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Hope in Uncertain Times

Posted By Patrick Hart, Thursday, April 2, 2020

In a few days we will be heading into Holy Week, a time when we focus on the arrest, trial, suffering and crucifixion of Christ. Imagine for a moment how disheartened Jesus’ disciples must have been during this week. They had been following Jesus and were active participants in His ministry for the previous three years and as the week comes to a close it appears that all hope is lost. Today we see the cross as a sign of hope, the symbol of our salvation through Christ’s redemptive work - through His death on that cross - but that is because we know the end of the story, the second part of that redemptive work was Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday morning. The disciples couldn’t see that far ahead when all they saw was an empty cross and their Rabbi being placed in a grave, the entrance closed up with a stone. To them, all hope was lost, they were confused, they were afraid, and they didn’t understand that Sunday was coming!

We, too, are experiencing some dark days in our world and I suspect many of us are feeling much like the disciples on what we now know as Good Friday. There is much confusion, fear, anxiety, lack of understanding, and an overall sense of unease and, yes, perhaps hopelessness. I have heard from some of our members the hardship and pain of having to lay off staff, slashing budgets, and concern for the future. I have appreciated notes and calls from others thanking the board for our optimistic attitude amidst what at most times seems a never ending sea of negativity and doom from the media and our governing officials. Our circumstances at this time don’t appear any more hopeful than those experienced by the disciples during Holy Week, but we know what they couldn’t quite see…that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!

We can weather these uncertain times by keeping our eyes on the cross and the empty tomb! I took the picture above at the Garden Tomb on a trip to Israel in February 2019. While there is no certainty that this is the exact tomb of Christ, I live in the certainty that He indeed rose from the dead and conquered the grave. My hope in all times is in Christ!

Now, let me shift to some practical tools that we have available that underscore that the Lord continues to provide for us through our current challenges.

Social Connection – not Social Distancing

We have at our disposal great technology that enables us to stay connecting with one another when we are being told by our governing officials to maintain Social Distancing. I prefer the term Physical Distancing because I believe that we, now more than ever, should be maintaining our social relationships…they just look different now.

We have been using the ZOOM app for video conferencing and it is working quite well. This week, my wife set up a ZOOM birthday party for me, so that all of our children and my mother could join in the celebration of my completion of another trip around the sun. Was it the same as being together in person? Not even close, but it did help us maintain some sense of normalcy.

We are looking into ways in which the NACFM can use ZOOM to stay connected with you, our members. Stay tuned for updates.

Caring for Your Facilities Team Members

How are you all doing with caring for your own team members? Are they afraid of losing their jobs during this extended economic downturn? What resources are available to you and your church to care for them?

Firstly, I would encourage you all to be praying daily for and with your team members. Keep connected, even if they are not able to be at work physically. Ask them how they are doing physically, spiritually, and emotionally…and give them the opportunity to express themselves without judgement.

Secondly, I want you to know there are some resources available to help churches through this period of vastly decreased giving. As you probably know, the Federal government has passed an Economic Stimulus Package that seeks to help mitigate many of the financial challenges that we are all facing at this time, and likely for the next several months. What you may not be aware of is that there are specific programs that churches can take advantage of that are normally not available. The link below was provided to me by our friends at The Church Network. Please read through it and share it with your Church Leadership.

https://www.guidestone.org/NewsRoom/NewsReleases/2020/2020_03_27-COVID-Pandemic-Phase-III-Stimulus-Package

Here is another source giving some explanation of the Cares Act specifically related to non-profit organizations:

https://www.venable.com/insights/publications/2020/03/cares-act-provides-financial-relief-for-nonprofit

A few highlights from these sources:

·       Unemployment compensation is being made available for church employees, even though the church hasn’t paid unemployment tax.

·       Churches qualify for the Payroll Protection Program which allows small businesses with less than 500 employees to borrow the funds to keep their employees paid through June 30th. As long as your church maintains the conditions of the loan, the amount borrowed will be forgiven!

I understand that the funds available under the Payroll Protection Program are limited and may not cover all of the businesses that will likely need assistance, so time is of the essence, if your church wants to apply for this program.

We are all in this together, and it is the desire of the NACFM to come along side and support you as best we can in this season.

Praying for you all,

 

Patrick Hart, CCFM

Executive Director

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2020 Vision

Posted By Patrick Hart, Friday, March 20, 2020

This past October I began suffering constant and intense headaches, located behind my right eye, which progressed into what appeared to be an eye infection. Upon visiting my primary care doctor, I was quickly scheduled for an appointment with an ophthalmologist, as it was believed that I had a case of Shingles. Who knew that you could get Shingles in your eye?! Certainly not me. Over the course of these past 5 months, the infection has gone, but the sight in my right eye is inconsistent. Some days my vision is clear, but later in the day, everything is a blur. There is, apparently, a medical reason for this, and I am assured by my medical team that it will continue to improve over time, but for now I make do and am able to enjoy the irony that in the year 2020, I do not have 20/20 vision.  

One thing that has become clear during this time is that I have much greater focus on that which I can see with my left eye. It has given me some clarity, in all senses of the word, that I did not expect. God is indeed good. This clarity is what I believe is allowing me to look at the current COVID-19 epidemic in a different way than what I might have without my vision setback. Our nation, indeed, our world is facing very uncertain times at this very moment. Personally, I have been on self-quarantine for the past 8 days as my bride wasn’t feeling well last week and ultimately was tested for COVID-19. We do not believe she has contracted it, but until the test results are back, neither one of us can return to work. We have both been working from home and our son, daughter-in-law, and 2 of our grandchildren are quarantined with us and somehow we have settled into a new routine.

During this time both my wife and I have been working from home. I have been directing the work of my Facilities Team in what has become an essentially empty building, and my wife has been directing her staff of childcare workers from afar. Unfortunately, this morning she received word that she needed to close her childcare center effective this evening and place all of her employees on standby status. Even despite the uncertainty of these times, we see God is working, and we are doing what we can to comfort and provide for our employees.

Many of you have stories to tell, or will in coming days. Cities and states are beginning to enforce Shelter-in-Place protocols and rumors are everywhere…along with a whole lot of memes. I want you to know that the NACFM wants to support you during this time. Please remember you are not alone, reach out to one another. I can’t tell you how much it will mean when someone reaches out to see how you’re doing, but I can tell you that I have been blessed by these calls myself in recent days. In fact, I have spoken with quite a few of you over the past few weeks as the landscape of our lives and ministries is rapidly changing around us. It is good to hear from one another. I have loved seeing the dialog on the NACFM Forum and on our Facebook group sharing information. I have been blessed recently by vendors and some of our Business Members, in particular, Christine Monson of PathoSans, as I have been looking to find a solution to our disinfecting chemical shortage. Christine, you rock!

Now is not a time to get caught up in worry, anxiety, and fear. Now is the time we need to have 20/20 Vision: Looking to the Future that our Lord has placed before us. The building may be CLOSED, but the church is OPEN. What does the Lord have for you to do during this time? How are you ministering to your team members and others around you? Keep your FOCUS on Him and I believe we shall see amazing things in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

At this point, we are moving forward in expectation that we will still be joining together in Chicago for our 25th Anniversary National Conference June 15-18. Online registration is open and there are still a few more days to receive an early registration discount of $50. Hotel reservations are also open and can be made via the link on our online conference registration page. At the same time, we know that things may look different the closer we get to June and are looking at a variety of options.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29.11

As we all begin to adjust to the new (and hopefully temporary) normal, I am confident the Lord has us just where we are for just a time as this. While we often do our work behind the scenes, much of our work is now front and center as we respond to this national crisis, so please remember to pace yourselves for the long run and don’t be shy about reaching out for encouragement, prayer, or to share insights or stories through the online Forum, Facebook group or personal contact.

Looking to the Future with you,

Patrick Hart, CCFM
Executive Director

 

 

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The Restful Road

Posted By Dwayne McKean, Monday, August 13, 2018
Updated: Sunday, August 12, 2018

I recently took a couple of days to travel North of the Atlanta area to relax a little and take pictures of "whatever."  It was a quick two night trip with just my camera and all that surrounded me.

One of my stops was the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  I came across an area where I stopped to take a picture of the road as it wound it's way into the mountains.  As I framed the shot my thoughts were of the beauty surrounding the road and the peacefulness of it seemingly disappearing into nowhere.  The image above is the picture I took.

Getting the shot was a challenge.  The day I was in the park was especially busy.  The traffic was very steady.  As I set up my camera atop the tripod I wondered how long I would have to stand there waiting for no traffic to pass in both lanes.  I decided to take a few practice shots with traffic to make sure I had my settings where I wanted them.  I was ready.  All I needed now was a break in the traffic.  Almost seventeen minutes later, finally, I got the shot. 

A lot went into just that one shot.  Initially I had to plan the time to get away.  Having the time I had to plan my destination, thinking through what I hoped to capture.  When the time came gathering my resources and setting out on the journey.  During my journey being observant for the image.  Once located the care in preparing for the shot.  And finally being patient enough to wait for the moment.

I later asked myself how I was able to make it happen.  It was in an especially busy season at work.  It was also a time of transition at work.  At home I had a few projects underway but not yet complete.  Other projects were waiting.  My family wanted my time and I wanted to spend time with them.  The weekly tasks of owning a home that are always there were indeed there.  But I did it because I knew I needed it.  I needed it to be the best I could be for my God, my Lord, my family, and for my church.

I have purposed going forward to continue to take needed trips alone, whether they be actual travel or pockets of time.  I will have to plan ahead.  I will have to get things done in advance and be sure people are in place.  I will have to think through where I want to go and how I get there.  I will need to be sure of just what I want to capture while there.  All needed resources will need to be gathered.  I will need to be careful in preparing for the moment.  Yes, taking the needed trips alone (pockets of time) will take effort.  But they are rest and I need them to be my best.

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience."   Hebrews 4:11

I am so busy.  I have so many things I am behind on.  People want more of my time.  But I have to rest!  I have to rest physically, emotionally, and In God to be at my best for all.

Dwayne

 

 

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Footprints

Posted By Dwayne McKean, Monday, July 16, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018

One of my favorite poems is "Footprints In The Sand."  If you are not familiar with it please stop and click the link footprints to read it before continuing.

The first time I read the poem it was on a poster and showed a picture of Jesus carrying a man on a beach.  Far behind were two sets of footprints that changed to one set in the foreground.  As I read the poem and gazed at the poster sized image the message was clear.  There are times in our lives when we all need Jesus to carry us.

I can recall many a time when I struggled personally and asked Jesus to carry me.  I can also recall times when I didn't ask and He carried me anyway.  They were times when I was struggling, weary, overwhelmed, hurting, and...  He has always carried me through my personal struggles.

The last few days I have been experiencing some of what I described above but not derived from anything personal happening in my life, they are work related.  Friday evening Fellowship took a fairly direct hit of lightning just a few feet from our chillers.  Needless to say it took them down.  The damage extended to air handlers, security and fire alarm systems, our network, and all of my HVAC controls.  We have been scrambling ever since.  The damage and lack of parts and time before Sunday forced us to cancel services.  We took a hit.

Today (Monday) as I continued to assess the damage and began the step by step process of recovering the footprints poster came to my mind.  As I thought of the words and image I found no comfort because I equated being carried to my personal life.  I had to stop and check myself.  I could not believe I had allowed myself to think Jesus only carries me when my need is personal.  Jesus can and will carry me anytime I need Him, personal or not.  Oh did I ask right then and there to be carried.  

Right now and for the next few days Jesus is carrying me and the load I carry and I have no doubt He will lead me in leading Fellowship through our crisis with success.

I am thankful that I'm no longer single minded and know that personal or work related I have someone to carry me straight to God's will.  He knows the way!

Dwayne 

Tags:  carry  crisis  footprints 

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Change is Good

Posted By Dwayne McKean, Executive Director, Saturday, June 30, 2018


Unexpected change.  Isn’t that the the worst kind?  You don’t know it’s coming, you’re given little time to prepare, and suddenly you’re in the middle of it.

A few weeks ago I found myself in the middle of one of those unexpected changes.  After almost twelve years of service to Fellowship and working with me my AA resigned.  NO!  As if that change was not enough with her resignation came word I would not be allowed to replace her.  NO!  PLEASE NO!

Needless to say my emotions were everywhere.  I was losing a really good friend, an outstanding AA, and trying to reconcile how I would absorb her contributions.  Honestly, it was overwhelming.  I was very accepting of one why but could not make sense of the other why.  I still can’t.  However, my joy moving forward is up to me, not a change thrust upon me.

Change is often intimidating because we become very comfortable in the same.  The same can be done very successfully.  I humbly feel I (we) were very successful.  As successful as the same can be it can also be limiting when you become complacent in it.  Had I become complacent and too relaxed in my success?  YES!  Could I (we) be even more successful by embracing the challenge of positive change?  YES!  OH YES!  

I lost my AA and I lost my AA.  Things are not the same.  Some of my processes are different.  I have added tasks.  My demands are greater.  I am in the middle of change but I will not let it steel my joy by being intimidated by it.  Instead I will become intimidating in how I embrace and implement it.      

R Buckminster Fuller said “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

My existing model was a success but I am working to make it obsolete.  Change is good!

Dwayne

Tags:  change  coworkers  employees  loss  work 

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