Starting June 7, we will resume in-person Sunday services at 9am & 11am.
We're very excited for our first ever, drive-in church service this Sunday at 9am on the lower field.
Come early, our smiling parking team will be ready as early as 8am. Once you're parked, someone on our welcome team, with their face mask and gloves, will come by your car and drop off one song sheet per vehicle and a sealed bag with kids activities and crayons. Feel free to lower your windows for fresh air. We'll be worshipping Jesus from inside our cars.
Be sure to bring your joy, patience, passion for Jesus, your Bible, and something to take notes. We ask that you stay inside your car, please, out of love and respect for others. We will have portable restrooms available. If you need to use the restroom, please wear a face mask. (So long as you're inside your car, there is no need to wear your mask.). We plan to livestream the drive-in service at 9am (then repeat the recording at 11am.) It's going to be epic. It's a historic event for Cypress and its Pentecost Sunday, a day to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and new beginnings.
We hope you will join us in your car or online on Sunday at 9am.
I hope this email finds you at peace, beautiful church.
I know you’re probably getting bombarded with all sorts of information from all sorts of sources and I know this is a lengthy update, but please read it. I believe it will add fuel to your “praise God” fire this week.
Our elders met on Tuesday. Some great things are happening within our congregation! So much so, that we could very well emerge from this pandemic - whenever that might be - in a stronger state than when we entered into it. Spiritually, God is on the move. I believe the revival we have been praying for, and had begun to see early signs of, is continuing to bear fruit. We’re continuing to meet online each week on Tuesday evenings at 6pm for a prayer gathering. It’s inspiring to hear the gospel conversations and interactions many of you are having with friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, roommates, and others. Not only this, the depth of relationships we’ve forged with one another - and are forging - are also bearing multiplied fruit. Yes, we see suffering, but you are helping each other experience what I call “the blessing of redemptive suffering" (Phil. 1:29). You never know until times of testing what is truly happening in the hearts of people (especially our own), but God is working out some great things in and through our congregation right now. Praise God!
I’m hearing from many of you, and one of the questions I am being asked about a lot is regarding finances. Financially, there has been a lot of sacrificial giving. Few things humble me more than this. This giving has allowed us to help a number of families who have been hit hard by the shutdown to pay rent, get car repairs, pay for groceries, etc. It’s been beautiful to watch. Also, all our staff have been able to continue working (and we’ve definitely needed them!). We are so grateful. On top of all this, as the elders heard on Tuesday, there is potential we could come out of this crisis in a strong financial position. Sacrificial giving like this is the sign of an incredibly healthy, vibrant church (Acts 11:27-30). Praise God! Obviously, we’re not through this yet, and we are also utterly dependent on God, but how good is he to us! Finally, I also want you to know that a lot of planning is going on right now (and preparations are being made!) for when we are able to return. We will most likely come back to two services at 9am and 11am with Covid-19 social distancing practices in place. We are also hoping to continue a “sanctuary version” of our new livestream ministry. Please know that we are planning to meet together again as soon as possible but we aren’t willing to put anyone’s health or safety at risk.
All in all, God is doing some amazing things during a trying time. He deserves a lot of praise. I hope you will join me in giving him praise for these things and others this week!
Grace and peace,
Our elders met online Monday night (March 30). I have an update for you on their 30-day plan for Cypress. Before I get into that …
Well done. Keep it up.
You need to know how encouraged the elders have been by you. They have been super-encouraged! This crisis has brought out the best in our congregation. You’ve stepped-up in so many ways, including -
- your enthusiasm over our Sunday livestreams
- your donations of non-perishable food to feed hungry families
- your eagerness to register for our new church directory
- your generosity to help one another financially
- your creativity in communicating with each other through letters, notes, phone calls, emails, texts, posts, drive-by waves, online meetings, etc.
- your concern for one another’s physical health
- your desire to keep each other spiritually strong through prayer and by sharing God’s Word
You’ve been inspiring. Your response to this global pandemic reminds me of a verse Joni and I read yesterday: “Meanwhile, the saints stand passionately patient, keeping God’s commands, staying faithful to Jesus” (Rev. 14:12, Message). It’s my joy to be your pastor.
The Elders’ 30-Day Plan
The elders have been working hard behind the scenes. After prayerful consideration and in light of the federal government’s call for the continuation of shelter in place until April 30, our elders have decided to continue to livestream Sunday services on Facebook and at cypresschurch.org through April. Just so you know, the elders and I don’t consider this livestream option a onefor-one substitute for gathering in our sanctuary with each other. We lose so much when we are not together. The livestream option is definitely a distant second choice. At the same time, it’s far superior than not connecting at all. My encouragement to you is this: stand passionately patient.
Easter Plans & Beyond
This Sunday (April 5) is Palm Sunday. We will complete our Kingdom Lab series on the gospel. More than 3,000 people have viewed our Kingdom Labs over the past two weeks. I’ve heard of a number of you have shared a link for these Kingdom Lab videos with those you know who aren’t yet following Jesus. What an amazing way to spread the gospel! We will livestream our Good Friday service on April 10 (6-7pm) and our Easter services on April 12 (9am & 11am). I can’t wait for the recalibration of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection with you this year. My soul needs it. After Easter, we will restart our study of Acts. The elder’s vision for this year remains that we experience the Holy Spirit more. If ever there was a time for us to pursue this, it’s now. We will restart with Acts 8 on April 19.
Other Important Things
Besides programming direction, the elders have been working on a number other fronts, including monitoring finances. So far we’ve been able to continue to support all our missionaries, keep our staff working, and help several needy families in our congregation. Our staff have also made dramatic expense cuts. While I’m thinking about our staff, I want to commend them to you. They have shown great agility and creativity over the last two weeks. It’s been a crash course in doing ministry exclusively online. I am proud of them. Among other things, they are working on several new projects that we hope will keep us connected and engaged as a church after Easter. You might also be interested to know that half our staff are working from home, and we have a skeleton crew on-campus to coordinate things. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call me at the church office at 831-484-2141. I’d be happy to talk with you.
To summarize: thank you for being great, we’re going to keep everything online through April, look forward to Easter, and expect some new things afterwards!
Grace and peace,
Dear Cypress Family,
Last night the elders unanimously decided to temporarily postpone all Cypress ministries (on-campus and off-campus) until April 8. This includes all small groups. We also won’t be gathering at the church for prayer, but that shouldn’t stop us from praying. Instead, the staff and I are planning other ministries and opportunities for the next three weeks, including an online Sunday experience.
When we gathered last Sunday morning, recommendations were for gatherings of 250 or less, and we were in compliance. Sunday afternoon, though, that changed to 50. Monday it went to 10. Then yesterday, 45 minutes before the elders meeting, we all received Monterey County’s “shelter in place” order. Things have been changing quickly, and continue to change.
The elders and I are taking this virus seriously. We love you and those in our community. We want to comply with government recommendations and orders. Most importantly, we have a sense that God is going to use the coronavirus circumstances to deepen our relationship with him, to grow the church in Monterey County, and to save people’s souls. Let’s pray that people will be open to hearing about Jesus, for boldness to speak about him, and that people would be saved!
This Sunday we will livestream an alternate Sunday experience. This won’t be merely filming a regular worship service in an empty sanctuary. We’re also not going to keep going through the book of Acts over the next two Sundays either. (Ideally, I want to keep going through Acts when we can be together.) Instead, we’re going to livestream a more engaging-for-online worship experience. It’s going to be similar to our regular Sunday morning experience, but different. Carrie is going to sing. Garreth will giving us important announcements and updates, and I’m going to do a two-week Kingdom Lab on “The Gospel”.
We did the Kingdom Lab: The Gospel in February and received amazingly positive feedback. Those who attended, loved it and wanted to do it again. Those who weren’t able to attend, started asking immediately when we planned to do it again so they could engage with the material too. So that’s what we’re going to do! If ever there was a time to be crystal clear on the gospel, it’s now.
The Kingdom Lab will streamed Sunday morning at 10am. You can log in earlier so you don’t miss anything. You can access the livestream on our Cypress Church Facebook page or by going to the church website, www.cypresschurch.org, and clicking on the Kingdom Lab banner. As part of the church-wide Weekly email that will be sent out on Thursday, we will be attaching updated notes for the Kingdom Lab and kid’s coloring and activity pages to print out at home for Sunday morning.
We’ve got a number of other things in the works, but for now I need to send out this update.
Tune in this Sunday at 10am to hear about other ministry opportunities that are opening up for you to engage in during our “shelter in place”.
Several Sundays ago, when we studied Acts 4, we talked about how every danger presents us with an opportunity. I just want to remind you that we’ve been praying for revival at Cypress for over a year now, our vision for 2020 is to experience the Holy Spirit more, and today is Day 15 of our 40 Days of Prayer. God is doing something in the midst of all this, and it’s big. It’s big and it’s good. May we have eyes to see it and ears to hear his voice. It could be that this crisis is the catalyst for ushering in revival at Cypress, among our partner churches, and throughout Monterey County!
Grace and peace,
P.S. Our office staff is available for any questions. Please call 831-484-2141.
In light of coronavirus concerns, some people are considering not attending church this Sunday. If you are sick, please stay home. Otherwise, please come (Hebrews 10:25). We will worship Jesus in song and study Acts 7 together.