Dear Church Family,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ! The world needs the church more than ever!
As you’ve undoubtedly seen throughout this past week the situation here in Germany has dramatically changed; almost overnight. The trajectory of the current situation does not appear to be moving in a favourable direction (just in the last 12hrs we have seen Hessen-wide school closures, travel restrictions, quarantines and specific city-wide shutdowns and now gatherings of 200 or more are prohibited). So, as Elders, we prefer to take a pro-active rather than a re-active approach to the media-driven fears and subsequent government restrictions due to the threats associated with the Corona virus.
How shall the Church speak into this crisis? How shall, ICF move forward? Thanks be to God, that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is with us and still has ordained to use His Church to minister and serve our world!!!! “And I tell you the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). God has a plan for His church. The church has survived persecution, plague, epidemics, isolation, two World Wars and perhaps most threatening indifference due to economic wealth and accommodation; the Church will also survive the Corona virus. The local church is and will continue to be God’s means of calling, saving, redeeming and sanctifying each and everyone of His lost sheep. And so we must not step back, but rather take a step forward. Trusting that Jesus our Chief shepherd is guiding us each step of the way (1 Peter 5:4).
In times of crises, the Church must be innovative and adapt to the changing context. At this point we believe it is wisest to follow our Chancellor’s suggestion to limit social interactions to the bare necessity. Furthermore, with the technological advances available to us in this specific day and age, we believe that we can actually “do church” together in an even more intentional and intimate way than we have in the past.
How? We believe the Lord has already been preparing ICF for just a time as this through our Discipleship movement. We already have an existing model for how to “do Church” in an online format. We have over 25 different discipleship groups composed of over 67 participants already meeting on a regular basis. Through online live-streaming of our worship services AND online conference calling capabilities we have the Kingdom potential to continue helping each other take “a step to the right”; a step closer to Jesus!
During this temporary time of uncertainty and anxiety, your Elders envision a time of accelerated growth for each one of you through intentional discipleship. We need Christ-centered community with brothers and sisters now, more than ever. Beginning this Sunday, we will temporarily move over to an online worship service format, where we live-stream and record the service and will administrate and organise online Discipleship Groups throughout the week. Pastor Carsten will provide slides/sermon manuscript/study guides for you to work through with your discipleship group during the week. The Elders and Pastor Carsten commit to serve this initiative with solid Biblical content, administration of groups, practical help in getting people connected through an online mechanism, matching and creating new discipleship groups, providing individual coaching, care and guidance. Pastor Carsten and the Elders personally commit to regularly calling each ICF member (per family) throughout this short-term initiative to check-in and listen to individual concerns and updates.
What does this mean? It means that we will cease all weekly programs for the time being and move toward an online format. The building will be closed until further notice. We feel this to be a responsible and sustainable solution in these times.
ICF will be purchasing an online conference call platform, called Zoom. This will enable our discipleship groups and small groups/house groups to continue to meet throughout the week. More information soon about how to get connected to your community groups through this online platform.
We strongly believe if each and every ICF’er is involved in the online worship service and a subsequent discipleship group then Christ will grow you as you help others grow, so that “everyone is growing and leading others to maturity in Christ”.