April 02, 2020

Hello, RCCers…I hope you’ve had a great week.

As I’m guessing you already know, it was recently announced that the social distancing guidelines that were originally put into place through the end of March have been extended through the month of April.  This is such a trying time on so many levels, but we need to look hard and focus on the things we can be thankful for while we journey through these days.  
 
I want to encourage you to join us on Easter Sunday, April 12th.  We will have two online options for that Sunday.  We’ll be doing our live stream at 9:15 a.m. through our website while simultaneously offering it through Facebook, too.  Don’t hesitate to invite your friends to join us as we gather together online to celebrate Jesus and his resurrection.  You can share our website with your friends, www.rochesterchristian.com, and have them hit the “Watch Live” button to join.  You’ll also be able to participate in our service through the RCC Facebook page.  Just search Rochester Christian Church on Facebook and you’ll find us.  Don’t forget to “like” our page so you can stay up-to-date on a daily basis.  Watching with your invited friends on Facebook will allow you to host a watch party so you and your friends can attend our Easter service together.  Get those invites out to your friends!
 
I wanted to encourage you to do a few things during the month of April while we continue to do our part to stop the spread of this awful virus.
 
PRAY
As Shawn highlighted a few weeks ago in his sermon these are the days where the church needs to be praying.  It was only four weeks ago that we had Vision Sunday at RCC and I challenged us to be a family that is devoted to prayer.  We’re certainly getting our opportunity to live out this commitment.  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  (Colossians 4:2, NIV)
 
WORSHIP
We will continue with an exclusive live stream of our full worship service at 9:15 a.m. every Sunday morning for as long as we need to do it.  We will celebrate what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, while we’re inspired to move ahead in another week loving God and glorifying Him.  You can go to our website, www.rochesterchristian.com, and hit the “Watch Live” button.  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…  (Psalm 95:6, NIV)
 
GIVE
If you’ve been meaning to set up online giving please take a moment and do that right now.  You can give through your bank’s bill pay feature, our mobile app, or our website, www.rochesterchristian.com.  For assistance in setting up online giving through our app or website you can reach out to our Business Manager, April Vinyard, at aprilvinyard@rochesterchristian.com or you can call the church office at 498-9264 and we’ll be happy to assist you.  You may also mail your gift to the church, or feel free to call the church office to arrange a time for you to drop off your gift.  Let’s continue to be a generous people because we’re committed to the Lord and his ways.  Jesus said:  “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:21, NIV)
 
CONNECT
There are many different ways that you can stay connected with things going on at RCC during this time.  Be sure to “like” RCC’s Facebook pages:  Rochester Christian Church, RCC Student Ministry, and RCC KidZone.  You can also go to our website, www.rochesterchristian.com, and click “Ways to Stay Connected” to see several opportunities for you to connect with others.  If you have friends you haven’t talked to in a while, reach out to them.  One of our core values is authentic relationships.  We recognize the importance of doing life together while we connect with God and others.  Don’t isolate yourself while we shelter-in-place.  We’re better together!  …you are the body of Christ…  (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)
 
FOCUS
Join our staff as we share a daily blog of thoughts and insights while we go through this time together.  You can access the blog by going to, www.rochesterchristian.com, and hitting the blog button in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.  Spend a little time each day focusing on what really matters.  The Lord said:  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10&11, NIV)
 
GO
Another one of our RCC core values is urgent engagement.  We believe we are compelled to bring God’s love to everyone.  This is the time to engage our friends with God’s love.  This is certainly a time of urgency, too.  Invite your friends to join us online at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings.  Share the link with them.  While these are unprecedented days it also means this is an  unprecedented time for people to be receptive to the gospel.  Jesus said:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  (Mark 16:15, NIV)
 
I can’t begin to tell you how much of a privilege it is for us to serve you during this time.  While our office will remain closed, please don’t hesitate to call 498-9264 if there is anything we can do to serve you.  We’re answering the office phone every day, and we’ll continue to be there for you when you need us.  I look forward to worshiping with you online this Sunday at 9:15 a.m.  May we all grow and continue to become more like Jesus as we pray, worship, give, connect, and go.
 
Thankful for you,
Brad Ferris, Lead Pastor
 

 

MARCH 23, 2020

Hello, RCCers!  Your participation this past week was almost overwhelming!
 
I am blown away by how many of you have joined us for the live stream of our Sunday worship services.  At the time of this writing our stream of Sunday’s message has more than 1,200 views.  Thanks for worshiping with us and for sticking with us–even through some technical difficulties.
 
On Thursday and Friday we collected food for families of children on the free/reduced lunch program at Rochester schools.  So much food was donated!!  As long as we have food there will be food boxes delivered by the school to those families every Monday.  Thanks so much for participating and caring for those in our community.
 
WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED…
So many of you have joined in for things like story time with Miss Wendy, teaching from our Student Pastor, Matt O’Dell, Q&A on the Sunday morning message with Cecil Renshaw, or an encouraging word and song from Ethan Tapscott. We’re so encouraged by your participation.  You can go to our STAY CONNECTED page to see all of the different ways you can stay in touch while we’re doing what we need to do during the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
LIVE STREAM…
I also want to take a moment and update you on what is happening at RCC in the midst of what we’re facing right now.  The live stream of our 9:15 worship service will continue indefinitely.  Not knowing when these current regulations and guidelines will change, we’re committed to providing our live stream as long as it is safe.  You can access the stream at www.rochesterchristian.com or by clicking “Messages” in the RCC app.  I would encourage you to grab your Bible, take notes in the RCC app, have some bread/crackers and juice ready for communion, and sing along as loud as you can with the worship team.  We will let you know as soon as possible once we’re able to join together again in the same room on Sunday mornings to worship.  I look forward to that time, I miss all of you!
 
CHURCH OFFICE…
We’ve also made the decision to close our church office to the public.  We’ll still be available to answer phone calls for any emergencies or to meet any needs that arise.  We’re also making provisions to continue to provide food from the food pantry for those who have that need.  But, our entire facility is closed at this time.
 
I can’t begin to explain how difficult it is to make these decisions.  In my 25 years as a pastor I’ve never known the church to be a place where you couldn’t go to worship.  I’ve never known the church office to be a place where you couldn’t stop by to chat, ask for prayer, make one of the pastors laugh, or simply be encouraged.  The church has almost always been open and never been closed.  And yet here we are.  It doesn’t seem right.  It doesn’t feel right.  It keeps me up at night to be quite honest.  But for everyone’s safety, these are the decisions we need to make.
 
IF YOU NEED ANYTHING…
I want to reassure you that we’re still here for you.  We have a plan in place to make sure the office phone is answered during office hours.  If you have a need of any kind, if we can serve you in any way, if you just need to chat, if you need to ask for prayer, if you want to make one of our pastors laugh, if you want to be encouraged please call 498-9264 from 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. and one of us will answer.
 
In reality, the church isn’t closed…just a building is closed.  The church is YOU!  The church is ME!  The church is US!  I believe ministry is being unleashed in ways and in areas we never imagined possible, and I’m convinced that this time will only make us stronger.  And it’s important to remember that it’s not just us.  Think about the impact that all of the churches are having right now.  Perhaps there is a revival sweeping through the Rochester/Springfield area.  Perhaps there is a revival sweeping through our state, through our nation, through our world.  The Bible says:  Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:6, NIV)  The Body of Christ is being rejuvenated and made alive again, and this is a time for us to rejoice in the Lord!
 
Thankful to be on this journey with you,
Brad Ferris, Lead Pastor
 

 

MARCH 16, 2020

Hello, RCC Family!

This past Sunday was an incredible Sunday as we worshiped together exclusively online.  We believe God wants to do powerful things in all of us, whether we’re together in the same room or one church in many homes.  We believe as a church we need to walk in faith and not fear. The Bible is clear that God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7).  I’m so thankful for the power that is available to us every moment of every day. We also believe that because of our faith God helps us to be wise. Sometimes there are decisions that call for wisdom, which in reality can be a test of our faith.

Sunday afternoon the Elders and I met with a medical professional to discuss the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and how we can act in a wise way.  After understanding what is happening in our community and world we believe the wise decision is to close the RCC facility through March 31st.  This is a difficult decision, but we’re making this decision for two reasons.  First, we love you and we love our community. Limiting our contact with others helps aid those who are most susceptible to this virus.  This decision is about putting others first and loving those around us. Second, this decision helps slow the spread of this virus and will assist our medical professionals and facilities.  This decision is not meant to cause panic or fear, but to allow us to be responsible for what happens in our community and with you as members of RCC.

We recognize that this outbreak and our decision to close our facility may cause some inconveniences and a few questions.  Believe me, I have had a few questions myself. So…let me do my best to answer some questions you might have.

What will we be doing for Sunday morning worship?  We will be doing exclusively online worship at 9:15 a.m. just like this past Sunday.  You can join our online service by going to our website at www.rochesterchristian.com/sermons.  We are becoming a church without walls.  We don’t want you isolated from us, and we don’t want to be isolated from you.  Join us online on Sunday mornings so you can see our faces (I’m not the best looking guy you’ll ever see!).  We will have someone available to interact online during our service so make sure you activate the chat option and drop in to say, “Hi.”  If you don’t have access to our live stream and would like to request an audio CD of the morning’s message please contact Laura Welch in our church office.

What about our other current ministry opportunities (Wednesday evening activities, workout classes, weekday preschool, etc.)?  All of our other current ministry gatherings will not be meeting during this time.  Basically we will be using our facility for online worship and to keep our office open.  I do believe, however, that God is giving us a very unique opportunity to do ministry through RCC.  Our staff is working hard putting together a plan to help meet some of the needs that will be very real for the next few weeks.  Be watching your e-mail, our Facebook page, and the mobile app for some of the different things we’re putting into place and how YOU can get involved.

Could our facility be closed beyond March 31st?  As you’ve probably noticed things have changed rapidly with this virus outbreak.  We will continue to monitor regulations and guidelines and will notify you as soon as possible if things change.

Should our small group continue to meet?  This is a decision for each group to make.  Groups are welcome to meet at an off-site location if they desire to do so.  I would definitely encourage you to stay in touch with one another during this time.  Shawn Smith, our Discipleship Pastor, is working on a plan that will allow groups to keep in touch through various tools.  I would also encourage you to think of ways you can be serving one another in your group, and talk about how you can serve others in our community, too. (OVER)

Could this create financial challenges at RCC?  If we don’t commit to being faithful managers of all that God has given to us, then yes it could.  But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about RCC in my 7 ½ years as your Lead Pastor it’s this: you are extremely generous!  We don’t give because we’re committed to a building we give because we’re committed to God and living the way He wants us to live.  I would encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to set up online giving. This can be done through your bank’s bill pay system, our mobile app, or our website.  Feel free to mail in your gift, or you can stop by our office to give your gift in person. If you need help with online giving please contact the church office and we’ll be happy to assist you.  I know God is not surprised by this, and He will take care of us during this time. He is always faithful!

What else can we do, as a church, during this time?  We need to pray.  A couple of weeks ago I mentioned during Vision Sunday that we wanted to be a family at RCC that is devoted to prayer.  Here we go! Pray for our government leaders, our medical leaders, and our spiritual leaders. Pray for God to be the source of peace that our world and community needs right now.  Pray for God to restore health to those infected with this virus. Pray for families who are making difficult decisions about loved ones with this virus. And let’s pray with thanksgiving because He is a sovereign God who is always in control.  You can also “like” RCC’s Facebook pages to stay connected. Search for Rochester Christian Church, RCC Kidzone, and RCC Student Ministry. Our Kidzone and Student Ministry pages will have resources and special opportunities for your children and teens.  Hit the “like” buttons on all of these pages today!

Is there a way for me to get up-to-date information on what is happening at RCC?  Yes.  First, you can join our e-newsletter list by emailing Laura in our office at office@rochesterchristian.com.  Second, take a moment and download the RCC mobile app by searching Rochester Christian Church in your app store.  We will also be sharing current information on the Facebook pages listed above.

Is there trustworthy information I can get about COVID-19?  I asked our medical professional to provide us with some credible information that we could share with you about this virus.  You can visit the Illinois Department of Public Health for information: www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus.  You can also visit the CDC for their guidelines: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For general questions about COVID-19 and Illinois’ response and guidance you can call 1-800-889-3931 or you can email at DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.

This is a challenging time.  Let me stress that we aren’t going anywhere!!  I encourage you to stay engaged with us and let us know how we can serve you.  Do you have a prayer need? Do you need some food? Need a babysitter? Need an errand done?  Need someone to give you a ride? Know of another need we might be able to meet? Please give us a call in our office at 498-9264 and we’ll do what we can.  There’s no shame in asking for help.  

Peter says:  …be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  (1 Peter 4:7—10, NIV)  We may be a church without walls for a few weeks, but we’re still the church.  Right now, we can live out these words from Peter better than ever before. We’re still here for you.  We still care about you. We’re still serving you. We still love you. None of that has changed! Let’s join together as a loving and authentic Christ-centered family and watch God ignite a revival in us and through us in these next few weeks.

Love and blessings…Brad Ferris, Lead Pastor