From Pastor Gunnar's Desk 03/18/20
I’m going to be sending out weekly updates on things going on (or not going on) at First Baptist Elma for the foreseeable future. We are certainly in uncharted waters – however, in this uncertain season we also, by God’s grace, have new opportunities to worship, love each other and our neighbors – in ways that demonstrate our faith in Christ, who is in control. We want to be careful how we live, but also make the most of every opportunity to glorify Him in these days (Ephesians 4:15-16).
That said, our ministry of the Word will continue to take place online. If you had trouble accessing the message last week, start by going to www.fbcelma.org, then click “listen to the latest sermon,” next click the most recent sermon (the outline and discussion questions will appear), next click “listen to this week’s sermon” at the top of the page, and finally download the message. (If you don’t have a media format to play the sermon follow the instructions listed at the left of your screen.)
We are currently working on ways to worship together through a live feed on YouTube or ZOOM. This is a process. We want to make sure it’s done well, and legally.
With that in mind, we have a chance to worship in new and creative ways. Last week my family and I looked up worship songs on YouTube. Each person picked a song and said why they picked it – then we sang together. After that we listened to the message, prayed through Psalm 23 and closed by singing the Doxology. It wasn’t the same as worshiping face to face with all of you – but it was sweet in its own way.
Though this season presents obstacles it also provides opportunities. One thing I would like to add to our online gatherings – to help us stay connected and growing in the Word – is that after the message you can text in questions to 360-470-8406. Before the next sermon we’ll post a recording of your questions and my best attempt to answer them. We also wanted to let you know that it’s possible, and important, to make offerings through mailing them to the church, bringing them to the church during office hours, or giving online at our website. Finally, as far as services go, we are praying and considering ideas about how to gather (at an appropriate distance from one another) for Easter. Stay tuned.
So, how do we follow the Lord’s command to love one another in isolation? I encourage you to call people you usually fellowship with at church or go the extra mile and contact one or two people you don’t know super well – just to see how they’re doing, and touch base. The elders and I will also be calling everyone in the church to catch up and see how we can pray for you. Even though this time is not ideal – we can also grow in community in unexpected ways.
That said, our mission of loving our neighbors in Christ-centered ways can likewise grow and expand. This doesn’t have to be a big deal, but you never know how God will use – stopping by and see if people are ok, taking time to listen, and offering to share things, like toilet paper.
Throughout church history it has always responded to plagues and pandemics differently than people who don’t yet know the love of Christ. Though this season is difficult in many ways, we have an opportunity to shine like a city on a hill, and perhaps reaching many through following in the loving, self-sacrificing steps of our Savior. May God bless you in rich and unexpected ways.
Because of Christ,
Gunnar began serving as pastor at First Baptist Church, Elma in July 2012. He and his wife Corrine – and their three children Trinity, Eli, and Ian moved to Washington with a vision to help build a vibrant community of people who know the truth of God’s love for them in Christ, and express that love as they gather, and go out into the world. A veteran of youth, college, and young adult ministries for almost twenty years – Gunnar enjoys being in God’s Word, obsessing over sports, and spending time outdoors with his family.