Leadership Updates During covid-19



March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020
 
Dear Santa Barbara Community Church family,
 
We are now a few weeks into our new patterns of life, and are beginning to see the results of the global pandemic of COVID-19 right here in our own church family. Increasingly, we are hearing stories of job loss, financial hardships, and uncertainty around retirement and the fluctuations of the stock market. Yet, as Mike reminded us yesterday, in times like these we are heartened to remember that we do not follow Christ individually, but as a part of a family. And in times of distress families rally together to take care of one another.

To that end, we want to ask you to watch this short video encouragement from Benji (below) that highlights one significant way that some of us in our church family can demonstrate our support of not only our immediate church family but also our extended church family of missions partners around the world.
 
Also, as we start to see our material and social needs more clearly, let’s press on in the work of prayer. As a reminder, SBCC is hosting four weekly corporate prayer gatherings via Zoom: Monday at noon, Wednesday at 6:45a and noon, and Friday at noon. (For those of you who tried unsuccessfully to join us at noon today- sorry! Try again later this week. We will be ready!)  You can lend your voice to one of these prayer meetings by clicking HERE.
 
As we’ve indicated before, if you find yourself with new needs in this season, be sure to let us know by submitting your need HERE.
 
Finally, if you would be willing to share a Scripture with your church family for this Sunday’s worship service, please download the attached instructions for more info HERE.
 
As we head toward Holy Week, let us remain confident in the provision of our good Father, walk in the faithful steps of Jesus, our Older Brother, and continue to love our siblings in the Lord well through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Benji and Mike

In this season of great challenge, one way we can live out our family commitments is through faithful and even sacrificial giving. Watch this short video for an encouragement from Benji on how consistency in this aspect of our discipleship can bless our immediate and far-flung family of faith!


March 23, 2020

Dear SBCC Family,

As this global pandemic brings mounting consequences to our area and even members of our own church family, aim to live as the people of God in the midst of uncertainty. This means, among other things, that we cast our anxieties on him; that we seek to love one another creatively and practically; and that we pray without ceasing. To that end, find resources below to stay connected to God and each other during this season…

Read and Meditate on God’s Word.

Yesterday Benji shared an encouraging message about our BIG God from Isaiah 40. There is so much good stuff in this remarkable chapter! You can find a helpful personal study guide here for this section of scripture.

Press into Prayer.

  • Corporate Led Prayer via Zoom* –  Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 12-1pm and Wednesdays at 6:45-7:45am. Drop in for part of the time if you can’t put in a whole hour. Click this Zoom Meeting ID link to join in: https://zoom.us/j/3570645865
  • Fasts and Pray – Many local churches are encouraging their people to set aside Wednesdays to fast and pray for an end to this global crisis. Consider how you might participate in this effort along with the local body of Christ! ">READ this for more information.
  • Let us pray for you and assist with help for any practical needs you may have by using the form HERE
  • Use the weekly PRAYER GUIDE we’ve created to bring our praise and intercession before the Lord.

Stay connected on Instagram.

Last week we launched a new church Instagram! account. Follow us @sbcommunity_church to receive timely updates, information, and more!

Church, though we miss being together in our regular ways, we can keep being a church that trusts in God, prays with and for one another, and invests in one another’s spiritual lives. Let’s expect God to move in profound ways even as we think creatively about what it means to be the church in these unique times.

Benji and Mike  

*New to Zoom? See this Zoom FAQ page which provides quick instructions: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting

March 16, 2020

Dear Santa Barbara Community Church family,

What a very different Sunday yesterday was! We heard many stories of groups who gathered in smaller-than-usual numbers which allowed for maintaining recommended social distance while still being together in worship. We hope the video provided for worship was helpful as you declared God’s praise either on your own or with a small group. In particular, we are grateful for the above-and-beyond efforts of our remarkable church staff who compiled and created the wide range of age-appropriate resources available through the “Worship Resources” portal on the website.

As this situation has rapidly evolved and the Santa Barbara Public Health Department has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the county, our church leadership has become increasingly convinced that our best course of action moving forward is to follow the strong recommendations of medical professionals and discourage further group meetings for the foreseeable future. Additional conversations with front-line professionals in both healthcare and biology helped to solidify the rationale for this decision. In short, choosing to stay home may prove to be the most practical way to “love your neighbor as yourself” in these uncertain days. (Some of the thinking that has influenced ours can be found here, here, and here.)

While we will continue to provide opportunities to connect and worship virtually on Sundays in ways similar to this past weekend, until the COVID-19 outbreak turns a corner, we are suspending activities on the SBCC campus and suggesting that SBCC members suspend activities that require gathering together in a single location. What does this decision mean for church life? It means that we face a unique opportunity to live out the “community” aspect of our very name. Be quick to pick up the phone and call someone in the coming days just to check in. Write a letter or a postcard and drop it in the mail. Start that text group you’ve been meaning to initiate and then send out your prayer requests. Utilize the wide variety of digital meeting technologies (Zoom, Marco Polo, Google Hangouts, etc) available to you so that you can still see the faces of your church family members. We must make a concerted effort to press into connection with one another through creative means.

As we’ve stated before, these decisions–difficult as they are–are not driven by fear, but rather by a desire to be wise stewards of our immediate church family and our broader local community. For four decades we have declared boldly and loudly that the church is a people, not a place. Now is the time to be the church, even as we are scattered and sheltering-in-place. Let’s reach out to our elderly members who are at greater risk of infection and perhaps isolation. Let’s also be especially mindful of those for whom work quarantines and church meeting cancellations may result in not only profound social disruption but also significant time alone. Let’s readily rally to the aid of those who may need us to live out our faith in practical ways in the days and weeks ahead. (As a reminder, if you have a prayer request or practical need, please submit it here.) In short, though we now are being asked–for the welfare of the city–to forego gathering in close quarters, let us not give up being the church with and for one another.

Be on the lookout for emails with additional information and links that can help you to continue to grow in Christ and make disciples even as the normal patterns of life are interrupted. Please let us know if there are ways we can come alongside you or if you have ideas for how we can better serve our community. We love you, will miss being with you in a face-to-face way, and are here to walk alongside you on this uncharted road of faith.

Benji and Mike (on behalf of the Elders and staff of SBCC)


March 12, 2020

Dear Santa Barbara Community Church family,

In the COVID-19 update on Tuesday, March 10, we wrote, “this is a changing situation, and so our response will undoubtedly change as well.” We had little idea at the time just how true this was! Two days later, the pace of change is striking and we wanted to update you again on the plans for worship gatherings at SBCC.

In accordance with the California Department of Public Health’s recommendation, we have decided that we will not meet together as usual on Sundays through the end of March. We want to give a brief rationale and then explain how we are moving forward.

As we indicated earlier this week, we are not people who live out of fear but out of faith. We want to let you know that the decision to suspend our services the next few Sundays is not driven by fear. Rather, we are seeking to love one another and our larger community well. Love seeks the welfare of the other– and certainly this includes their physical welfare. Our community health experts have determined that we have an opportunity to help shorten the duration and intensity of this coronavirus pandemic by not gathering in large groups. We also remember the words of Paul in Romans 13 about being subject to governing authorities and showing them respect. We feel that following their recommendation is a way that we can show our government leaders honor.

The decision to not hold our regular services does not mean that we cannot gather in other ways to worship or to serve! We are not “canceling church,” but temporarily shifting the ways that our church family does life and worship together. So here is our plan for this weekend… We encourage you to meet in homegroups or other small group gatherings. In the next day or two, we will provide the following worship resources for this Sunday (HERE):

  • Scripture readings on fear & faith
  • a video of a briefer sermon from Genesis 6
  • a video of our worship team along with a lyric sheet you can use to worship in song together
  • some resources from our children’s ministry to engage children in worship as well

Our hope in providing these resources is to be helpful, not restrictive. We encourage you to think creatively and look for opportunities to serve and love people around you in the name of Christ. If you are not a part of a homegroup and would like to worship or serve with others over the coming weeks, we encourage you to connect with those in your church family.

If you’re unsure of where to start, our Homegroups Pastor, Erin Patterson (), could be a good resource to connect you to other members of our church family in your neighborhood.

These are interesting times indeed! Some churches and groups will continue to meet while others will decide not to. Some families will choose to continue doing things much as usual while others will decide to make significant changes to their routines. As we all make decisions we have no experience making, let us be gracious to those who decide to do things differently than we would. Above all, in this unprecedented season, let’s continue to be people of prayer, faith, and steadfast confidence in our Lord.

Benji and Mike (on behalf of the Elders and staff of SBCC)


March 10, 2020

Santa Barbara Community Church family,
 
As reports on the Coronavirus [COVID-19] and its effects continue to lead our news cycles, we want to assure you that we are giving careful attention to how this impacts our life together as a church family.  Because we want to love one another and the larger community well, we have an obligation to consider how we can work together to minimize the spread of this virus. Based on information gathered from the CDC, the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department we have begun to put a plan in place for dealing with this situation as a church family. Obviously, this is a changing situation, and so our response will undoubtedly change as well, but for now we wanted to let you know about some precautions we are taking and some steps you can take.

Precautionary steps we’re taking:

  • Our facilities are always cleaned regularly, but we are taking extra steps during this time to sanitize our campus.  We will be more frequently wiping down commonly touched surfaces around the campus.
  • Coffee service will still be provided, but we are suspending self-service for now.  You will be served by a volunteer to reduce the number of hands touching the coffee pumps.
  • We will not observe the Lord’s Supper this Sunday and are considering alternate ways to celebrate it in the future.
  • Our children and youth ministry teams are thinking through ways to ensure our young people are well cared for.  Those of you who have children will be receiving further communication from these ministry teams.

Precautionary steps you can take:

  • Please stay home if you are not feeling well.  If you are unsure whether you should stay home, please consult the website links listed above.
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean up after yourself.  Please do not leave any coffee cups, announcement sheets, or especially tissues behind when you leave an area.
  • While we want to continue to have a friendly atmosphere, we ask that you offer an elbow or fist bump instead of the usual handshake or hug.

As important as it is for us to respond responsibly to all that we are facing, it is just as important that we remember to think biblically about all of life’s challenges.  This means we remember that…
 
God is sovereign.
As we’ve been seeing in our study of Genesis, all of creation and each of one of us individually belong to the One who made it all and loves us deeply.  This means that we are not a people driven by fear but by faith. God says through the prophet Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).  We take comfort in the fact that God has numbered our days and he will fulfill his purposes for our lives. We also want to couple our belief in God’s sovereignty with the pursuit of godly wisdom. With the psalmist, we pray, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). With that in mind, we don’t give in to a culture of panic or paranoia nor do we waste our time prioritizing the pursuit of comfort, wealth, or longevity.  Rather we make it our aim to seek God and his kingdom first.
 
We are called to love.
Throughout history, Christians have adorned the gospel of Jesus by responding with love in times of community crisis.  They cared for the sick during the plagues that swept through their homelands. They cared for the vulnerable and sought the welfare of the cities in which God had placed them.  Is this really that surprising?  Shouldn’t those who have experienced the compassion of God be quick to show compassion as well?  Let us be creative in thinking about how we can love our neighbors.  And let us be aware that often when faced with reminders of our mortality, people are more receptive to hearing about the hope that we have in Christ. So let us love boldly in word and deed!
 
We will continue to update you as we keep an eye on the latest developments and consult with authorities.  May God continue to use us to make his name great in Santa Barbara and beyond!
 
Benji and Mike (on behalf of the elders)