|Letter from Brad, March 12, 2020|
My Dear NorthRidge Family…
I love the church. I've devoted my entire adult life to serving God through the church. Anyone who knows me (and, after 29 years as the pastor here, many of you do), I'm relentless about faithfully gathering every weekend to worship, grow, and "Wake the World Up to Jesus" together. Even when we have two feet of snow…, I'm fighting to keep our doors open. I believe in our mission. I believe that there is nothing more important than helping people discover and develop their relationship with Jesus. Nothing.
The only time I relent on this is when I genuinely believe that it's required to protect our people. After all, a significant part of God's calling on my life, as a pastor, is to be a shepherd. One of the vital responsibilities of a shepherd is to protect the sheep at all costs. To fail in this, I firmly believe, is to fail in fulfilling God's calling on my life.
It's in this spirit, as a shepherd, that I'm writing this email. After pursuing God's wisdom, investing in understanding the issues presently facing us with the COVID-19 pandemic, counseling with our ministry leaders, listening to the advice of the best health experts and our State and National leaders' recommendations for mitigating the impact of this very new virus, I have been led to make one of the hardest decisions of my ministry. I've decided to suspend all services and events at our physical locations for the time being. I care too deeply about each and every one of you to jeopardize you in any way. As well, the Great Command tells us to Love God and love our neighbors. So, I believe, to fulfill this command in this circumstance, we have to love our neighbors enough to do everything in our power to diminish the spread of this virus and protect them.
I know that some of you will applaud this decision while others of you will disagree vehemently with it. After all, there's so much we don't know yet. It's possible it may not turn out to be all that devastating. (I'm praying for this outcome.) However, as the shepherd of the NorthRidge Church family, I am called to protect the sheep. And, right now, the best advice from those who are far more knowledgeable about medical science than I am, is that public gatherings of people are potentially dangerous and could increase the spread and devastation of this pandemic. This is especially true at NorthRidge because of our size and draw. People come to our campuses, not just from one community, or only this region, but from all over the world. While we're grateful for this, it also creates a more significant potential of including those who unknowingly carry the virus.
It's true that some people are being driven by unhealthy fear…. this is not the case for us. We wholeheartedly embrace the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." However, we also wholeheartedly embrace God's command for us to be Shepherds of His people…to love and protect them.
So…let me share what this does and doesn't mean. It doesn't mean less ministry. As a team, we are going to be working very hard to seek to increase our spiritual investment in you. While we won't be gathering together in the same space, we are going to work hard at creating a great gathering together online. We will be seeking to develop online services that are creative, unique, relevant, helpful, spiritually uplifting, and God-honoring for you. We want to encourage you to join us yourself… and with your families. For parents, we are also seeking to create ways to engage your kids too. We're praying that God uses these online services and devotionals to impact you and that you'll share them with others who also need the Hope of Jesus in this time of uncertainty. Pray for us.
It doesn't mean forever. The key driver of this decision is all the uncertainties and unknowns at this present time. As we learn more, then we will be able to make more informed decisions. In fact, our prayer is that by not gathering now, it will help us to mitigate the impact of this virus and allow us to begin gathering together again even sooner.
However, it does mean that we will NOT be gathering together at any of our campuses on the weekends or during the week for any ministry groups. These kinds of gatherings only help to increase the risk of spreading this virus. The experts have established varying recommendations of group size… from 50 to 250. But, again… this uncertainty leads us to err on the side of caution… at least until we know more. Just know… we'll be working hard to create ways to continue investing in you spiritually during this time. As we seek to protect your physical health, we are even more passionately committed to protecting your spiritual health. In fact, this could be an amazing time of growth in our lives and church family… if we choose to trust God and remain committed. So let's do it together!
Expecting God's best,
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Has there been a confirmed case of the disease at NorthRidge?
When will weekend services be streamed?
Will you offer remote services for RidgeKids? Students?
Are other churches doing this?
How long will you not have services at a physical location?
How will we be updated for following weekends?
Has my event at NorthRidge been canceled? How do I find out?
Will I be reimbursed for my registration fee? (if applicable)
Will my event/workshop be rescheduled?
Can my group still meet at NorthRidge during this time?
Will NorthRidge employees report to work?
How is NorthRidge making decisions?
Will NorthRidge buildings remain open during the closure?
Are SOPA classes cancelled?
Are you concerned about giving with no physical services?
What if I’m feeling fear and anxiety about COVID-19?
How is NorthRidge cleaned and disinfected?
Where can I find more information about COVID-19?
Still, have questions or need to contact us?
What can I do for my family? (see below)
During a Pandemic: Limit the Spread of Germs and Prevent Infection