin offering delivery for needed items for those who cannot, or would prefer not, to go out. We can pickup groceries, toiletries, prescriptions or whatever else you may need. We can bring it to your home, you can leave the money for the items outside, and we will drop the items off on your porch so that contact can be kept at a minimum.
Also, if you need anything at all, for any reason, please realize that we are still here for you. We love you and we want to be able to minister to you.
I need t touch on an item that is sometimes sensitive and even more so in this time with all the challenges that are being faced by many of you. I need to personally ask that you not forget about financially supporting the church. There are utilities, mortgage and staff salaries that will need to be maintained even during this time. I am sadly aware that churches will struggle in this regard during this crisis in our country. I anticipate that businesses will close do to the financial struggles and churches will suffer the same fate if we do not remain faithful in our giving. Our church has always responded in time of need and I am confident you will do the same here. Please pick one of the giving paths we have provided to continue you cheerful giving to our church and ministry.
Finally, stay safe. I know how difficult it is to sit in your house when you want to go somewhere, anywhere. Obey the guidelines that have been put forth. Look out for one another. Pray for one another. Pray for me. I will pray for you. We will get through this! God will guide and we need to trust Him to do so.
Thank you and God Bless!
Pastor Jason Spade
P.S. If you need anything at all during this time, please contact with one of the ways listed below;
Contact numbers for the church and deacons
Office number – 304-863-6782
- Deacon phone – 304-483-8862
- Dave Wills – 304-481-3987
- Michael Caplinger – 304-488-6638
- Bob Hall – 304-588-0742
- Mark Welch – 304-483-6415
- Randy Jarvis – 304-483-0585
- Randy Thompson – 304-481-6723
- Rick Morgan – 304-482-6095
- Eric Clark – 757-567-6698
- Kevin Mahaffey – 304-615-0006
- Pastor Jason – 304-482-3793
**As a reminder, you have an option to give to the ministry while we are going through this time by using our online e-giving by clicking this link. https://onrealm.org/FairlawnBaptist/give/now **