Hello friends, I pray that your heart is encouraged in the Lord this morning. In my men’s Bible study early this morning (via Zoom at zero dark thirty), we looked at John 21:11, a verse about a fishing adventure. This morning our Bible study topic was “addicted to stress.” Perhaps the level of stress among the disciples was high as they followed Peter back to the shore of Galilee when he said, “I’m going fishing.” Numerous unanswered questions troubled their hearts and souls about what the resurrection and Jesus’ intention to leave meant to them personally. It was a time of great uncertainty. What would the future hold? Their expectations and hopes had been cast aside in the stunning turn of events following the last supper. So they returned to something familiar, something they knew, something they had been successful at before. Fishing. Yet after toiling in their boats all night, they caught nothing. Then Jesus came and told them to try casting their nets in a different place. What followed was a miracle of multiplication.
“Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” John 21:11 NKJV
Do you notice the details John includes in this verse? The fish were all large. There was an exact count, 153. Even with the large catch, the net did not break, even though they may not have been in good repair after perhaps years of dis-use. Thus, none of the catch was lost. It was a miracle with many moving parts and recorded details for us to ponder.
Even during Covid-19, in times of great stress, Jesus knows where we are at. He still directs us by the Holy Spirit. He knows where the fish are – and maybe they are outside of our church buildings. He can strengthen our nets and maybe he is doing exactly that, so that we can prepare for the largest harvest of souls the world has ever seen. Perhaps this time as we are forced to look at different methods of evangelism and spiritual formation, we will return to more organic ways of growth, rather than our own business and institutional organization models that have served us well in the past.
So here are a few updates to consider this week:
- Resources: We are updating our Covid-19 Resource page on ourwebsite daily. For the latest developments and resources to help you navigate the daily challenges of pastoring during a pandemic click here.
- Upcoming Video: Sometime in the next week or so watch for a video featuring NWMN Network Leader Don Ross and our attorney, Caleb Stewart, as they discuss important legal and tax issues relating to Covid-19 and re-launching your church. There is a lot of confusing information out there, we have provided the best legal and practical advice on our website above, but this will be a special video to address the questions our ministers in Washington and Idaho are facing. We will send you an update and link through a variety of social media sources, including email when this is ready to air.
- CARES ACT/PPP Loan Forgiveness: If you already applied and received a loan, you will face deadlines to turn that loan into a grant. That process can be as confusing as the original application for the loan in the first place. Here are a couple of resources, including this resource, that will provide you with the latest information. If you miss some of these deadlines, the potential grant becomes a liability as a loan you must pay back.
- Upcoming Webinar: Today, May 14 at 11:00 am Register here.
- Another Upcoming Webinar: Hosted by Church Law & Tax (Richard Hammar), on May 20. Registration is free and open to the first 1,000 people. Click here to register.
- Tired of Zoom? You are not alone. The research is in: Video calls are exhausting, whether you are an introvert or extrovert. Read more here.
- Drive in Church: Click here for the Washington State Guidelines for Drive-In Church Services.
- When to return to Sunday face to face services: There are many rumors floating around, and many of them are encouraging pastors to just meet, regardless of Governor’s orders in Washington or Idaho. We understand the angst and frustration, but as we have stated before, the best advice is to wait until it is safe and legal to do so. The Joshua Freed case did not open the door for churches to re-open their doors. It only gave him permission to have a Bible study with one person in his backyard. That is the legal opinion of our attorney, Caleb Stewart. We have posted the most recent updates about when it will be safe to return to services on our Covid-19 and Your Church webpage listed above, and everyone is still trying to figure out what that will look like. As we have repeated, the legal opinion from Richard Hammar and our own attorney, Caleb Stewart, remains that the current crisis and stay at home orders are not First Amendment legal issues. Be patient, and if you have questions, feel free to ask by simply responding to this email. It will come directly to me. This document lists the consequences of churches across America who opened their doors too soon, with disastrous consequences in some cases. None of us want to be on that list. Here is a good resource on the topic.
- Theodicy and Covid-19: Join Beth Backes and me this afternoon (May 14) at 1:30 pm for a NWMN Healthy Pastor Seminar as we discuss the questions of suffering, and how to reconcile a pandemic with the goodness of God. We have all experienced personal loss during this time, some of us much more than others. Our parishioners are asking life’s most persistent question: “WHY?” How will we respond. Join us for the conversation here: Join us on Zoom
I am praying for you and cheering you on. How can we help you? Keep looking to Jesus, He never fails!
Associate Network Leader – Secretary/Treasurer