We are in the middle of a harsh winter in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Starting the week before Christmas, we have had snow almost every week. This picture is the road that goes by our house. It has stayed covered with snow and ice for most of the past month. The schools have missed days and weeks at a time, and it doesn’t look any better in the foreseeable future.
We are digging out now from about 9 inches of snow with more sleet and freezing rain to come. While I’m happy that I have a 4-wheel drive F-150 pickup, it has still been tough getting around. But the snow definitely can wreak havoc on schedules and church activities. We have already missed two Sundays due to the snow and this week may not be much better.
So here is my question. What does your church do when it snows? I know some churches are adamant that they will be open no matter what. Some close at even a hint of snow in the forecast, but what should be the deciding factor? Anne Jackson had a great post posing a similar question and it really made me think. For me, it is always a tough decision. I have tried to delegate it to others, but it is usually a collective decision. Our decision is usually based entirely on safety. Even if we tell people to be careful and stay home if the roads aren’t safe in their neighborhood, many still feel obligated to come. Especially those who are serving. We don’t want to put them and their families at risk. I would feel terrible if someone was injured because of a decision we make.
Why do we feel pressure to have church every week? I enjoy meeting together and I truly miss having church services, but for many churches, the answer is simply money. If your church is operating week-to-week on a budget, then missing a week can really affect paying the bills. Luckily, Cornerstone has built up a reserve for times like these so we can continue on without ministry being affected. We trust and pray that God’s people will give generously when they get back to church. Here are a few other things to consider:
- If you have services, then you are responsible to clear walkways, sidewalks, steps, and the parking lot to ensure the safety of those who come. I talked to a pastor this week who had someone fall and break their hip due to ice in the parking lot. The first question the insurance company asked was if they had someone professionally clear the parking lot and sidewalks.
- If the local police have asked people to not travel due to bad road conditions, then please honor their request
- If you do have services, why not simplify and meet with children and adults all together. Combine services and don’t try to do everything like it’s always been done.
- Why not utilize technology and share a video message or audio message with your church online
- Why not provide resources or encourage people to have church in their homes or communities. Share resources or ideas for children to study as well.
This past week, we tried something a little different. Here is the email we sent out. We pointed people to other churches who had online experiences, and we encouraged them to worship as families. At our house, I got out my guitar and we had church together as a family, and it was an awesome time. What other ideas do you have for when services are cancelled? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Dear Church Family
1. If you have missed any of the past weeks from our current teaching series, we would like to encourage you to go back and listen to them online here.
2. Take the time to have a family worship service at home. Involve the entire family with singing and devotions and a time of Bible study.
3. Tune in to one of the many online church services from around the country. Some of the ones that we recommend are Lifechurch.tv (9:30 and 11am), Seacoast Church (9:30 and 11:15am), Newspring Church (11:15am and 6pm), and Northpoint Online (6pm). Lifechurch also has an excellent children’s website for activities and lessons to do at home.
4. If you are a regular giver at Cornerstone, we ask that you continue to worship by giving your normal tithes and offerings online. This may be a good week to check out the online giving options at our Cornerstone website. Our expenses don’t go away on snow days. If you are not comfortable with online giving, of course you are welcome to simply catch up next weekend. Our weekly operations budget has been down over the last month or so with the weather, the holidays, and possibly extra giving to AEP :-). We appreciate your generosity in advance as we continue to combine our resources in order to pursue the vision God has given us for reaching the twin counties.
We hope and pray that you and your family stay warm over the next few days and stay safe if you absolutely must head-out. We can’t wait to see you next Sunday!
Enjoy your time in the snow!!