The landscape has changed, but the Way of Jesus remains the same.

Church of God Ministries is committed to providing practical resources to help our Movement along #theway, both during this time and into a stronger future together.

theway

A Message from General Director Jim Lyon

Every day, the news becomes more sobering. Projections that define the coming weeks as a stage for millions of people infected and hundreds of thousands dead, felled by an insidious and invisible foe, the coronavirus, are jaw-dropping. The economy grinding to a standstill, tens of millions of Americans and Canadians thrown out of work, businesses closed, and uncertainty pervasive: this is the stuff of Hollywood disaster movies, only this is not a film, it is not fiction. The challenges are all too real.

And, our churches are closed. Well, actually, the church has not closed, just our houses of worship have been closed. The church remains a dynamic and living organism, staring at startling opportunity, even in the midst of the crisis.

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The virus cannot be seen by the naked eye—we cannot point to it, saying, “There it is.” “Here, I’ve located it.” Similarly, but more positively, the Kingdom can neither be pinpointed in this way. “The Kingdom of God cannot be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” That’s Jesus talkin’ (Luke 17:20–21). Even as the virus has invaded our world for harm, the Kingdom can invade for good. The virus has expanded its influence exponentially; perhaps, we can, too.

Church of God Ministries has been working for weeks to address two “buckets” in the wake of the pandemic: how do we (the Church of God) survive and how do we (the Church of God) serve? One track cannot succeed without the other. Indeed, unless we serve, it is unlikely that we will survive.

The temptation in times like these, divorced from the luxury of our ordinary routines, is to hunker down and focus on self-preservation. We must be smart and alert, frankly staring down our challenges, as we try to keep our footing and capacity afloat. At the same time, we must look at the world around us and seize the moment for Gospel work, for ministry to a world disoriented and afraid. Uncertainty reigns, at every turn. We’re a people, alternatively, who stand on transcendent, fixed certainty: Jesus is Lord. Of all. Of everything. Even in these turbulent days.

This is not a day to contract, but to dream. To be smart about the opportunities to serve, even as we are smart about the moves we must make to survive. This week, I joined a secular webinar, at the invitation of Mid-America Christian University president John Fozard, that explored ways in which business is pivoting for new opportunities in a world of sudden new needs and wants. Some companies are shrinking, unable to adapt quickly; Amazon is hiring 100,000, moving rapidly to speak into a world at home. We are not arguing here for corporate ambitions or throwing stones at those struggling; we are acknowledging this is not a time to be afraid so much as it is a time to be bold. Creative. “This is the time when you will make or break your brand,” said the Harvard professor on today’s webinar; perhaps, this is a time when our churches will make or break our witness, as we make choices about ministry in the face of the pandemic.

On this web page, Church of God Ministries is posting best practices, resources, and links, all screened by the lens of trusted ministry partners and professionals (like our friends at ECFA, Servant Solutions, Faithlife, Church Alliance, Brotherhood Mutual, and more). Whether you’re looking for straightforward help with online technology or how to access benefits of the American government’s CARES Act, or wondering what is the latest, authoritative guidance on public health and safety, you will find it here.

We are also posting here the latest news and developments with regard to our Church of God events, conferences, and conventions. Much of our events calendar has been suspended, some remains in place, waiting for events to unfold. But, again, if you want best information about our Church of God Regional Conventions or the International Youth Convention scheduled for later in 2020, this is your go-to. We are daily reviewing content and updating.

Ben Shular chairs our Special Event Response Team (SERT) at Church of God Ministries; SERT meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to review the news, the challenges, the opportunities, and the resources in front of us. SERT is comprised of key staff on all fronts, both representing our footprints in the USA and Canada and abroad. Even as we in the United States and Canada wrestle with the pandemic, we must not forget the Church of God in 90 other countries staring down the monster, as well. With responsibility for full-time staff in 26 other countries and networking the Church of God globally, this dimension of the crisis is on the table for all of us, too.

Thanks for weathering the storm with us. Thanks for being faithful. Thanks for never giving up. Thanks for being generous, even when it doesn’t make economic sense. Jesus has got this. It is His project. We are His. Be encouraged. Be bold. See these days as the turning of a page, that can, in time, position all of us to realize ministry dreams and visions from heaven itself.

The headlines will fade. Our witness will not.

Jim Lyon

Coronavirus Statement from Ben Shular

As the COVID-19 (novel corona virus) pandemic emerged, our General Director, Jim Lyon, asked me to chair a Special Event Response Task Force (SERT), comprised of key strategic personnel. This task force is responsible, on behalf of Church of God Ministries, for monitoring the rapidly developing impacts, analyzing and filtering the most ministry-relevant and reliable information, developing contingency plans, and making decisions with regard to our operations and sponsored events.

It is as the SERT Chair that I release this statement after prayerful, thoughtful, and up-to-date review of the situation with the team.

The challenges COVID-19 poses to all of us, including our churches, have produced unprecedented impacts that demand urgent and careful response. Ordinary routines have been upended, life in the United States and Canada has changed, and over 2,000 Church of God congregations (like so many others) have been swept into the center of the storm.

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Guidelines & Resources

In an effort to stem the tide of the pandemic, Church of God Ministries urges our church family to follow the recommendations of our public health officials. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has posted guidelines for faith-based organizations. In Canada, Health Canada has posted online guidelines as well.

The following steps outlined by the CDC are a help to all of our churches:

  • Consider streaming services online, live or pre-recorded, as an alternative to public gatherings.
  • Offer online giving opportunities.
  • Use phone conversations and conference calls for member care and team meetings.
  • Consider the needs of the most at-risk, including, but not limited to, senior citizens and persons with health conditions.

Additionally, we encourage you to pay close attention to your local, state, and provincial authorities, as unique protocols may be in play close to the ground where you live and serve. As a Movement, we want to be always seen as the champions of public health and the common good. Our witness depends upon it; our love requires it.

Our trusted friends at Brotherhood Mutual have also compiled a wealth of practical resources for the local church. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has also prepared a list of best practices and additional tools especially for churches responding to COVID-19.

We are leaning into our partnership with Faithlife during this time. They have offered to help by providing resources to take your church online, as well as by waiving the subscription fee for 6 months on their Premium Faithlife Giving subscription.

  • Take Your Church Online in Under 24 Hours: https://faithlife.com/church-online
  • Activate online giving now: To help the church in this time, Faithlife is waiving the subscription fee for six months on their Premium Faithlife Giving subscription so your church can get the lowest rates. You can get signed up and active today, and Faithlife provides a communication kit for activating your congregation. Sign up for Faithlife Giving now, or schedule a 1:1 appointment with a specialist by clicking on this link: https://faithlife.as.me/schedule.php?appointmentType=13533845.

RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHURCH

FINANCIAL RELIEF FOR YOUR CHURCH

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was signed into law on March 27, providing loans to churches, nonprofits, Christian schools that are 501c3s, and small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Is my church eligible?
If your church is a 501c3 and has under 500 employees (at one location), you are eligible.

How can my church use the loan funds?
Use the loan funds to cover expenses including payroll costs, paid sick, medical or family leave, insurance premiumsmortgage interestrent payments, or utilities. 

Do we have to pay the loan back?
The loan is 100% forgivable if you employed the same average number of people during the loan period as you did during the same period in 2019. If your full-time equivalents (FTEs) are less during the loan period than last year, you will only need to pay back a portion of the loan over a 10year period starting in 2021. 

What’s our next step?
Contact your current banker and let them know you’d like to apply for this loan provided by the SBA (Small Business Administration). As this is new and quickmoving information, your bank may not be prepared yet to handle the application. 

Do SBA-backed loans violate the separation of church and state?
If you’re feeling uncertain about receiving government funds for your church, this article makes the case that this should not be an issue for churches.

Apply for the CARES Act loan

Please note: Application cannot be submitted online. You must complete, download, and submit this form to your banker.

Having difficulty applying through your bank?

If your church has been rejected or you’re at the bottom of a long waiting list, try submitting your application through America’s Christian Credit Union. You can begin applying online starting Saturday, April 4 at 9:ooAM (ET). Visit their website >>

FAITHLIFE

Faithlife is waiving the subscription fee for 6 months on their Premium Faithlife Giving subscription:

EVANGELICAL COUNCIL FOR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY (ECFA)

RESOURCES FOR YOU

19 simple ways to love your neighbor right now

The National Christian Foundation has compiled a list of 19 ways you can support your community, foster relationships, and love your neighbor in light of COVID-19.

Parenting during one of the most challenging seasons ever

Thrive Worldwide shares some parenting tips to help you navigate the new rhythms in your family life.

Online Churches

The CDC’s guidelines limiting the number of people gathering together in one space has prompted churches from California to New York and everywhere in between to go online. Streaming worship services live is a great option for most congregations, especially as Faithlife and other resources have provided options to kickstart video streaming and online giving. Still, Church of God Ministries recognizes that some congregations may not yet be ready for “online church.” As restrictions are in place for a minimum of eight weeks, we don’t want you to miss the powerful spiritual impact a Sunday worship experience offers. Therefore, we’re excited to introduce you to our weekly feature online church!

Beginning Sunday, March 22, we’ll feature a different Church of God congregation each week on our website and social media platforms. While we cannot duplicate an in-person experience with other believers, we’re thankful for the technology that allows us to connect you to some of our finest teachers of the Word and worship leaders in our Movement—via the Internet.

March 22
March 22
Fairfax Community Church
Fairfax, VA
Pastor Rod Stafford
Thanks for tuning in to Fairfax Community Church!
You can watch the service again and keep following along with this church at the link below:
March 29
March 29
First Church of God
Columbus, OH
Bishop Timothy Clarke
Thanks for tuning in to First Church of God!
You can watch the service again and keep following along with this church at the link below:
April 5
April 5
McDowell Mountain
Scottsdale, AZ
Pastor Matt Anderson
Thanks for tuning in to McDowell Mountain Community Church!
You can watch the service again and keep following along with this church at the link below:
April 12
April 12
Crossings Community Church
Oklahoma City, OK
Pastor Marty Grubbs
Crossing Community Church Streaming Times:
Times will be confirmed by Thursday prior to the scheduled Sunday.
April 19
April 19
New Beginnings CHOG
Albuquerque, NM
Pastor Richard Mansfield
New Beginnings Church of God Streaming Times:
(all times Eastern)
Times will be confirmed by Thursday prior to the scheduled Sunday.
April 26
April 26
Arlington Church of God
Akron, OH
Rev. Dr. Diana Swoope
Arlington Church of God Streaming Times:
Times will be confirmed by Thursday prior to the scheduled Sunday.
May 3
May 3
Highland Park
Casper, WY
Pastor Mike Fackler
Highland Park Community Church Streaming Times:
Times will be confirmed by Thursday prior to the scheduled Sunday.
May 10
May 10
Alma Church of God
Alma, MI
Pastor Erin Taylor
Alma Church of God Streaming Times:
Times will be confirmed by Thursday prior to the scheduled Sunday.

Regional Conventions & IYC

Our first priority at any event we host is the health and safety of our guests. Due to the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, Church of God Ministries announces the cancellation of the Church of God Regional Convention in Inglewood, California, previously scheduled for April 22–24, at Center of Hope LA. For Church of God Ministries staff, this has been a very difficult, but necessary decision in light of the most recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Church of God Regional Conventions 2020 scheduled for Anderson, Indiana (June 24–26), and Brooklyn, New York (September 16–18), are currently expected to proceed as planned. International Youth Convention (IYC) scheduled for July 3–6 in Orlando is also expected to proceed as planned.

Global Strategy

We also want you to be aware that Global Strategy is already working with missionaries globally on region-specific responses. Some regional gatherings have already been cancelled and noncritical travel has been suspended. As we move into the summer, each location will assess their ability to accept visitors based on local conditions and government regulations.

For information regarding developments in the United States and Canada, contact info@chog.org. For information regarding developments abroad, beyond the United States and Canada, contact globalstrategy@chog.org. Updates will be issued as needed. Thank you for your continued prayers and precautions.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” —Psalm 91:1–2 NIV

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