Sun, Sep 13, 2020

Scott Wakefield   -  

Hello friends! Important update today. LOTS going on to tell you about, but lest no one read anything I write, (as I tend toward loquacious), I will mercifully parcel it out over numerous weeks.


An Update on Updates

My apologies for being unable to keep up with regular Scott’s Thoughts Written and Video Updates. We’ve had some extra things going on (Covid complicating ministry methods, restructuring from in-person to just online to both online and in-person, new app/website projects, staff search/restructuring, new hybrid-capable Next Steps format, constant extra Covid messages/drama/pressures/feedback, and extra personal/family stuff) and I just haven’t been able to get (half of my responsibilities) done. Like many of you may feel, being a responsible Christian adult and a faithful Pastor entails continuing to fail people and fall further behind in literally every single category of life! But, I’m going to try to get back to a weekly written and video update starting this past Friday!


Few Tweaks to Online Services, On-Demand, Availability of Videos

For the last 5 months we’ve been doing “hosted” online services 5 times a weekend, including Saturday and Sunday nights, with a couple live “hosts” who have been eliciting engagement by posting FCC items and links and responding to comments, but we need to make a tweak toward fewer “hosted” and more “on-demand” services. This is not only a better use of our staff and volunteer resources, but a more natural way for our content to fit with how many of our folks are engaging with the service on-demand throughout the week. Also, we are going to be posting FCC content on YouTube playlists, just like on the “Watch” tab in our app (fccgreene.org/app).

Here’s the gist of what this means for our online services, starting this weekend.

  • No more Saturday or Sunday evening online hosted services.
  • Sundays, 9a, 10a, & 11a, will all have live online hosts.
  • On-Demand services will be available on YouTube and Facebook starting at noon on Sundays, immediately after Sunday morning’s in-person and online live hosted services.
  • On-Demand sermons will be available on the “Watch” tab of the app (fccgreene.org/app) immediately after Sunday morning’s services.
  • There are a few other implications and practical outcomes, but the aforementioned are the highlights.

Btw, sorry to a few of you Saturday and Sunday night regulars. Thanks for being one of the faithfully present few. We hope to see you on Sunday morning or in the comments throughout the week!

Btw, part 2, bigtime thanks to those who are volunteering as “Online Hosts” (or whatever our official title for them is–can’t remember.) We’ve had a few FCCers who have stepped up and it’s been really helpful! (Thanks, y’all; you know who you are.)

Btw, part 3, if you’re wondering if our online strategy is working, it seems to be! While the data need to be measured over the long-term, anecdotally we already see brand new guests weekly who have been watching us online, often for many weeks or even months.

Another related note… (“Btw, part 4?”)… Friendly reminder that our posture has never been that we see online as a viable replacement for meaningful in-person engagement. In fact, from the beginning of our implementation of our online service strategy, we have included language every week to communicate that we do not believe online is a viable replacement for in-person, (“If you’re not close, we’ll help you find a church home”; also see this “Brown Bags & Bibles” episode, “Why We Should Gather”, https://subspla.sh/mmn7b2n), but, since many of our own FCCers have needed to stay home, we have intentionally not made this as distinctly communicated a value as we someday will. I say all that because some have misinterpreted our online posture as a policy that shows we’re getting soft or lazy or as a belief that online is a viable replacement and long-term alternative to actual meaningful in-person engagement. Nope–that’s definitely not our posture. In fact, we want to get better at very intentionally making online a front door to in-person, whether for us or for other churches in other communities. But, as noted, we are intentionally steering a middle course for now, to ensure our own FCCers who need to remain online don’t feel unnecessarily shamed by our longer-term online-as-front-door-to-in-person strategy. Hope that helps explain and clarify. (If not, hunt me down on Sunday or shoot me an email, for clarification, [email protected].)


Elders Letter – Annual FCC Update, 7 Habits Survey, Membership Drive

Some Additional Commentary and Context – Speaking of some having misinterpreted our posture (on just about everything during the Covid Crazy), I wanted to provide just a bit of additional commentary and context for the Elders Update Letter that should be showing up in the mail yesterday and today. Here’s a digital copy, if you haven’t received one: fccgreene.org/eldersletter.

I want to make crystal clear that, in the Elders Letter, we purposely said, twice, that there are indeed some who need, for vocational, family, or immunocompromise reasons, to remain home/online and cannot yet return to in-person engagement. No sweat. Everyone’s got to make their own decisions, as a matter of the liberty of Christian conscience, and we acknowledge and respect that and have done so multiple times in recent months, in print. Frankly, from what I can tell, the overwhelming majority of those folks are some of the most intentional about their return, with an actual plan they are carefully measuring as they go. In the Elders Letter, the point about the unnecessary fear, laziness, and lack of intentionality is directed toward those who may not have vocational, family, or immunocompromise reasons to stay away and yet do because they let social media drivel and the news cycle guide their lives more than God’s Word and His purposes for them. Too many do not have a plan at all for returning to church, (but they sure seem to have a plan for being in places that are more Covid-unsafe and crowded than any one of our services has been. Oops, did I say that out loud?!) So, while that was obviously an “if the shoe fits” point, nevertheless, regardless of anyone’s circumstances, we all must deal with the issues the Elders Letter intended to raise. To do otherwise is to ultimately allow the atrophy of following the world to happen, and any Elders worth their salt, as shepherds of this flock, we are responsible for raising such issues in the lives of their flock when they need to be. One quick thought is warranted here: The deception of autonomy and material control that marks Christians in America means that many too easily misinterpret discipline from spiritual authority as injustice when it is actually loving correction intended to wake us to the state of our souls. We are seeing too many people suffer spiritually to remain neutral on the responsibility God has given us to shepherd souls.

A quick word on our strategy during Covid and the responses of some of our people… Our posture all along has been to stay in a messy middle that not only allowed us to flex as the situation changed but that helped ensure we all must learn to likewise flex. Bigtime thanks to so many faithful FCCers who have helped us execute this messy middle for the last 3 months on Sundays while we were “open” and online! They’ve helped us continue to create an environment that accommodates people from all sides of the “issues” about which people are absolutely freaking out during Covid. And it seems like our “messy middle” approach has apparently done a pretty good job of both satisfying-and-disappointing everyone! And believe me, there has been no end to the feedback, from all sides, on all issues, all along, everyday. So, by being both online and carefully ”open” for the last 3+ months–with a view to taking the ambiguity and unknown dangers of Covid seriously by distancing, masking some, reducing service times, limiting lingering and seating, etc.–it has forced us all to deal with the tension of the messy middle. And for the record, we have never once enforced masking and made it “an issue” if for some reason someone didn’t wear one. There are way too many possible “Oops!” situations in our curse-ridden lives to be dogmatic and insane about it either way, like when someone gets up during the sermon to go to the bathroom and “forgets” to wear it. Instead of assuming that person is suddenly a right-wing nutjob, it might just be that they forgot. That’s the kind of grace we have been extending to one another all along during these last 3 months of being “open”, weird Covid style. (And again, thanks to so many serving who have helped us manage a wonderful grace-filled messy middle. Seriously, our folks have done a great job.) Normal life requires the grace to not overpoliticize everything. (And yes, I get it crazy conservative nutjobs like me.) Our messy middle posture is what meaningful participation in and submission to the body of Christ forces us to deal with–people who may not see things exactly the same way we do every moment of our lives! (Many of you are married, right?!) The church is God’s ordained method of working in the world and it is where we learn to be who God made us to be and how to function with both grace and truth in His world. It’s just plain Bible. There is no case to be made for lone ranger Jesus-and-me-and-my-Bible-at-the-coffee-shop “Christianity”. As Covid has made clear, it is an egregious error to unwittingly functionally depend on godless ideologies from the social and civil structures of a nonbelieving world to faithfully instruct you for fruitful participation in God’s world instead of, oh I dunno, a Bible-centered and Christ-led community of believers to whom Christians are called to be accountable!? Sheesh. Listen, y’all, I’m fuhreakisly theologically and politically conservative in ways that would likely scare most, but puhleeze stop making identity politics and your “friends” Facebook posts your personal filter for reality. This problem cuts all directions, politically. (Much more, ever so much more, muchly much-much more to say about all that… next week… and the week after that… and the sermon series after that…)

But I digress… back to the Elders Letter…

FCC Update, 7 Habits Survey, Membership Drive – Last Fall, we implemented a yearly “Membership Drive” type focus, which is a time for anyone to either establish or renew commitment to FCC as a church body, to fill out our 7 Habits Survey, and for members to vote on any new Elders, which this year is Carl DelSorbo and John Hamilton.

The intent of this annual survey and membership drive is to help us all take stock of our personal spiritual lives and our commitment to Christ. It can all be done online or in-person with a paper ballot, before or on Sun, Sep 27, when we will complete the congregational vote. (If you need help, contact the Church Office at [email protected] or 423-639-0126.)

Btw, we are making some pretty radical changes with our Next Steps class that we’re going to be rolling out in the next couple of weeks, so I hope to tell you more about that starting in next week’s Scott’s Thoughts.