Good afternoon Friends, 

Early Methodists and other holiness groups used to greet one another with the question, “How is your soul?” These are challenging times for our hearts and souls as we minister to people who are suffering, anxious, and often in despair. Much has been written about care for the caregivers. As Peter, who experienced great success, but also great shame, failure, trauma, and defeat so clearly stated, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV) Remember to lead with your heart, but make decisions with your head. Warm hearts and cool heads will prevail.

In today’s update, I will just list some links that might be helpful to you. And remember, you can always find the latest COVID-19 Updates regarding the church and ministry on our website by  clicking here  (and feel free to share with your pastor friends from other local churches):

  • Drive-In Church: Washington issued new guidelines late Wednesday about drive-in services. They are available here

  • Re-Launching Regular Services: Ed Stetzer shared with us some excellent guidelines and wisdom during the webinar last Monday night. It is an hour long and worth watching here. Ed Stetzer also made his PowerPoint about re-launching the church to us. You can download it via this link, or if that doesn’t work, you can download it from the Ed Stetzer video link on our NWMN COVID-19 page.

  • Safety Concerns:  I am a farm boy who grew up in a small rural AG church. I understand the frustration of many in our more rural counties who do not face or perceive the same crisis that others are facing in more highly populated areas. However, every farmer is strictly trained about safe practices and safe operations in everything they do. There is a harvest of souls in every one of our counties in Washington and Idaho. And we can’t take for granted that we won’t be impacted by a global pandemic just because we live far away from Seattle, Portland or Spokane. Yakima County this week was reported to have the highest per capita number of cases of COVID-19 on the west coast. More people have died in the USA from COVID-19 in the past few months (more than 72,000 as of last night) than the number of US soldiers who died in the decade of the Viet Nam War era. None of our churches want to make the headlines for violating safe practices or contributing to a public health threat. I live in a small town (North Bend, WA) and am one of the administrators in our local North Bend Facebook group. I can tell you that people are concerned and reporting on their neighbors who appear to be violating safety standards and guidelines. Every AG church is a good neighbor, and is concerned about their community, whether in an urban, suburban or rural area. When this is all over, none of our churches wants to be known as the church that spread a pandemic in their own community because they violated safety or gathering guidelines. Be sure to clear any date of re-opening with your local church board of directors, and consult with local authorities in police, fire and public health to be sure your guidelines and compliance is adequate.

  • Timelines for Re-Launching & Legal Concerns: This is a moving target for both Idaho and Washington. In this developing situation, where the goalposts and numbers change each day, Ed Stetzer reminded us that we probably don’t want to be the first to re-open (although we all wish we could safely re-open right now) for many reasons – listen to his webinar referenced above. With that said, some pastors and individuals are working to discover best practices and safe guidelines, for eventual re-launch. Some are circulating petitions, others are looking at potentially appealing to authorities in a respectful way, and some are quietly working behind the scenes with all branches of government to do so. It seems doubtful that any First Amendment arguments will prevail, because this is a public health crisis, not a restriction of freedom of religion as Richard Hammar and our own attorney, Caleb Stewart, have stated. However, there may be issues of fairness that could be appealed. Prayer, patience and planning will be our friends as we continue to discover creative ways to do ministry as we shepherd our flocks and reach our communities. Click here to see the letter to Governor Jay Inslee from NWMN Pastor Andrew Murch from NW Gospel Church in Vancouver (he has given me permission to share) as an example of a respectful and relevant appeal. Andrew’s letter was posted in a local Vancouver newspaper this week as well. This is FYI, not an endorsement by the NWMN, nor a request for you to share or replicate. As I mentioned to Andrew, his letter is very well done, however an apples to apples comparison of churches to restaurants may not be met with enthusiasm from authorities. Restaurants are already subject to health, safety and food handling regulations and guidelines. They will be even more strictly watched upon re-opening, and are subject to random inspections. Churches already do not have a track record of demonstrating compliance with health and safety or social distancing regulations. 

  • CARES Act: PPP loan money still appears to be available for churches who qualify and have seen a downturn in their finances and ability to make payroll. Click here for FAQ's. In addition, the SBA has announced an extension to May 14, for churches who received PPP money, but now do not appear to need it and want to give it back. More information here. In addition, the SBA has just issued further clarification that there are “no strings attached” for religious organizations from participating in PPP or other CARES Act provisions, details here

  • Measuring Online Attendance: This past Easter probably had the largest worldwide church attendance ever. Here is an update from Warren Bird about measuring online attendance.

  • Giving Trends During COVID-19: Click here for some interesting data on church giving. Also, join Don Ross for a conversation with Dr. Josh Ziefle from Northwest University and John Jordan, CFO of Northwest University. You can register here for the webinar next Monday evening, at 7:00 PM.

  • Churches Closed, But Faith Growing: Interesting data and recent stats from Pew Research Center show that people are growing in their faith during the pandemic. Click here to read more. 

  • Corona Virus Calls For a Revival of Real Pentecostalism: Click here for an insightful article from Christianity Today.

  • Theodicy Questions About a Global Pandemic: Join NWMN Director of Pastoral Care & Credentialing, Beth Backes, for a conversation with me and our online audience as we tackle life’s most persistent question, “Why?” We’ll explore the questions of suffering, and provide biblical and theological context for proposing that it is reasonable to believe in the goodness of God, despite the evil in this world, like the current global pandemic. People are asking these questions today. Are you prepared to answer them in your sermons and counseling? Join us for the conversation during our next NWMN Healthy Pastor Webinar on Thursday, May 14, at 1:30 PM. Click here to join.

Stay healthy and safe, and keep your eyes on Jesus!

I am praying for you and cheering you on.


Don Detrick
Associate Network Leader – Secretary/Treasurer