Staying Connected in Lockdown - April 1st
This is a challenging time for all of us that requires some patience and innovation. Much of our church family interaction has been moved to some form of electronic communication by the “stay at home” orders by our local officials. Some have been asking our treasurer how they can give their tithes and offerings.
HOW TO GIVE
1) Online – The easiest and most secure way to give it through the new online giving platform. Find it here: https://fbcwatauga.org/give
2) Mail – You can mail your offer to 6124 Plum St, Watauga, TX 76148.
3) Drop Off – You can drive through the awning by the offices and place your envelope in the mailbox on MONDAY morning. Our Treasurer has asked that you do this right at 9:30am on Monday morning. It will be collected by our counters and added to Sunday’s offering totals.
HOW TO STAY CONNECTED
1) Scan our website. https://fbcwatauga.org Our new website format allows us to keep it up to date much easier.
2) Follow First Baptist Watauga on Facebook. If you “like” the church’s Facebook page you get automatic updates. https://www.facebook.com/fbcwatauga/?ref=bookmarks
3) YouTube - Find all of our recent messages, Bible studies, and podcasts on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga If you subscribe to the channel, you’ll get updates when a new message is posted.
4) Check your email. Almost all of our communication is also sent to our church members who are signed up on our “News Email” list.
CHURCH-WIDE SCHEDULE (through April)
Monday Evening Prayer Meeting via Zoom at 7pm. I’ll send out instructions each Monday around noon.
Tuesday Morning devotional on Facebook Live around 9am led from Br. Dennis.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study at 7pm – This will stream on https://fbcwatauga.org/study, Facebook, and YouTube.
Thursday Morning devotional on Facebook Live around 9am led from Br. Dennis.
Sunday Growth Group – Our Growth Group leader will publish a lesson at 9am each Sunday Morning.
Worship – Livestream worship with Mathew and our praise band and preaching from Br. Dennis or Kevin Skinner.
Our Children Ministry, Student Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, and Men’s ministry are also publishing material that they will communicate to their members.
We are planning a special Good Friday service that will be led by Mathew and Brother Dennis. Stay tuned in for more information on that!
God bless you and stay safe!
Until He Returns,
Br. Dennis Hester
COVID Update #9 - Sunday, March 22nd
New guidance and restrictions have been put in place in Tarrant County since my last COVID-19 update. Because of the precautions we were already taking, little will change for us.
The office was already closed to the public. With the new limited travel recommendations, I have instructed Julie to stay at home until further notice. I have also recommended that our staff continue to work from home as much as possible. We will be allowed to utilize the church for preparing for and producing online content for our church family.
Our church Treasurer and Assistant treasurer will collect and account for all offerings both online and those delivered to the church. They will continue to provide a statement of offerings and the weekly summary early in the week for accountability purposes. A staff member will collect the mail each day to help us keep up with mailed offerings and bills.
Some are certainly concerned about our finances. We were slightly ahead when this crisis hit us. I encourage you to continue to pray for and support the finances of the church. I want you to know that in consultation with our financial leaders we will continue to pay our ministerial staff and administrative assistant at our budgeted rate as long as possible. We have cancelled our cleaning service for now and are looking for ways to cut other costs. I understand that some of you may be facing reduced hours or job loss. I will be praying for each of you.
Our staff and deacon body will continue to stay connected to our church family as much as is possible through electronic communication. Our staff will continue to produce online content that will be published on our Facebook pages, YouTube channel, and website.
I am grateful and privileged to serve as your pastor through this challenge. Please reach out with any specific need you have through email or our website. I plan to take tomorrow off and rest. Pray that Lord continue to lead and guide me as your shepherd.
For HIS Church,
Br. Dennis Hester
COVID Update #8 – Thursday, March 19th
We will NOT have Growth Groups or our regular public Worship Service at our facility for the next two Sundays (March 22nd March 29th). We will provide a LIVE worship service for you and your family to tune into on our website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Vimeo channel. Sandra Roberts is recording Growth Group lessons that we will publish Sunday morning as well.
Our worship service will feature our live praise and worship team and a message from Brother Dennis. The service will be structured much like every other week.
Additionally, all other events and services including Wednesday night activities have been cancelled through April 3rd. Only necessary meetings for the ongoing business of the church such as the counting team and worship practices will be held at our facility. These decisions have been made to stay in compliance with the orders provided by Governor Abbott and our state health commission.
Your pastoral staff and deacon body will remain available to serve you as best as we can. Hospital and nursing home visits have been limited or eliminated by the health guidelines. However, we will seek try to stay connected and minister to our church family in every possible way.
Our team has done a superb job providing online content for every level of our church. I enjoyed adding the Wednesday night Bible study yesterday and will continue this venue through this crisis. I’d remind you that we don’t GO TO church, WE ARE THE CHURCH.
If you are having difficulty connecting to the Bible studies or worship services online, please let us know. I understand that technology can be frustrating. There are MANY ways to do this. In just a couple minutes today, I was able to show one of our families how they can watch the service and Bible studies on their living room TV! If you are struggling, let us know. We are investing a lot of time into providing these alternative lessons and services and we want you to be able to enjoy them.
I have asked the deacons to contact by phone any of our members who may not be getting this information electronically. If YOU are aware of someone who may not get these emails, please keep them informed. If you have a neighbor or church friend who is not able to watch the service online, I’d encourage you to invite them into your home to watch it with you.
May the Lord bless us and send a spiritual awakening to our nation through this crisis.
In Christ’s Service,
COVID Update #7 – Tuesday, March 17th
FBCW has postponed our upcoming Safety and Security meeting that was scheduled for this coming Saturday. We have also put all plans for outreach into our community until this crisis passes. We continue to work through the recommendations of our local and state health officials, we believe these measures are prudent.
Please stay tuned for future updates. Presently, we plan to have worship service as regularly scheduled on Sunday Morning. In this rapidly changing environment, there are no guarantees.
We will certainly live stream our service and have added a mid-week Bible study that will be live tomorrow at 7pm (Wednesday).
Stay safe and pray for God’s provision and protection.
In His Service,
Update #6, March 16th - Office Closing
Our local and state health officials have asked that those who can, plan to work from home during this COVID-19 outbreak. With this in mind, we will be closing the church offices to the public for the next 2 weeks as of noon today.
Your ministry team and deacons will be available for any of your needs. With our cellphones and social media, we will be readily available. You can contact us by text, email, messenger, or through the contact link on the website. Your staff will not be taking this time off! We will be in and out of our offices and working from home. If you need to meet with us, you can make an appointment and we will be more than happy to meet with you face to face.
Some small groups will continue to meet as needed. Your leader will let you know. These include such groups as the counting team, worship teams, and etc.
We also plan to continue our Sunday Morning Worship time and Growth Groups unless we receive different guidance from our health officials. Mathew will be installing updated equipment this week to facilitate a more professional and stable live stream experience.
Please continue to pray for your staff during this challenging time as we seek to fulfill the mission of the church. Please also consider continuing your tithe and offerings as we seek to move forward. If the live stream is helpful to you, you might consider a special donation to help cover the costs of the new equipment. You can give through this link: www.fbcwatauga.org/give
In HIS Service,
Update #5, March 15th - CHILDCARE NEED
What a wonderful morning of worship in the midst of an incredible fear-filled week. I am grateful for a staff and church family who has come together in this difficult time. I pray the Holy Spirit ministered to all those who attended by live-stream this morning as He did for those of us in the building
We have identified an important ministry need.
Our kids will be required to stay home from school for the next couple weeks. Some of these younger kids have parents that will be required to work and they don’t know how they will manage their kids childcare. We also have some mature high school kids, college students, and teachers who are also stuck at home. We would like to connect those in need with those who can help.
We can do this through our church website. I have set up a webpage titled “Kids Connection.” Whether you would like to serve by providing care or you need help with your kiddo, you can fill out the form on this web page and we will immediately get to work connecting you.
Certainly, we will be working with trusted families who have already passed our child safety guidelines. More than likely you’ll simply be working together with families you already know.
For those who wish to help, be aware that these kids may need some assistance with homework assignments when their schools begin to provide distance learning curriculum. This will likely look very different from one district to the next.
I’m confident that our church family will come together to help one another in these crazy times.
Sign up to help or sign up for childcare assistance through this link. https://www.fbcwatauga.org/kids-connection
Br. Dennis Hester
Update #4, March 14th @ 9:45 pm
Our services will be live tomorrow at 10:45am. We tested our live feed tonight with a 20 minute Coronavirus update. It went pretty well with only a minor hiccup. If you are unable to join us in person tomorrow, you can enjoy the full worship time and message live on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga
By next Sunday, we will have installed better and more updated equipment for this purpose. By then, we will plan to stream on multiple platforms (including our website and Facebook).
If you weren’t able to watch the video earlier, let me give a couple key highlights.
1) We don't live in fear, because we can trust God to lead us.
2) We will replace the welcome/greeting time with a time of prayer.
3) We encourage you to stay home if you are ill, have been exposed to recent illness, or are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections.
4) AWANA will continue to follow the Birdville ISD school schedule. When school is out, AWANA does not meet.
5) We have cancelled ALL midweek meetings for this coming week. So our YOUTH group will NOT meet this coming Wednesday.
6) We will continue to assess the situation and update the church through Facebook, emails, and our website.
If you have any question, feel free to contact your deacon, staff, or the church office.
I hope you join us in worship tomorrow, either in person or through our live stream.
God bless you and stay safe!
Update #3, Announcement, March 14th @ 5:30 pm
Tonight at 8pm, LIVE from FBC Watauga, Pastors Kevin Skinner and Dennis Hester will give an update concerning our church’s plans for the coming week. We will share an encouraging passage of Scripture and pray for our community and our nation.
We have two purposes for this broadcast. We hope to encourage and inform you during this crazy time. We also want to test our live-streaming feed before our morning worship service tomorrow.
Please join us at 8pm fbcwatauga.org/live or https://www.youtube.com/user/FBCWatauga
Update #2, March 13th @ 7:00 pm
In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen many changes within our community. Both Tarrant and Dallas County officials have asked for any gatherings of more than 500 people to be cancelled or postponed. The schools in our area have extended Spring Breaks and many are preparing to finish the year utilizing technology.
At First Baptist Watauga, we continue to pray for our community and our nation. We will continue to evaluate and adjust to the threat (not the scare) as we are directed by the health experts in our community. We have decided to continue with our Sunday Service this week for a couple of reasons.
1) Our attendance numbers fall well below the threshold established by the health experts for large gatherings.
2) The number of COVID-19 cases in Tarrant county continue to be VERY LOW. (3 cases out of over 2,000,000 people).
3) There are no known cases among any of our church family or extended families.
As I mentioned in my communication yesterday, we are making preparations to live stream our service. Mathew and his team have spent several hours today working on this for our church family. We are also grateful to Cross City Church in Euless who has loaned us a key piece of equipment so we can begin streaming this week. This week may be a little rough, but by next week we will have all new equipment in order to provide a better live streaming experience. Tomorrow, I will send out instructions for those who wish to utilize this service.
Let me leave you with a few important thoughts.
1) As followers of Christ, we live by faith and not fear. I encourage you to spend extra time in God’s word and in prayer through this challenging time.
2) If you are sick, please stay home and worship with us by connecting online.
3) If you have had any exposure to the virus, please let us know so we can take the necessary steps for our church family.
4) We have already taken extra measures to sanitize our preschool and nursery area. Though the statistics show that our children are the least vulnerable to this disease, we want to assure you that we are taking steps to care for our most precious family members.
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
We will continue to keep you updated in the coming days. Your pastors and deacons are here to serve you and pray for you. Please let us know if you need help. Please lift up your staff as we seek to serve you and the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus in these days.
In HIS Service,
Update #1, Pastor's Letter from March 12th @ 5:00 pm
OUR PASTOR'S RESPONSE TO THIS WEEK'S COVID-19 NEWS
Let us be thankful, even in these challenging times. We live in a world that is easily shaken, but we are a part of an unshakeable Kingdom. This week, fear of COVID-19, the corona virus, has swept across our nation. Though we should take certain precautions to protect the most vulnerable among us, I do not believe this is a time to panic. In His sovereignty, the Lord has planned for us to study this encouraging text this Sunday.
“You have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm. . . . Instead you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. . . . Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful.” – Hebrews 12:18, 22-24, 28.
We have no plans to cancel our Sunday worship or Growth Groups. However, we will be making a few adjustments to take the necessary precautions for the safety of our church family. We will also make some changes to help you stay connected in the coming weeks as the threat of this virus passes over our community.
1) We will suspend our Welcome time in our worship service and replace it with a time dedicated to prayer for our community, nation, and world.
2) We will begin live-streaming our services this week with the equipment that we have on-hand.
3) We are investing in new technology that should be installed next week to significantly upgrade our live-streaming capabilities. This will provide a higher quality remote viewing experience. It will be an asset to the church during this difficult time and will also be useful in the years ahead.
We will continue to emphasize some practices that we have already put in place.
1) By not passing a plate for our Sunday offerings, we do not have to worry about the transmission of the virus in that form. We will continue to emphasize our new and helpful online giving platform.
2) We will continue to provide hand sanitizer in the auditorium and the nursery entrance.
3) Our twice weekly cleaning services are provided by an outside agency. Any time we have an infection concern, we take extra steps to clean and sanitize, especially in the nursery and preschool area.
How you can help:
If you are ill or show any symptoms, please stay home. We hope that you will stay connected through the new live streaming opportunities. Our church is also active on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with a communicable disease, please contact your deacon or the church office to let us know. Your privacy is crucial, but we also desire to take the necessary precautions for the rest of the church family.
If you cannot attend physically, please continue to support your church and staff through prayer. If the new online streaming is beneficial to you, you may consider an extra donation to help cover the cost of this expense.
If you have a specific prayer request, you can communicate that to the staff on our website.
In Christ’s Service,