update Tuesday, November 24, 2020

This year has certainly be an unpredictable year. Our Sunday morning worship service has gone from a normal looking service back in January and February to completely online March through May to all outdoors June through September.

 

In October we finally moved back indoors as the weather began to change. During the month of October we saw roughly 60-65% of the church attending the in-person worship gatherings at either 8:30 or 10:30 and about 35-40% watching online.

 

Over the past 2-3 weeks with the rise of COVID cases nationwide and even within our own county we have seen those numbers flip. Now about 60-65% of the church body is watching the service online and about 35% is attending in-person between the 8:30 and 10:30 services.

 

Because of this and our belief that it will continue to remain this way through the holiday season the elders and staff have made the decision to move to one service time at 10:30a during the season of Advent.

 

That means, beginning this Sunday, November 29th there will only be one service at 10:30a. Childcare will still be provided for kids ages 3 through 5th grade and the live stream option will still be available at 10:30.

 

There were a few reasons for this change. Based on the attendance numbers between the two in-person services the past few weeks, combining them will still keep us well under a safe capacity limit and will allow for safe social distancing.

 

This will also limit the amount of in-person contact that the elders, staff and volunteers will have with people between offering two services. We will be able to deep clean the auditorium during the week and then there will be no need to try and clean as best we can and as quickly as we can between the two services. We believe based on the numbers this will keep our members safer since everything will have been cleaned well before the one service.

 

We do also believe that as COVID cases begin drop in our region and after the holidays more people will feel safer coming back to an in-person worship service again. And since we know this will happen we will be reevaluating in January of whether we will need to go back to two services. As of right now, if we hit a certain number during the 10:30 service we will move back to offering two services so that we are able to keep people distanced appropriately based on the size and space of the auditorium.

 

The elders are doing the best we can to make wise decisions for the good of the church and the safety of our members and so we are so thankful for you all and the graciousness and flexibility you have all shown this entire year.

 

We look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday at 10:30a whether in person or online. Please know that you are loved and cared for greatly.

 

 

 

 

Update Friday, November 13, 2020

This past Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health asked Illinois residents to do whatever they could to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Some of their recommendations were to work from home if you are able, to avoid non-essential travel as much as possible, and to minimize group gatherings to the best of your ability for the next three weeks.
 
 
In light of this request from our Public Health Department, we are making a few internal changes to help guard the health of our staff, our ministry and our community.
 
 
Most of these changes won’t affect the church as a whole but a few things that will be noticeable is that we are asking our staff to work remotely from home as much as they are able to. Our staff will still be in the office doing things that they are unable to do at home, but we’ve asked them to work from home as much as possible.
 
 
We’re also going to be closing the church offices for the next three weeks to any non-staff members unless for emergency or crisis counseling appointments. We’ve asked our volunteers who have been working at reception to not come in to the office through the end of November and so if you call the church, just plan to leave a message. We will be checking the messages regularly and someone will get back with you shortly.
 
 
As was mentioned earlier this week in a video, we are holding off on any small ministry group gatherings on the church campus through the end of November.
 
Our plan is still to gather together for worship on Sunday mornings. We want to guard that time together because it is important for the church to gather for worship. We do ask when you gather with us on Sunday to please wear a mask, refrain from shaking hands for the time being and of course, stay home if you are feeling sick.
 
 
Please continue to pray for those in our church body who have tested positive for COVID. I’ll send an updated list of members to pray for in a Body Life Email this weekend.
 
 
We are looking forward to worshipping with you this Sunday whether in-person or online!
 

 

 

 

 

Service Information as of october 1

Basic Information

  • Worship services will be held at 8:30a and 10:30a in the Auditorium (beginning October 4)
  • Please enter through the Front Lobby or Welcome Center doors
  • Calvary Kids will be available for kids ages 4-5th grade during the 10:30a service. Please check your child in as you arrive at the kiosk in the Front Lobby and bring a towel or blanket for your child to sit on. Kids will be dismissed during the service and our Calvary Kids volunteers will take them to the Elementary Gym for their teaching time. Parent pick up will be held there.
  • The Welcome Center will be open for families with small children that need to leave the Auditorium during the service. Live streaming of the service will be playing there.
  • If you are unable to join us for in person worship you can worship with us live at either service time on our youtube channel (@cbcnormal)

Safety Guidelines

  • Please wear your mask unless you are in your seat
  • Please use hand sanitizer as necessary
  • We encourage 6 ft of social distancing at all times
  • Please refrain from shaking hands or any other physical contact

For the safety of all, please stay home if…

  • you have a fever over 100 degrees
  • you have a cough or sore throat
  • you are experiencing shortness of breath
  • you’ve had contact with anyone positively diagnosed with COVID-19

 

 
 

UPDATE ON JUNE 21

Because of the rain and the ground being wet we are moving our worship gathering indoors today to the church auditorium.

Just a few things to note:

  • Both the 8:30a service and 10:30a service are still be available (no need to register)
  • There is no “drive-in” option but you can watch the services live at 8:30a & 10:30a on our Facebook page
  • Please enter through the front lobby doors only
  • Wash your hands when you arrive or at the very least use hand sanitizer at the hand sanitizing stations as you enter the building
  • Please keep at least 6ft of distance between you and others wherever you are sitting
  • We would strongly encourage the use of masks while you are in the building before the service starts
  • No childcare will be provided this week but the Welcome Center will be open with a live stream to the service and chairs for parents to sit in if they need to take their kids out of the auditorium
  • We would ask everyone at the 8:30a service to move out of the auditorium as soon as the service was over to give the cleaning team enough time to disinfect everything before the 10:30a service starts

 

 

 

update on may 16

The pastoral team has worked hard to put together a reopening strategy for our church. We have walked through this with our staff and deacons and are now ready to share it with the church.

We understand the need and desire to get back together and we are working toward that end. The gathering of the church is incredibly important and our hope is that through this season of distance we’ve seen even more the significance and need for the church to gather together.

At the same time, Scripture also calls on us to obey and submit to our governing authorities. This is clearly laid out in Romans 13:1-2 and Titus 3:1-2. What fascinating about Titus is that Titus found himself in Crete, a deeply corrupt, wicked and sinful place and yet the apostle Paul encourages him to teach sound doctrine and to remind believers to obey those in authority. Those in authority are put there by God to look out for the common good of all people. So, we have definitely felt the tension of desiring to gather and to also obey those in authority asking us not to gather for the safety of the general public.

We’re also called as the church to love and serve our neighbors and so even though it is painful to not be together, we believe and are praying that this season of sacrifice on our part will help lay a foundation of reaching deeper into our community to love and serve them. Our desire for the future is to build strong relationships with community leaders so that we may know how to better serve our neighbors. We want to love them in such a radical way that they can’t help but ask us “why” so that we can turn to them and say, “because God loves you.”

With all that being said, we have put together a reopening strategy based upon Illinois State guidelines. Illinois has put together a 5-phase reopening plan for the state and so our reopening strategy follows along with their recommendations on groups gathering together.

You can find our guide by clicking this link: Covid-19 Re-opening Plan

Keep in mind that this is subject to change as new data comes our way. I have written our state representatives sharing my thoughts and desires from a pastoral view of churches needing to gather back together and I know many others around the state have done the same. So, we are praying for our governor and state leadership as they make decisions for the state of Illinois.

What we continue to ask of you is for you to pray, show love, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience as we do the best we can by the grace of God for the good of the church and the good of our community that God has called us to.

We will keep you updated as things move forward or if changes are made but this gets us at least to a starting point.

For your joy and His glory!

 
 
 

 

update on april 8 – 24 hours of prayer and good friday

Beginning this Friday morning at midnight we will officially kick off our annual 24 hours of prayer on Good Friday.

This day has been something we as a church look forward to each year as we prepare for Easter Sunday.

We will be hosting this prayer meeting online through Zoom. You’ll see the invite link in an email. If you did not receive the email contact Pastor Matt and he will get you the code.

What we are asking you to do is to pick at least one hour during the 24 hours on Good Friday to login and pray together with your church family. We have a different leader leading each hour. You can click HERE to see who is leading which hour.

You can also click HERE to access the agenda for that hour so you can be prepared. I would also encourage you to have a Bible nearby so that you can participate in reading together.

As I said above, please pick at least one hour to join in prayer together. Please make sure as well that you join in at the top of the hour and plan to be together for the entire hour.

I look forward to this day every year and though we can’t physically be together in the same space to pray together, it doesn’t limit the power or effectiveness of prayer. So, let’s cry out to God to do amazing things!

 
Our Good Friday service will be at 6P on Friday HERE.
 
 

 

 

 

UPDATE ON MARCH 19

One of the things we say often is that when God saves us He not only saves us to Himself but also saves us into a community. As Christians we weren’t meant to live in isolation but with one another. That’s what makes this separation so difficult. It’s painful being away from you all but I also know this is temporary and so I’m longing for the day when the church is able to gather together once again.

However, we do need to prepare for this separation to last several more weeks. These are hard days for us. These are hard days for our nation and for millions and millions of people around the world. However, as we have said from day one, our God is sovereign and in control. This has not caught Him off guard. Our God is good, mighty and all-powerful and so let us continually rest in this solid, foundational truth.

Through this season I’ve committed to memorize and meditate daily on Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Let me ask you this and it’s what I’ve asked myself from the beginning of this difficult season: “When this season of trial is over, what do you hope God will have accomplished in your life?” So, how are you walking wisely? How are you making the best use of the time?

Here’s how I want to encourage you to walk wisely, making the best use of the time.

  • Find time to rest. There’s a big difference between laziness and Biblical rest. Find time to enjoy being in God’s presence, resting in His strength and His protection.
  • Spend time in prayer. Set aside time each day to pray. Cast all your cares upon the Lord. Pray with your family, pray with your co-workers.
  • Commit to reading God’s Word. I’ve created a 25 day reading plan through the gospel of Mark that starts tomorrow, March 19. Right now, more than ever our focus needs to be on Jesus. This plan leads you right up to Easter. You can find the plan by clicking HERE or it is also found at the bottom of this message.
  • Read a good book. If you’d like to stop by the church bookstore we’ll allow you to check books out to read without having to purchase the book. Just check the book out at the office desk.
  • Serve others. Look for opportunities to care for your neighbors and co-workers. Our deacons and deaconesses are checking in with members of our church weekly who are more at risk. We want to care for them well during this time. But we also want to serve those who can’t get out of their home but need supplies. If you would be willing to pick up groceries or supplies for members in need would you email me to let me know and I’ll put you on a list of people to reach out to if there is a need. My email address is matt@cbcnormal.org
  • Fill your home with music that draws your affections upward to Christ. We created a playlist of songs on Spotify to help keep your focus on Jesus through difficult days. You can access it by clicking the link:Christ Be Magnified
  • Stay committed to community. Though we can’t physically gather together that doesn’t mean we don’t pursue one another. Let me encourage you to download the Zoom App. This is an online conferencing and meeting app we will be using for Community Groups and Sunday Seminars in the days and weeks ahead. Some community groups have already used them to meet with their groups. Pastor Trevor used it the other night with the community group leaders to walk them through how to utilize it. I’m meeting with the Sunday Seminar teachers to talk through how we can utilize it for classes.
  • Join us for worship. This Sunday we will once again be meeting online. You’ll find us at cbcnormal.churchonline.org. We will be meeting as the church at 10A this Sunday morning. Commit to gathering together with us once again. We’ll be providing families a document to help guide them in family worship this Sunday as well.

Let’s make the best use of the time and see how God grows us in our faith and love for Him and others.

 

 

 

update on march 16

What a wild 72 hours we have gone through and there are still going to be hard days ahead of us and so we need to be prepared to walk through them together with grace, kindness, compassion and our minds set on Christ.

I greatly missed gathering with you all this past Sunday but our hope and prayer is that you were encouraged through God’s Word as we met online.

The plan for this Sunday, March 22 is to gather once again through our online format. This means our physical church campus will be closed this Sunday until our governing officials and health care professionals give us further instruction on when we can meet again collectively in large groups.

This week we will gather online through one location: cbcnormal.churchonline.org

From this site you’ll be able to see when the service will begin (there is a countdown timer), set text or email reminders to remind you when the service starts, join an online chat with other members of Calvary while the service is going on, take notes and give. This will all be in one location and you can access that site at anytime. In fact, let me encourage you to head there now to familiarize yourself with the site.

We’re so thankful for the common grace of technology and that it can be used to help us stay connected even when we are physically apart, but like I said yesterday, it’s a substitute. My prayer is that this time away will only grow our affection and longing for one another and a desire to meet once again.

There are a few things to note for the next couple of weeks through March 31. Most importantly:

ALL ON-CAMPUS EVENTS ARE POSTPONED OR CANCELLED THROUGH MARCH 31. This includes:

  • Calvary Christian Academy (All Illinois schools are cancelled through March 30)
  • Student Ministries
  • Women’s Connection Hour
  • Saturday Morning Men’s Prayer Breakfast
  • Wednesday Morning Men’s Discipleship
  • Senior Potluck scheduled for March 19
  • Chinese Ministry Prayer Meeting
  • Community Groups who use the building

The church offices will be open this week. However, we recommend calling (309) 452-4479 or emailing the office: office@cbcnormal.org if you need assistance. We are encouraging our staff to work from home this week if they can to comply with social distancing recommendations set by our officials. If you need to contact any of them, their email addresses can be found on our staff page. Click HERE

Let me leave you with this passage from Philippians 4:4-7,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How is Jesus filling your heart with joy today?

For Your Joy & His Glory,
Pastor Matt

 

 

 

Update on march 13

One of church leadership’s greatest responsibilities is to care for our church family and for the community that God has called us to. It is an incredible privilege but also a weighty calling. In all things, we want to show love to you, care for our community and bring glory to our God.

How we handle crisis reveals where our trust is and if we do truly love you and our community. If we panic, we are revealing that we are not trusting our God, if we do nothing, it shows a lack of love for you and our neighbors to whom God has called us to serve.

Therefore, in light of these simple realities we want to make wise decisions as we navigate these unprecedented times. We do not need to be afraid. Our God who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field cares much more for His people (Matthew 6:25-33). So, we put our trust in Him and at the same time seek to love our neighbors.

A way to love you and our community is by implementing short-term policies that will seek to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. Our church family and surrounding community have many people that are at high risk for the disease and so implementing these changes, though they inconvenience us, shows love and care for others because we are putting their needs ahead of our own (Philippians 2:4).

Our government officials have urged extra care and caution to any group gatherings larger than 250 people and so beginning this Sunday, March 15:

  • Extra care and attention will be put to cleaning and disinfecting the entire building before and after each use. (Our janitorial staff has already done a great job of keeping things clean).
  • We encourage you to enter through either the Welcome Center doors or through the Front Lobby. Hand sanitizers will be located at these entrances where you can use them as you enter the building. We strongly encourage you to wash your hands upon arriving on Sunday morning.
  • Disinfecting wipes will be available in rooms that are being used (Ex. Sunday Seminars, Calvary Kids). Feel free to use them as you’d like to wipe down any surfaces.
  • Our hospitality team will be at the doors as usual but to keep hand to hand contact at a minimum they will not be shaking hands but will definitely greet you with a warm smile and direct any guests to where they need to go.
  • For at least the next two-three weeks there will be no coffee available. Again, this is to minimize contact as much as possible. Feel free to stop by Starbucks or Panera or anywhere else for coffee if you’d like before you arrive.
  • During the service, we will have a small team of volunteers that will be going around disinfecting the restrooms and other surface areas. Restrooms will still be available throughout the entire morning.
  • We will not be passing an offering plate for the next few weeks but rather ushers will stand at the auditorium doors at the end of the service holding the plates so you can give. We will also have baskets next to each auditorium door where you can give (Let me strongly encourage you to remain faithful in giving if you are not able to join us on Sunday mornings). If you have not set up an account to give online, now may be the time to set that up. Click HERE
  • Our Calvary Kid’s team will be giving extra attention to children washing their hands and instructions on not touching their faces, mouths or other children. We are also giving extra attention to disinfecting each room before and after use.
  • If you or your child is sick, please stay home and watch the service online. The full service will be emailed out roughly an hour after the service ends.
  • The Spaghetti lunch that was scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed to next month. More details to come.


We believe by implementing these changes it shows respect to our authorities in honoring their requests and love to you and our community in that we are not panicking or walking in fear but at the same time we are taking what is going on in our world today very seriously. We believe this brings glory to God.

As we gather, we gather as the redeemed children of God. We are going to sing praises to Him and fix our eyes upon the glory of Jesus Christ. These are the days when trials and difficulty reveal where our hope is fixed. My prayer for us as a church is that we boldly declare the hope we have in Christ and invite others into the joy of knowing Jesus.

For Your Joy & His Glory

 
 
 
 
 

Update on March 12

As you are well aware of by now, the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted just about every corner of the world. This has caused many organizations and nations to take extraordinary steps to slow or stop the spread of the disease.

These are unusual days and something that many of us have probably never seen before to this degree. So, how do we respond as Christians? When we see so many responding to uncertainty with anxiousness, fear and panic how should we navigate these tumultuous days?

Let me encourage you to respond in three ways.

  1. COMPASSIONColossians 3:12, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”


These are days when many are struggling with fear and anxiety over the unknown. Let us make sure that we respond to those struggling with fear with compassion and understanding. Care for them by listening to them and seeking to understand their concerns. In days like these, the world is faced with the truth of their own frailty and mortality. And so, love your neighbor by showing compassion and offering them the hope that is found in Christ.

Ask if you can pray with them that God would give courage, hope and strength. Check in on them from time to time to see how they are doing and to let them know that you are praying for them. As Christians, these are the important moments where we want to live as people who greatly care for our neighbors. Let’s shine the light of the gospel.

Care for one another as well. When we gather as the church, always seek to be edifying with your speech. Our speech should build one another up and offer encouragement in Christ.

Take caution yourself and use wisdom. The encouragement from our health care professionals is to make sure to wash your hands often and stay home if you are sick. Be mindful of others. Some people may be nervous to shake hands or give a hug at church. That is okay. Respect them, care for them, honor them, love them.

Those at greatest risk are the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems or underlying health conditions. They’ve been encouraged to avoid gathering with larger crowds for the time being. If you know of someone in our church that is isolating themselves, please check in on them with a phone call, email or text to let them know you care about them and are praying for them. These are ways in which we can show compassion.

  1. CONFESSIONRomans 3:23-24, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”


This global pandemic is evidence that we live in a broken and flawed world and that we ourselves are broken and flawed. Disease exists because of sin, and this latest example that the world is witnessing is evidence of that. Therefore, as children of God, may we seek to always confess our sin before God and rest in the grace that is ours through Jesus Christ.

May this also be a reminder to us of the hope we have in Christ where one day He will make all things new.

  1. CONFIDENCEPsalm 61:1-3, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”


Most importantly, let me encourage you to walk with confidence and hope. Not a confidence in your own strength, but in the strength of our great God. Our God reigns supreme over His creation. He is sovereign and mighty and He reigns over every atom and every molecule. They all bend to His command. So, we need not walk in fear but rather in the steadfast assurance that our God is in control.

This is the message we need to share with our neighbors and with the world. Don’t waste this time but rather redeem it and use it for the glory of God. When we are daily bombarded with bad news look for opportunities to share the good news of salvation and hope that are freely given through Jesus Christ.

Our church leadership will continue to ask God for wisdom and discernment as we make decisions moving forward. Our janitorial staff has been incredibly vigilant this week in making sure all surfaces are disinfected and cleaned daily. We’ll continue to listen to our government officials and health care professionals to make sure we make wise and right decisions to show our care for you and our community.

We’ll keep you updated if and when any decisions are made that would affect the gathering of the church body.

Church services scheduled for Sunday, March 15 are on and we are greatly looking forward to worshipping with you all. If you are elderly or have other health conditions that put you more at risk and have concerns about gathering with a large group of people, we will be recording the full service on Sunday and sending an email out with a link to watch the service from your home. The email will go out roughly 45 minutes after the service ends.