The first time I tried growing tomatoes, I bought a plant that was started by the West Monroe High School Ag program. I was blown away by how quickly the plant grew and how many tomatoes it produced that year. I enjoyed the experience so much that I tried to start my own tomato garden the following year. The plant grew quickly but never produced any fruit. Eventually, despite all my pleading the plant died without giving me a single tomato. What I learned from the experience was that I had not given my tomato plant the proper nutrients in order to succeed. The plant I bought from the WMHS Ag program had great soil. Perfect for tomato plants. My garden was a random mix of dirt.
The past year has been incredibly eye opening for us as a church because it exposed deficiencies in our soil. Areas we, as elders, believed we were strong in turned out to be malnourished. Lord willing, as things return to a more normal rhythm of life, we are able to come up for air and gauge where we are as The Crossing Church. One thing we found over the past year is that many people a part of TCC feel disconnected from community. Despite the ways we attempted to stay engaged over the past year, each of us to some degree has felt distant. We frequently experienced a lack of mindfulness for each other as meaningful community became harder and harder to hold on to. 2020 seems to have depleted our soil of the nutrients we need to thrive in relationship with God and with others.
The Lord has certainly been gracious to us as a church by continuing to provide. People have come to know the Lord and desire to be baptized. New families and individuals have made their way to TCC. We have three missionaries going to unreached people groups. We have foster families loving and serving the most vulnerable and unloved in our community. We haven’t had a COVID outbreak at a worship gathering. We have seen the depth of our dependence on God. Our Lord was not hindered by 2020 at all. These and many more things are evidences of God’s grace and his goodness.
The hardness of the past year as well as the joys have stirred our hearts for our entire body to be together. Therefore, as elders, we desire that for the next several months we not gathering each week as individual Missional Community groups but meet as One Church. We would be gathering together on Wednesday evenings from 6-8 at The Palace to share a meal, worship and fellowship together. It’s our prayer that this will be a refreshing and restoring time to draw close to Jesus together. More details to come on when we will begin and what exactly it will look like, but for now, please begin to pray and discuss thoughts and concerns with your MC's and our elders.
We do understand that, for some, Wednesday nights are not going to work for various reasons. We plan to work with those individuals or families to discuss what community could look like during this time. Still, it is our prayer that a regular rhythm of Wednesday night gatherings will help TCC grow in their affections for Jesus and for each other. If this is you or if you have any encouragement or concerns, please reach out to an elder or you MC leader to let us know.
Hi Crossing Church!
One year ago (almost) we entered a phase of life we never imagined - a global pandemic. Reflections, lessons learned, heartache, grief, joys, memories - are all jumbled up inside of us and we probably haven’t had the time or taken the time to reflect and look back.
We are grateful and celebrate many evidences of God’s grace over the last year. We’ve also seen and experienced much loss and heartbreak over the last 12 months. There should be time as individuals, families, and as a church to celebrate God’s sustaining sufficient grace and kindness through this hard season as well as time to grieve and express sorrow at what has been lost. While being surrounded with the body of Christ to help us see the hope of Christ as we lament.
Our governor has moved us to phase 3 as a state. Mask mandates remain in place. Locally the number of new cases per day in our region (NE Louisiana) have fallen from 244 new cases per day in December (average) to 179 new cases per day in January to 46 new cases per day in February. With better treatments and therapies, increasing vaccinations, and falling new cases - we are trending in the right direction. Yet, we are still not clear of seeing another surge while we wait for more of the population to receive vaccinations. We feel like we must remain diligent and careful to do our part to limit the spread and protect those most vulnerable.
Taking all of this into consideration we feel like moving forward as TCC should look like:
- Continued use of masks on Sunday morning as we’ve been doing. As long as the state carries a mask mandate, we will respect and honor those requests and do our part while we gather indoors - the least safe environment.
- Continued use of socially distanced seating, hand washing, and communion elements.
- Continued online giving only - we will not receive cash or checks on Sundays for the foreseeable future.
- We have asked those in leadership for children’s classes to evaluate and reorganize and restart our Sunday morning children’s classes. With similar safety precautions taken by schools to remain open - what kind of learning environment can we create on Sunday mornings? Taking into account who we have who could attend and teach - what is the best and most helpful version of classes we can offer to love, care for, and invest in our kids while the parents are worshipping Jesus and being equipped? As always has been the case at TCC, kids attending classes are not mandatory. If you prefer your children to remain with you - that’s your choice as their primary disciple makers. But it’s available for those who want to utilize what we offer. We do ask that if your children participate, please make yourselves available as dads and moms to help serve by teaching and loving on our kids during that time.
- We’ve relaunched our DNA’s and we ask each MC to have discussions about what life together can and should look like moving forward.
- Some of you may be wondering about vaccine concerns. While we don’t feel it’s necessary to address conspiracy theories or bad Biblical interpretations related to the mark of the beast, there are legitimate concerns about taking the vaccine that each individual and family should consider and pray through. Here are some good concise reads that address those concerns - The FAQ's: Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments? and Is the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Unethical?
- We are also discussing some other options and opportunities we might want to provide for us to reengage as one church with many members and several MC’s. This year of covid has caused relational distance that is not healthy long term and we want to create space and opportunity for us to reconnect and know and love each other deeply and well. Please be praying for us to be led by the Spirit in this. Please be asking the Spirit - how you yourself can help be a part of fostering that atmosphere of love and community that makes the church distinct from any other community on earth. John 13:34-35 - I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We are moving forward with our plan to gather at the Palace this Sunday, July 19th. This will be a week by week plan based on the monitoring of cases/COVID hospitalizations/ICU capacity/vent use. While cases continue to grow, in our region this has not lead to a steady increase or spike in those numbers mentioned above. Those numbers since May have risen and fallen but have been mostly flat since early May. If that changes, our plans will change.
The only change from our original post below is that in light of the statewide mandate of mask use, we will require face masks throughout the gathering. For teens and older, but if younger children are willing, they can also wear masks. We’ll sing, but wearing masks. Wearing masks, keeping your distance, washing hands seem to be enough for us to safely shop and work our jobs and should be enough for us to worship Jesus together on Sundays. We also will not have the colored wristband system at this time - we are asking to limit personal touching/hugging/handshaking at this time. As we continue to emphasize - each individual and family should move forward in faith and love and rest in Jesus and the decision they need to make for their family and not feel pressure or shame from our church family.
We know that there is not a plan to satisfy everyone. Based on what you’ve shared with us, we will be right around 50 people gathering which is just under the 50% capacity of The Palace. Please verify with your MC leader that you do plan to attend this Sunday so we can arrange chairs beforehand. We’re not 100% sure yet how the arrangement will look, but some of us will be there Saturday evening to figure it out and pass along that information. Inviting guests is always encouraged, but please let your MC leader know.
We will be live streaming on You Tube the worship gathering for those who will not be there to participate. We will also be recording and posting later in case the live streaming fails. Please do not come if you have symptoms relevant to COVID-19 or have been in close proximity to someone who has been symptomatic. Please self-quarantine from our worship gathering if you’ve been symptomatic or have been around someone with symptoms.
We would like to gather again as one church on Sundays at the Palace beginning July 19th.
With cases continuing to increase in Ouachita Parish, with Louisiana still in phase 2, why would we gather again at the Palace?
Yes, cases continue to rise in Ouachita parish/Region 8, but hospitalizations and vent/ICU use have not also begun to rise but are staying level since early May. If this changes drastically, then our decision could change over the next few weeks. All of our plans right now are written in pencil.
What we have been providing as MC’s meeting in yards/homes has been super enjoyable. Shared leadership, shared teaching, intimate settings, being outside in beautiful weather has all been wonderful. But we have not been able to provide any kind of worship experience for those who can’t or don’t attend those gatherings.
We also recognize that some who have been gathering as MC’s and felt comfortable because we are outside and spread out, may not be comfortable at the Palace.
But meeting at the Palace as one church creates a more unified worship experience we all share together and we can live stream that experience to those who can’t or don’t gather at the Palace.
We may end up having the same number of total people gathering. But at least by using the Palace, we can provide a unified worship gathering that all of our people can use to encounter God. Whether they gather in person or remotely.
Please remember - everyone has to make their own decision about their level of comfort to gather during this season of life. Proceed by faith, be fully convinced in your own mind, and let’s show love and grace and compassion to those who make decisions different than your decision. We are the church of Jesus Christ. We do not receive condemnation from our King and neither do we condemn each other.
We would graciously encourage the people of the Crossing to examine their hearts on this matter and ask - what is a loving and faith-filled way to live during a pandemic. Hiding in fear, apathy, or laziness is not faith-filled. Condemning or shaming others is not loving. Let’s move forward in love and full of faith together as one church striving to make Jesus known during these strange days.
Here are the precautions we will be taking to gather at the Palace, be as safe as possible, and to encourage as many people as possible to come.
- Please let your MC leader know the week before each Sunday if you will be attending. This will allow us to pre-set up chairs in family clumps for families who attend. Please feel free to invite guests, just let us know who plans to come and how many.
- Please do not attend if you have fever, symptoms related to COVID-19, or have been knowingly exposed to someone with COVID.
- We would like everyone to enter through the rear entrance and exit through the front entrance to cut down on traffic congestion
- We would like everyone who is a teen and older to wear a mask when entering, leaving, or mingling. Once in your chairs to sing and listen the mask can be removed. We are planning to spread families and individuals out throughout the room in excess of 6 feet apart. If wearing a mask if legitimately a health hazard for you, then please refrain if necessary.
- We will use the pre-packaged communion elements (cup of juice and wafer on top). Yes, the wafer is possibly made of styrofoam, but for now we want to eliminate as many elements of contamination as possible. They will be distributed in the chairs or clumps of chairs before the gathering by someone who has washed hands and is wearing a glove.
- We will not have nursery or children’s classes. Parents, please deploy all possible means of survival to occupy your children so you are free to worship. Devices, coloring books, snacks, bribes, threats, playpens, the truth about Santa - all options are on the table and because we are family, we will roll with the flow of whatever cute kid noises they make.
- We will have colored wrist bands to pick up on this first Sunday for each family to wear. A red wristband will indicate to others that you would prefer no contact with others. Yellow will mean you are ok with talking to others but not touching. Green will mean you are good with hand shakes, hugs, high fives and holy kisses. Keep the wrist bands and wear each week. If you color changes, you forget it, etc..pick up a new wrist band when you arrive.
- Parents, please help your children be respectful of the boundaries of other families or children. For example, for the Hawthornes we’ll use a stroller for the youngest two and have an adult or teenager assigned to the boys to hold hands and not run around and play with other kids for the families who are not ok with that. Or, we may leave half of the crew home. We’ve still got to figure that out as a family. Some families have mentioned bringing a play pen for toddlers or some other gate system so that both parents can attend and kids can been contained if necessary. We are open to all creative solutions.
- As worship leaders and especially preachers, we are striving to keep the service as close as possible to one hour. To limit the need for the bathroom and because you are at war with your kids.
- Cleaning procedures are being developed in cooperation with those gathering before and after we gather and more details will be shared as we approach the 19th.
- We will not be gathering the offering in a basket to be counted. Please continue to give online or by mailing your check to Nancy Baer.
- We will not have coffee or hot chocolate or bottles of water. Please feel free to bring those on your own.
James K.A. Smith in his book “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit” says this about corporate worship…
Christian worship is nothing less than an invitation to participate in the life of the Triune God….The whole point of liturgical lines and rituals is to create a powerful environment of God-centeredness….Worship is about and for God. To say that God is both the subject and object is to emphasize that the Triune God is both the audience and the agent of worship. Worship is to and for God and God is active in worship in the Word and the elements of worship.
Worship is the arena in which God recalibrate our hearts, reforms our desires, and rehabituates our loves. Worship isn’t just something we do, it is where God does something to us. Worship is the heart of discipleship because it is the gymnasium in which God retrains our hearts.
God’s people have always gathered on the Lord’s day to worship together. Yes, what we’ve been doing has been something the Lord can use and He has been faithful to encourage us and bless what we’ve been doing. But we would like to take a step, with wisdom and precautions, back to what we love to do. Gather as one body and worship God together.
Please know we feel the weight of your concerns. Those who are anxious to gather sooner than later, those who are now anxious because of what we are asking, those who are anxious period because the global pandemic, those who are anxious because they are concerned about the well being of our church and/or individuals who have been isolated, and those who are anxious because more people are not anxious.
We want to love and shepherd you wherever you are. Please feel free to share concerns or thoughts with one of your elders or MC leaders. Let’s seek the Lord together to lead and empower us continually as a church.
Why we are waiting on in-person gatherings
Hi TCC Family,
As the state moves to Phase one opening plans this weekend, there is allowance for churches to begin to gather again in person to worship. Provided certain parameters are met - only 25% occupancy of the building and other social distancing precautions like masks, 6 ft of distance between people not of the same household, hand washing, etc.. We are registered as a church with Open Safely, the Louisiana organization designed to guide businesses and churches in precautions to take to reopen. We are hoping to find out safe steps we can take to regather as well as, what is 25% occupancy of our building? It seems to be based on square footage and the guides differ according to the type of business.
Partly because we are waiting to hear back from our state for more direction and also because locally, cases have been increasing as well as hospital/ICU beds/vent usage increases over the last 13 days, we feel like we should not gather as early as this Sunday. As our area has practiced more freedom, we would love to see the consequences of that, positive or negative, play out over the rest of May and into June. Does the loosening of restrictions cause an uptick in cases, hospitalizations, and vent use? Or is everyone truly being cautious with masks and hand washing as they enjoy more freedom? Or is COVID going to prove to be somewhat seasonal and we can expect a lessening of it’s impact through the summer? Basically, we are waiting to see what happens through May and into June.
We value greatly the privilege and commands for Christians to gather and worship Jesus. And we are hopeful we will be able to do that at some point this summer. But we also, as the church, have a built in flexibility in how we share life and gather together. We can still be the church and do the work of the church without in-person Sunday gatherings. It’s not what we like or prefer and it could even be detrimental long term if we allow our frustrations or distance change our perspective on who the church is and what the church is called to do.
We are also exploring what precautions we need to take when we gather again regarding children. About 35% of day cares in Louisiana did not close during this shut down. What steps are they taking to protects kids? Can we implement the same steps? Are we willing to take those necessary steps? Will parents send their kids to classes and nursery provided we take those steps? This is part of the reason we are sending out a survey - to hear from you. Please be honest and let us know where you in this. Survey can be access here.
In all of this, we are striving to move forward led by the Spirit of God more than anything else. Walking by faith and not by sight or fear. To some degree, COVID 19 is going to be with us for a while. Vaccines look promising, but are not guaranteed and it could be a while for them to be available. Certainly, it’s not possible to stay in our homes for the next 12 months hoping in a vaccine that may or may not work. To some degree we can take reasonable precautions (masks, washing hands, keeping our distance) and live a somewhat normal life interacting with others. Whatever convictions you have as a family or individual, please make sure those convictions are convictions of faith and not fear. Live with faith and not striving to control our lives and ensure our safety and well-being simply because you are doing everything right. Ultimately, our lives are in the hands of the Lord more than our ability to follow rule and take precaution. We are not reckless with that knowledge, but full of faith, wisdom and a desire to love God and love our neighbor as we walk this out.
We do feel like MC’s are clear to gather provided that social distance is practiced, hands washed, and when necessary masks worn. Also, much grace should be given to families or individuals who don’t feel comfortable gathering with the rest of the MC in a house. Allowances like Zooming them in should be made to make them still feel a part of the MC. It’s also important for each individual and family to check their heart and motivation about not gathering. Again, don’t use social distance as an excuse to stay distant from community for reasons other than health concerns. Don’t use social distancing to remain cozy in your fears when there are reasonable steps that could be taken to stay safe and gather. The weather is still nice enough to gather in yards and keep a safe distance, so consider that option.
As elders and leaders, we are also exploring other gathering options and ways we can improve our current Sunday pre-recorded worship experience. There is space on the survey to speak into all of that. Please pray for the Spirit to work in us through these different worship experiences. Please own your own personal and family spiritual health and vitality and dig into the Word and Prayer with community. There are ways this is happening and it's beautiful to hear. Please keep sharing those with your MC's, DNA's and leader. If you're struggling and we are not aware of the struggle - please let us know. There is also space on the survey for that.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and answer the survey as soon as you can. Survey can be accessed here.
Hey TCC Family,
We want to slightly tweak one plan we’ve made for this week. Instead of us gathering on Zoom Sunday night for a church wide prayer time, we would like to invite and encourage everyone in TCC to join together in The Gospel Coalition’s Day of Prayer and Fasting this Saturday.
There are guidelines on how to engage in prayer as individuals or as a family in the morning. In the evening, (6-7pm) TGC is inviting everyone to their FB Live or You Tube page for a music and prayer gathering led by the various pastors, authors, theologians, and Bible teachers who either lead TGC or contribute. They will guide everyone gathered digitally through a time of worship and prayer.
From 1:30-2:30pm, we want to invite everyone in TCC to a church wide prayer time on a Zoom call. You can join by video/audio or audio only. If you haven’t downloaded the Zoom app, please do so before Saturday. You don’t need an account to join the call, but they do have free accounts available. During that hour we will simply pray and intercede for our world and all affected by this global pandemic. The Zoom call information is below.
As far as fasting goes, we trust you will let the Spirit lead you to how best practice that according to your faith and in light of medical considerations you may have. It could be 1 meal, all day, or something else that would help you physically be reminded of our spiritual hunger for God. If fasting is not something you regularly practice, please read the resources below and pray and considering adding a fast to your prayer time.
TCC Elders are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: TCC Prayer Gathering
Time: Apr 4, 2020 1:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting - https://zoom.us/j/687095443
Meeting ID: 687 095 443
One tap mobile
or call in +1 929 205 6099 US and enter Meeting ID #
Updated Plans for TCC
We will continue to gather virtually each Sunday. We’ll continue this type of gathering as long as the state precautions are in place for large group gatherings. We are constantly praying and considering ways to provide Sunday worship that is more engaging and unifying as a church. Please pray with us and for us.
We know for some parents, it might be a struggle to enjoy a worship gathering in your home. Linked below are some resources that could help. Or you could reach out to some other parents to find what helps them worship together as a family. Or you could consider enjoying the worship time when the kids are in bed asleep. We will be sharing more resources and information later about how to be more intentional about discipling your kids during this season of being home.
While you engage with the worship liturgy, your kids could…
3. We would encourage teens to worship with parents and walk through the liturgy together.
We continue to gather virtually due to recommendations by the state. Please discuss as MC’s more ways to communicate and check in with other. Maybe instead of one virtual gathering a week, there can be several virtual hangout opportunities. Some of those virtual gatherings can simply be fun times enjoying “stay at home” life together. (For example, Netflix and Friends (google it), playing games, or simply laughing about the absurdities of this current life). Texting throughout the week and good ole fashion phone calls are also nice. We are finding that being limited to digital interactions requires more interaction to feel connected to people. Please pursue one another as the body of Christ.
We recommend DNA’s move to virtual gatherings as well during the current stay-at-home order. In place until April 12th. It could be possible to meet outside provided you maintain the 6 feet of distance and wash hands thoroughly before and after. Also - engage deeply and constantly as DNA’s. We’re also asking currently existing DNA’s to “adopt” those not in DNA to pursue and check on. Check with your MC’s leaders about how we are setting that up.
Our mission as a church to make disciples of Jesus through the gospel of Jesus remains in place. So seek and pray for opportunities. At home with your kids and as couples. For example, some of us are having more time with kids around, therefore take advantage of those opportunities. With neighbors on walks - maintaining personal distance. Through the handout we’ve previously provided to reach out to neighbors. You could print and distribute or post on neighborhood social media apps like Next Door. Through communication with people (co-workers, extended family, friends, etc..) - checking on them, asking them how they are doing, and helping combat fears, paranoia, and anxiety with the hope of Jesus and His gospel.
Be careful about trying to be people’s savior. Be careful about over-promising. Find a sustainable pace.
Please continue to give regular offerings as you are able to help fund our commitments as a church. As always you can give online or by mailing your gifts to Nancy Baer (34 Quail Ridge Dr Monroe, La 71203). We are also establishing a special COVID-19 Relief Fund. You can signify this by writing this on your check if you are mailing your giving checks to Nancy. There is also a drop down menu option when you give online and through Push Pay. If you are able to give above and beyond, please consider giving to a benevolence account that we can use to help individuals and families in TCC who may be struggling financially. The government just passed the CARES Act and many in our church will be receiving financial help from the US Treasury over the next several weeks. Some people will desperately need this assistance just to stay afloat. Others might have a surplus because they will continue to be paid by their employers with no significant change. You might be able to give some of that to help others. The benevolence fund will be dispersed at the direction of our elders as needs are made known.
We are also evaluating our budget and not spending any money on anything non-essential. We are focusing on our obligations we’ve committed to funding (networks, missionaries, rent, insurance, etc..), staff compensation, and helping those in need.
We are switching our primary method of communication as a church from Google Hangouts to Zoom. We believe that we will have better quality calls and more flexibility through Zoom. Our elders are going to utilize zoom in a few new ways to hopefully provide opportunities for us to stay connected and encouraged as a church through this season.
1. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday one of our elders will lead a Zoom call at 6:30am and everyone is invited to join in for a brief devotional and prayer time. You can join by audio only or by video and audio. The plan is for this time to be around 10-15 minutes as you begin your day.
2. Each of our elders are considering having digital office hours in which their Zoom chat will be open and anyone can jump in to chat, ask questions or just hang out for a while. Elders are always willing and available for pastoral counseling and if that is desired, please message them individually to arrange a separate Zoom call with him or him and his wife (if a female desires counsel). And as always, if the counseling needed is beyond our ability to help, we will gladly refer you to local Christian counselors.
3. Beginning Sunday night April 5th at 8:30pm, we will have a church wide time of prayer. We know this is late and we will adjust if we need to adjust, but wanted to provide an option after the smallest kids are usually in bed. Everyone is invited to jump on the call and be led to share and/or pray as a church family during these unique days.
Later today we will be sharing the zoom links for the above times to be together as a church.
For now, please go ahead and download Zoom on your phone, tablet, and/or computer. You can set up a free basic account if you want, but it’s not necessary to have an account to join a zoom call. The experience is a little easier on a computer or tablet, but you can navigate everything necessary on your phone as well.