May 23, 2020
Why Hope Community Church (All Locations) Will Most Likely Be Slower to Reopen Than Other Churches
In one of the best articles I have read recently, Daniel Taylor (a Christian and former Bethel College Professor) wrote about the need for real wisdom in decision making during these very difficult times. In his Star Tribune opinion piece from May 11, 2020 (Wisdom more than expertise is needed: In times of crisis leaders must ponder broad concerns), he argues for balancing a variety of expertise, and to seek overall wisdom in making the difficult decisions our local, state and national leaders need to make in this critical time. Many of his thoughts have stuck with me, especially that we need to see the whole field, not listen to any one “expert” alone, and to avoid snap judgments about how others are dealing with the pandemic. He calls us to, above all, seek wisdom.
Where We’ve Been
In Proverbs, we read that “…the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6, ESV), and that wisdom should be sought after as we live out our lives as Christ-followers. We have been asking the LORD for wisdom in how to proceed in these difficult times. Even as the pandemic came to Minnesota in early March, we sought to put as much time and effort into serving our church and community as we can, and desire to continue doing so – all this while trying to keep our community safe and to be a good neighbor.
In this season, we are continuing to walk a delicate tightrope as we seek both wisdom and understanding from the Lord on how to proceed with the ministry of Hope. We must weigh the guidance provided by those who have far greater resources and expertise than us, honor the authority entrusted to those in local, state, and national leadership, and consider the unique needs and realities of our congregation.
As Christ followers, we desire to be known as people of wisdom, courage and love. These are not mutually exclusive. Admittedly, it has not been an easy balance, and have led to hours and hours of dialogue on almost every level of leadership at Hope.
As a congregation we hold many varying opinions, perspectives, and insights regarding the speed and nature of what it looks like for us to resume “life as normal.” We respect those varying viewpoints and know that each of you have arrived there based on your own experiences, realities, and knowledge. And, as Senior Pastor of this church, I want to say how I have appreciated the manner in which you have conveyed these perspectives to the leadership at Hope. We have felt honored and loved through your gentle push backs to our plans for how to proceed with re-opening our locations. Hope has always been a place of grace regarding how decisions are made, and we have felt it during this time. We are asking for more of that grace as we move forward.
Where We’re Going
As we consider our approach at Hope Community Church going forward, it’s essential that we look to the Gospel to shape our response as a church. The Gospel message is one of sacrificial love, of laying aside preference, of being a servant. In humility, and with this spirit, we ask that whichever ever position you take that you would be patient as we continue to seek wisdom on the right direction to make. There are still many factors to consider. (even pragmatic ones like, how many services would we hold, how full would those services be, if we did multiple services how would we sanitize everything, keeping safe, encouraging children’s programming, etc.).
As a result of all the data we have at this time, we have decided that we will continue to adhere to the guidance given to us by those in leadership of our particular state and city (Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health), as well as our denominational leaders with Converge North Central and the North Central District of the EFCA. At this time, we will be perhaps even more cautious than other churches about when we will once again open our physical doors to our community.
Please hear that I am not saying that what we do at Hope moving forward is the only right way to approach this. In fact, many of my pastor friends in the Twin Cities and different cities/demographics are doing different things. I appreciate and respect them all. However, with all of that said, we are going to move on the slow side of gathering together in groups larger than 10, and for Hope events, that these gatherings would take place following social distanced recommendations (6 feet apart and outdoors), per the Governor’s original recommendations. We encourage people to gather together in these sized groups to enjoy a bonfire, take a walk together, or perhaps enjoy each other’s company in the backyard.
These decisions are not based in fear, but in love for our neighbors as we look to and trust in the God who knows what He’s doing — even when we can’t see the big picture.
Some additional rationale for our timeline is that we serve communities that have many members who are immune compromised, elderly, and would be overlooked if we move too quickly back to congregating again as a church. Also, our two newest locations do not own their property, and are therefore unable to meet even if they wanted to for the near future. Lastly, I feel like our witness to the world would be compromised by moving too quickly to meet together.
Although our staff team leans in this direction, I know there are some on our teams (Elders, Governance Team, and Staff) who would push for a quicker re-opening. Though they may not totally agree and would have a different preference, we are all in consensus with moving forward in this direction. With that said, I want to say that I take full responsibility for this decision, and if you feel like you need to communicate with me regarding this, please email me at email@example.com, or simply reply to this message as I am the only one who receives replies. I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.
The Building is Closed But the Church is Still Open
Our intention in this is love, to be a good witness to the world, and to make sure we are taking care of “the least of these” in this action. With that said, we know many in our church and community are suffering through loneliness and feelings of isolation as well. We will continue to do ministry through as many creative and meaningful ways as possible. Hope will re-open the building and other ministries as soon as we deem it to be safe, encouraging, worthwhile, and unifying to do so. Things change rapidly, so we will most likely need to revisit this in the near future, and we will work at keeping regular updates as things change.
Even though we are apart, we are still the Church. The Church IS NOT a building. It is a home for our gatherings. It is like our families. Our family home does not define us – but, it is a great place for us to gather. Our unity in Christ defines us as a church, and may we be known for that!
I pray that we would be a people defined by our love—for each other, for our neighbor, and for our world.
We love you all. We miss you all. We are praying for you all, especially those who have been deeply impacted in many ways these last 2 months.
We appreciate your patience with us. We hate this as much as you do, and are praying for the eradication of this virus for God’s glory. Join me in that prayer, for the Twin Cities and for us in leadership.
In His Grace alone,
March 25, 2020
A lot is changing in this season and we know there is a lot to keep track of. In the midst of that, we are doing our best to help you stay connected towhead is going on at Hope Downtown.
We have changed the way we do some things, and we added a couple new things to our weekly rhythms. The best way you can stay up-to-date on what is happening at Hope is by creating an account on MyHopeCC. There you will find not only all of these events, but you will also stay connected to the people who make up our church.
If you want to get connected to Hope, visit hopecc.com/myhopecc to create an account today.
March 13, 2020
This afternoon, a state of emergency was declared for Minnesota and the MDH has recommended the cancelation all large events to help slow the pace of COVID-19 within our community. The leadership of Hope deeply desires to care well for those around us and to do all that we can, even exceeding recommendations, to help with these efforts. In light of this, we will be cancelling all Hope events, including small groups, until we receive further instruction from the MDH. As this situation continues to change rapidly, we will be monitoring MDH recommendations and adjust accordingly.
This Sunday, we will provide a Facebook Live gathering with Steve and Cor from Hope’s Facebook page. Please join us online at 10 AM to worship together. Brian will also be sharing a special encouragement with you all on Monday. Watch our Facebook page for more information.
We encourage you to continue group messaging prayer requests and life updates to your small group members and finding creative ways to engage with each other (Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.) during this season of separation. Naty will be sending a message to small group leaders soon with more suggestions, so watch your inbox!
We’ll have more information for you all in the coming days about other ways to connect with each other and bless those both inside and outside of Hope. This is a time in our community when many will struggle. How can you encourage them, support them, and share the Gospel in tangible ways with those around you? We’d love to hear about how God is using you to be a light to those around you!
I’m praying for each of you to draw near to the Lord and find peace in Him in the days ahead.
Director of Operations
March 12, 2020
At Hope, we want to care for our congregation in all respects, including the physical well-being of our community. To that end, we are asking you, the people of Hope Community Church, to take precautions to keep yourself and others safe, especially in light of recent developments with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Please be mindful of the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC, including:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
We urge you to consider refraining from attending church events (including small group), classes and services until the 14-day time-frame has been observed if you’ve traveled to any high-alert area (currently China, South Korea, Iran, Italy). Please also consider refraining from attendance if you’ve traveled to US locations with community spread of COVID-19.
While you are out, you can access the sermons each week at https://hopecc.com/messages/.
We will hold services this Sunday. We are taking additional precautions in our gatherings to help create a safer environment. We have increased the frequency for cleaning common touch points throughout our buildings. For the foreseeable future, we also will no longer: Have a “meet your neighbor” time in our services Provide a physical handout with sermon notes Provide coffee and treats Serve communion
While Hope’s leadership is making corporate decisions based on information from the MDH, we encourage you to consider what is best for your individual response. We will be closely monitoring recommendations regarding gatherings and will share if and when changes may occur.
The uncertainty of this outbreak is creating anxiety in our workplaces, schools, and day-to-day activities. Yet we remain confident of God’s steadfast presence and careful attention to all that is happening. Please join us in praying for those who are affected by this illness, as well as their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus. In Psalm 46, we are reminded that it is God who is our refuge and strength, and our ever-present help in trouble. Let us not fear, but with confidence use this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus through our prayers and our care for others.
Director of Operations
Ways to Stay Connected
For more information or links to join these events, please join MyHopeCC and/or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.
Need to talk?
Pastors and staff are available to connect through virtual office hours. You are not alone. Are you talking to someone? To ensure ongoing spiritual, mental, and emotional health (e.g. anxiety, depression, grief) or talk about anything in your life, sign up for a 30 minute meet-up!