Live life with more peace and less rage. Choose radical love.
Here's my chance!
Have you been saying that this week as you've looked for opportunities to apply Jesus' teaching? I have. We have as a church.
A beacon of hope
We have been busy repurposing our wonderful facility to be a beacon of hope. Numerous groups and activities take place every day here. We have been hosting regular COVID Vaccine Clinics on our campus (PLEASE get a vaccine!), and we've opened up our facility to be utilized by Three Rivers School District for AP testing. Check out the post Three Rivers did on Facebook about using our facility and see responses below!
COVID updates and info
By now, I'm sure you've heard of Governor DeWine's June 2nd lifting of COVID restrictions. Thank you, Jesus! I'll communicate more specifics on what that means for our in-person gatherings next week, but this is the next phase in our increasing recovery from Covid, and we will respond in an efficient and effective manner that serves our mission. For now, if you're still concerned about gathering again, our online community continues to be the best way you can engage in the ministry at Whitewater. We have invested many resources and made significant strides in the breadth and quality of our online ministry since COVID began. Thousands more are now being reached because of this. We are now a global ministry with local outreach.
I just read an article from Kent Fillinger on how COVID has affected Christian churches of all sizes in our country, and primarily because of our online ministry/reach, Whitewater is now the 23rd largest church in the US. I've never been caught up too much in attendance numbers because they don't reveal the more important data of whether someone is becoming a disciple of Jesus (and then a disciple-maker!). And trust me, when you live for attendance numbers, you die by those same numbers! The number I do pay attention to, however, is the number of baptisms each year as it is a reflection of whether the church is converting people and obeying the Great Commission of Christ. That's when numbers count! And, we are outliers for folks going All-In. Kent's article shared that "Churches saw a significant dip in baptisms last year. The total number of baptisms in 2019 was 32,139 among the 439 churches that participated in the survey-an average of 96 baptisms per church. In 2020, there were 13,502 baptisms among 421 churches-an average of 33 baptisms per church. The year-over-year decline was 66 percent. Among the various categories, megachurches saw a 61 percent decrease in baptisms-the biggest decline-while small churches had the littlest decline, just 1 percent."
We saw 220 people go All-In at Whitewater in 2020. 220...in the middle of a worldwide pandemic! Something to pause and celebrate and give God praise for. I know we did not do everything perfectly during the last 14 months as we pivoted to lead the church in an unprecedented season, but clearly, God was (and still is) at work.
The Covid pandemic is going to end soon, at least in America. A new normal will emerge even though no one is quite certain what that will look like in the world or the church. Much will be written, discussed, and documented about the lessons learned during this chaotic and traumatic time. May it be said of us in coming years that, "When the world was at its worst, the Whitewater church was at her best." This is the church that Jesus died for and the one I want to be associated with! Hope you do, too.