by Scott Nelson, lead pastor
This pandemic has brought on so many bad things. So many things have been canceled, people are divided, and frustrations are running high. But God has been doing so many incredible things as well. People are waking up to faith, spiritual habits are being formed, and families are getting closer together.
I was looking back over the last month of communications that I have sent out to the church. Because there’s been so much changing (which has been happening for months), most of my communication has been about details, changes, and what is happening next. But I wanted to take time here to share some of the incredible things that Jesus is doing in our church and people’s lives. Because there is so much to share!
Not too long ago, I sent a text message to someone who I hadn’t seen in a little while. He came to the outdoor service and found me when the service was over. He was in tears, telling me how much he needed the worship, how much he missed his church family, and how good it was for someone to reach out to him. Those tears were important. People are connecting to each other in Life Groups, carrying each other‘s burdens, studying the Bible together, and serving in our community together. A bunch of new people joined our groups this year, including some people out of state via Zoom. Our church has helped many people financially, and people have given generously to allow us to do that. We served recently with Love Modesto, and we are planning on doing a big serving project for the staff and teachers Ustach Middle School in November. Our church loves to serve in Jesus’ name, and God is using us in big ways!
Worship has been incredibly powerful. From our REFUEL worship nights to Sunday mornings to online worship, people have shared how important worship has become in their lives. We have had eight different versions of Sunday mornings since March, and our Service Ministry Teams have pivoted again and again without any complaining. Our church family has shown incredible grace while prioritizing worship; no matter what we will honor the Name of Jesus. We have had people sit through cold weather, smoky nights, and on uncomfortable seats so they could worship their Lord together. People have worshiped in homes and online, making sure that glorifying Jesus stays central to their lives. Although some people are drifting, others are jumping in even more, knowing that worship is absolutely vital to our souls.
I have been leading our youth ministry in this interim time, and we have some incredible young people! We have been emphasizing spiritual habits and taking ownership of their faith, making it their own. They have stepped up in big ways! Worship is powerful, the Bible studies are incredible, and I can see a great spiritual depth in them. New people have been invited and are coming as well. Our Kids Ministry has a message each Sunday, they have cared for families at home and online, and they have recently been uploading teaching videos as well. They also have monthly events that help kids get connected to stay socially and spiritually healthy in this time of isolation. The pandemic has been especially hard on our kids, and our Kids Ministry has been a lifesaver. One kid even asked Pastor Hannah if they could do a Park Day every week because she misses seeing her friends. These are powerful events.
Finally (but there is so much more I could share), God‘s mission continues. New people are coming to Covenant Grove, joining online and in person. There are people coming to faith in Jesus for the first time, others are serving in ministry after years away, and others are adding in new spiritual habits to their lives. God has used the pandemic as a great revealer, catapulting people forward in faith, and focusing them on what is most important in life. You won’t hear these stories on the news, but Jesus is at work in big ways in peoples lives.
This has been a tough year for everybody, but God is still at work. He is at work in our church family. Your prayers and support mean so much, so keep them coming! Keep participating as much as you can in any way that you feel comfortable. Whether it is in person, online, or a combination, make your spiritual walk a top priority. There are so many good things that God is doing, and He has a plan to bless our world through His people. Let’s keep running after Him together. Be encouraged and God bless you!