What's Next: Preparing for Ministry Post COVID-19 (July 3)
Hello Grace Family,
We continue to grow in appreciation for our Grace family and believe that the painful events of 2020 have made the importance of meaningful relationships clearer than ever.
The CDC recently reported that over ⅓ of American adults are experiencing clinical symptoms of anxiety or depression. This same time last year, only 11% were displaying the same symptoms. At Grace, we believe this statistic is a stark reminder of the impact COVID-19 has had on each of us. We’re praying for healing, and are planning to take serious action personally and organizationally to prepare ourselves for life post COVID-19.
Ministry leaders and statisticians studying national church trends have begun to use the following terminology: COVID-19 is not merely an interruption of our routine, but rather a disruption. Churches across the United States, including Grace Fellowship, will not look exactly the same as they did prior to the pandemic. There are few areas of ministry that will remain untouched by the psychological, financial, and spiritual ramifications of the past few months.
Our desire is to remain nimble and flexible. We are willing to adapt our methods in order to remain spiritually alive in heart and practice, financially equipped to handle future risk, and missionally proactive – anticipating cultural movements that may influence how the church fulfills its calling. More and Better Disciples.
With these considerations in mind, Grace Fellowship has opted to execute two strategic merges to prepare for ministry post COVID-19. These decisions were not made lightly. Our Elders and staff have agonized over the wisest path forward, collaborating through days and weeks of conversations, only wanting to take action after we were confident in God’s leading.
As of our Sunday, September 13 regathering date (you can read about that here), Grace Fellowship will execute the following merges:
Grace Greenbush will merge with Grace Latham.
This means that Grace Greenbush will no longer meet physically at the Greenbush campus. Instead, all ministries and weekend services previously hosted at our Greenbush building will now move to our Latham building. For Greenbush small groups and ministries that have been meeting in homes, those ministries will continue to meet as they have historically.
On Monday, June 29, Grace Greenbush met over Zoom to discuss the upcoming merger and ask questions. Our staff has been overwhelmed and grateful for the people of Grace Greenbush as they have immediately taken action – checking in on small groups, connecting to Latham leaders and volunteers, offering to process through the physical move, and more. The people of Grace Greenbush are a community of spiritual leaders with a kingdom mindset, and Grace staff will do everything within our power to transition Grace Greenbush ministries once held at our Greenbush building to our Latham building.
Latham Saturday services will merge with Latham Sunday services.
Starting the weekend of our regathering on September 13, Grace Latham will no longer host 5pm services on Saturday evenings. We have been so grateful for the life change coming out of Saturday services for the past 15 years. However, we believe this is a strategic season to reevaluate our approach to weekend services. COVID-19 will require volunteers and staff, at least initially, to focus their energies on planning and execution of safety standards that will keep our congregation healthy; and technological advancements have negated the need to record a multisite sermon on a Saturday. We have concluded that weekend services will be more effective overall with Grace staff and volunteers focused on Sunday.
In July and August, Grace Fellowship will continue to stream weekend services at 5pm on Saturdays, and Home Groups are encouraged to continue meeting at that time.
But how will we all fit!? After Greenbush and Saturday night merge into Sunday mornings at Latham, we will have transitioned from nine services to six services across all our locations. Additionally, our sanctuary capacity may be lower than typical if New York State social distancing guidelines are active in September.
We will remain flexible and open to the possibility of adding additional services. However, we do not anticipate we will need to do so… at least right away. Studies published by Barna and other religious-based research organizations are reporting historically low church attendance, as low as 20-40%, upon in-person regatherings. If Grace Fellowship follows national trends, we anticipate that attendance will be lower than typical on September 13 and will increase slowly over the upcoming year or two, providing us time to add services if it’s needed. If we need to add services immediately, PRAISE GOD! We will do so quickly with joy and excitement.
While we are grieving the loss of ministries we’ve invested in heavily over the years, we believe these transitions will set Grace Fellowship up to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing – teaching the Gospel.
Grace Fellowship – One Church across Three Locations – Latham, Halfmoon, and Saratoga, with services on Sundays at 9am and 11am. We look forward to future ministry with our Grace family for many years to come.
Grace Fellowship Staff