2020 Fall Ministry Overview & Guidelines
North Cincy Friends & Family,
With schools preparing to resume and the new ministry year quickly approaching, our church’s staff and Session has been working hard over the course of the summer to determine what our ministries can and should look like this fall. While our goal is normally to communicate our long-term plans for the year, given the uncertainty of the current season, we are instead focusing on the Fall, September through Christmas.
As you read over these plans please do so with several things in mind. First, please know that the plans we have made have not been made in a vacuum. The numerous insights and feedback that you have provided through the surveys you have completed, emails you have sent, or conversations you have had with our staff and elders have been invaluable as we have sought to better understand the needs and desires of God’s people at North Cincinnati.
Secondly, the feedback we have received has also made it abundantly clear that our church body has a diversity of needs, opinions, and interests. This, of course, is not surprising. However, I believe it is valuable to restate as a reminder that we are members of a worshipping community with differing needs and points of view. As leadership, we have sought to honor the guidelines of the civil authorities the Lord has placed over us (Romans 13:1), while also tailoring our ministries to address the diverse needs of our church.
Lastly, even as we lay out the plans below, we do so with the expectation that these plans will necessarily adapt and change throughout the year. If navigating this pandemic has taught us anything in leadership, it is the truth of Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” With this truth in mind, the focus of our plans is on the near-term fall months. Our intent is to continue to re-evaluate our ministry for the Winter and Spring months as they draw nearer.
Sunday Mornings at North Cincinnati this Fall -
Our weekly worship of the Lord with His people is vital to our spiritual growth as followers of Christ. After resuming in-person worship services on June 14, we have had approximately 200 different people join us for worship on a Sunday morning over the course of June, July and August. As a point of great encouragement, we have even experienced a steady stream of both online and in-person visitors. Likewise, adding the ability to livestream our worship services has been no small feat for our worship and technology volunteers, and I am very thankful for their work in making it possible for those of us worshipping from home to stay engaged each week via our livestream.
As more of you have gotten comfortable with attending in-person we have continued to closely monitor our current seating capacity for worship on Sunday mornings. Our intent is to continue to offer one worship service for as long as possible, while maintaining the practices that many of you have communicated are essential to your being comfortable to attend. We are asking that you continue to register for these services so that we can anticipate and prepare for your attendance each week.
Sunday School Classes this Fall –
As we communicate in our church’s mission statements, one of the ways that we help people to become mature and equipped followers of Christ is by helping them to “belong to a community founded on grace” and to “grow in the grace of Jesus Christ for a lifetime.” For the younger members of our church community, one of the primary places they experience this belonging and growth is through joining together with their peers and teachers on a Sunday morning. Sadly, it these young people who have felt the loss of belonging and growth most acutely during this time. This Fall, we are hoping to address this need by facilitating Sunday morning classes once again. Beginning Sunday, September 13th, we plan to resume both our church nursery and Sunday School classes for children, birth through sixth grade. These classes will occur during the worship service at 10:45 AM and will run from September 13th through November 22nd.
We recognize that this approach is a deviation from our normal practice that has encouraged children, first grade and above, to join together with their families in the same corporate worship service each week. However, given the uniqueness of this season, we believe this approach is a temporary solution to better engage our younger members to develop relationships with their peers, and to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word. Likewise, we believe this approach best utilizes our limited volunteers in this season while also helping a larger segment of our congregation to ease back into a routine of gathering in-person with God’s people on a Sunday morning. One of the unexpected blessings of our recorded livestream is that this also allows those serving in these classes during this engage with the worship service at a later time.
Given the way in which being outdoors reduces the risk of COVID-19, and the fact that the Lord has given us a property with an amazing outdoor space, we plan to hold these classes outside whenever possible. Our nursery will continue to be facilitated indoors. Classes will be moved indoors when necessary due to weather and will follow the COVID-19 guidelines that our Session has recently adopted. Please see below for more on these requirements.
COVID-19 Guidelines for the Fall
Sunday afternoon, our Session met to approve the COVID-19 guidelines that we are asking all of our ministries to follow this fall. These guidelines apply to all ministries meeting at North Cincinnati Community this Fall, whether on Sunday mornings or during the week.
- As always, please monitor your own health prior to attending or serving with any ministry each week. If you have experienced any signs of illness or have had contact with any positive COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days, please refrain from serving or attending for the well-being of your brothers of sisters in Christ.
- Likewise, before arrival parents are responsible to check for symptoms of illness from their child. There must be no signs of illness including a runny nose, no fever for 72 hours and no positive COVID cases in the child’s contacts in the previous 14 days.
- Following the practice of our local schools and the recommendations of the CDC, masks will be required to be worn by all adults and children in grades kindergarten and above when inside the building. Masks will not be required to be worn when outside. Social distancing is encouraged whether inside or outside.
- When meeting inside, room occupancy in our classrooms will be limited to one person per every twenty-five square feet of space. Room capacity signs will be posted outside of each classroom in the church.
- If you or your child test positive for COVID-19 or have had contact with any positive COVID-19 cases within 14 days after attending a church activity, please inform the appropriate ministry leader or staff person as soon as possible.
Again, the guidelines above apply to all ministries meeting at North Cincinnati Community Church this Fall, whether on Sunday mornings or during the week. Individual ministry leaders or staff may have additional requirements specific to the ministries they lead. For the specific guidelines for our church nursery and Sunday School classes, please see the attached guidelines put together by Nursery Coordinator by Cheryl Poole and North Cincy Kids Director, Savannah Whittridge. (CLICK HERE).
As a pastoral note, please recognize in our guidelines that we have differentiated between what is required and what is encouraged. Some of you will feel more comfortable wearing a face-covering even when it is not required. Similarly, some will feel more or less comfortable by the social distancing practices of others. While it may be uncomfortable at times to do so, please feel the freedom to express your preferences with those around you, whether that is wearing a mask outside when others do not, or by taking a few steps back when others engage you in conversations. Likewise, please do not be offended if someone chooses to wear a mask outside when you do not, or desires to keep a greater distance in conversations than you prefer. We are all learning to be good dance partners in navigating this season of life, and we all need to give one another and ourselves both grace and freedom.
Small Groups & Mid-Week Ministries -
While children best experience growth and belonging through their classes on Sunday mornings, adults and teens do so throughout the week by being part of a small group or Bible study. Our church has a number of different types of small groups that you can join, including men’s or women’s Bible Studies, discipleship groups, or an Alongside Group for women. Likewise, our student ministry has small groups that meet throughout the year as well.
It is my hope that this year, and every year, that every teen and adult will either lead or participate in a small group of some kind. As I am fond of saying, it is in a small group that we best experience growth and belonging as followers of Christ. In light of the pandemic, some of these groups will meet in person while others will meet virtually using Zoom or a similar technology. More details will be made available shortly on our various groups for the coming year. Most groups will resume meeting the week of September 13th. If you are interested in getting involved in a group and need help getting connected, please reach out to our Pastor of Connection, Matt May (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monthly All-Church Gatherings –
One of the things we have heard from many of you is of the isolation and disconnectedness that you have felt during this time. In light of this, one of our desires to is provide opportunities each month for us to gather as a community and to connect with one another outside of Sunday mornings. Some of these opportunities will be primarily social opportunities for us (young and old) to talk, have fun and catch-up with those we may not see regularly on Sunday mornings or who are not fellow members of our small group. Other opportunities will have a more direct spiritual focus, such as an evening of worship and prayer.
The first of these monthly events is our end of summer party on August 29th, at 6:00PM. We’ll have a giant slip-n-slide for kids, and a corn hole tournament for adults. Individually packaged food will be supplied from Jimmy John’s. Please be sure to RSVP using our church website by Friday, August 28th so that we make sure we order the current amount of food.
Watch for updates on our plans for September, October and November in our weekly emails and Sunday morning announcements.
Weekly Church Podcast – Beyond the 52
Lastly, I want to let you know about a new weekly ministry endeavor we are beginning this year, called the “Beyond the 52 Podcast.” Each week the podcast will be a place for us to highlight topics, stories, and resources that touch on what the Lord is doing at North Cincinnati. Each podcast will be approximately 15-20 minutes. The topics will be practical and the length short enough to listen to on afternoon walk, or on your daily commute. Look for more details to come in the weeks ahead.
Expect to hear more details regarding our various ministries from their individual leaders over the next few weeks. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, one of our elders, or any of the staff.
I am personally excited for what the Lord has for us in the year ahead. As I communicated Sunday, while we all experience great uncertainty in this season, we must recognize that our God is not surprised. He is good. He is in control. He has purposes that He is accomplishing in us and through us. May we not fail to learn from Him as we endeavor to lean on Him in dependence.
With you and for you,