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