Update 5/21/20 11:00 AM
(Updated Thursday, 5/21/20 11:00 AM)
One day soon we will reopen the doors of our worship centers at Pathway Church, gather together, sing praises to His name, open the Word of God together, and return to our normal sense of church.
I can’t wait for that day.
I don’t think I’ll be able to contain either my joy or my tears.
In the meantime, we continue to do everything we can to be the church, and to press into God and His Word.
We are receiving messages from both those who are eager to reopen, and those who want us to be cautious. We hear you.
We understand very well that there is a clash of values.
On one hand, we believe in the First Amendment, and the sovereign freedom of the church to be the church. On the other hand, Romans 13 is very clear that we are to respect governmental authorities.
Both of these important values are in tension. Here’s where we stand.
At this point Pathway Church will continue to host Drive-in services, online services, and a massive range of online ministries:
- Bible classes
- Theology class
- Life groups
- Celebrate Recovery
- Divorce Care
- Hebrew lessons
- Youth and Young Adult groups
- Children’s ministries
- Exercise videos, and…
- A host of other opportunities. (online community)
In addition, I’m incredibly proud of our church for outreaches like drive-by prayer tagging, Financial Peace University, activity pack deliveries for kids with special needs, Grace Pathway Classes, Care Coaching, grocery & pharmacy delivery for shut ins, prayer meetings, worship meetings, and on and on.
We are ACTIVE. We have not shut down! We are not forsaking the assembling of the saints.
Virtual ministry counts for eternity. Do you realize that St. Paul impacted immeasurably more people by his virtual ministry (his epistles) than he ever did face to face?
We may not be gathering as normal, but we are still helping people find and follow God.
We are factoring in the following elements.
- Pathway Church is a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. Our denomination has asked us, at both a national level and a district level, to continue to abide by government policy with regard to closures. We intend to cooperate with our denomination. (More info here)
- We understand that our local county board is working to accelerate the process of reopening in our community. We feel it is important not to do anything that could jeopardize those possibilities. We don’t want to do anything that would keep other businesses from being able to open ahead of the schedule set by Sacramento and Governor Newsom.
- We fully recognize that there may be a time when we must defy governmental authorities. We are ready and willing to do that when the time comes. After prayerful consideration, our Board and I agree that this is not yet the time.
- A significant population within our church is elderly or immunocompromised, and we don’t want to do anything to put them at risk.
- We do not want to expose our church to needless and costly litigation.
- We have a very large church, and there is never a weekend or an event where we can fit all of the people who come to our church in one service. This applies both to our seating space, and our parking lot. This is why we offer multiple services.
Our size presents some complexities that we have to work through as we reopen. For example, do you know that every weekend, it takes over 200 volunteers to make our church function? This includes ushers, greeters, and above all else, children’s ministry and youth workers. These workers need to be remobilized and retrained before we can safely reopen. All of these logistics need to be sorted out. We are already doing this, but it will take some time.
Furthermore, our congregation needs to be in some way divvied up so that we do not overwhelm our safe capacities at any one service.On top of all this, when we do reopen, we will be conducting services with little kids in services, which will radically alter the nature of our services, especially during my preaching.Bottom line: There are complexities in a larger church that simply do not exist in a smaller church. We are diligently strategizing through these complexities.
- We do not intend to use our worship services as a tool to make political statements. When churches were first asked to stop meeting, I angrily resisted the idea. I was ready to meet and to accept any consequences. But the more I studied the situation, the more I conferred with our leadership, with other churches, and with community officials, the more I realized it was time to hit PAUSE on the gatherings of our ministry. We instead focused our energies on moving online in a big way. We have had leaders across the country amazed at what we’ve accomplished online. Even so, I remain a First Amendment person. I am pro-freedom, and pro-church.
Yes, there comes a time when we ought to obey God rather than men. In the early church Christians walked a fine line between obedience to government and civil disobedience.
They met in caves, they met in secluded groves, and they met in homes. The great thing is we currently (or soon will) have all of those abilities!
Please pray for wisdom as we navigate these uncertain waters. Pray for the right blend of patience and courage.
Most importantly, instead of being upset about what we don’t have, why not go all in with what we do have! Online worship, online preaching, drive-in worship, and our incredible Life Together Community — it’s all there for you!
No one is more eager to regather than the leaders of Pathway Church.
Stand with us. And please continue to support our mission through your service, your prayers, and your giving.
In His Matchless Grace,
Bill Giovannetti, Senior Pastor
Todd Skinner, Executive Pastor
Gordon Flinn (Board Member)
Charlie Kennedy (Board Member)
Jim Gibson (Board Member)
Mike Dormer (Board Member)
Tom Frantz (Board Member)
P.S. If you would like to join our online community, Life Together, please click here.
P.P.S. To give to our ministries click give.
Update 3/16/20 5:00 PM
- Our weekend worship services have moved FULLY ONLINE.
- You can download our Coronavirus Prayer Guide here. CLICK HERE
- Our weekday gatherings are put ON HOLD, as we scramble to to put as much of our ministry online as possible. STAY TUNED!
- No youth, children’s, or adult events will occur on campus.
- If you need prayer, please visit our ONLINE PRAYER WALL. The prayer requests are sent to our staff and prayer team. CLICK HERE
- Wash your hands and stay safe.
- Join us next weekend for our ONLINE WORSHIP SERVICES! And share the good news with your friends and neighbors by inviting them to join us too!
Update 3/13/20 11:00 AM
(Updated Friday, 3/13/20 11:00 AM)
Dear Pathway Church Family,
You may have heard about a little virus called coronavirus. You may have also heard that it is spreading like wildfire — something we know all too well.
I can’t recall the last time I have agonized over a decision as much as this one. Should we cancel our in-person services this weekend and do everything online or not?
I feel that, while the fear makes sense, a lot of it is manufactured, and that a fair degree of the current panic is almost irrational — just take a look at the toilet-paper aisles.
The early church still gathered, even tough there were thugs waiting to put them to death if they were found out. As A. W. Tozer said, “A scared world needs a fearless church!”
At the same time, a scared world needs a wise and discerning church. Wisdom is telling me that this virus spreads through social contact, and that our leaders are asking us to reduce that. Wisdom also tells me that older adults are especially vulnerable, and that any age can spread the virus.
Wisdom also tells me that the infrastructure and volunteer corps we need to conduct our weekend schedule is larger and more complex than most people realize, and that too many unforeseen difficulties can arise.
It isn’t fear, for me. It’s wisdom.
So, with a knot in my stomach, — and honestly with a measure of anger over the devil’s disruption of our lives — I am making the call for this weekend only, March 14-15, 2020, to offer our weekend worship services online only.
I am also issuing a CALL TO PRAYER… please download our prayer guide. I’m asking you to use this daily in your personal prayer.
I am asking you to go to church online, worship online, and give online this weekend… and to kick the devil in the teeth over this thing, and join us online for our Worship Gathering with Pastor Bill, Pastor Ken, and Pastor Tim to praise our God.
Many of you faithfully give, for which we are so appreciative. Because we will not be gathering this weekend, we’d like to encourage you to give online.
This is a fantastic time to invite others to tune in for a message of hope in these uncertain times. Just as the early church met in caves and sheltered places, today we can meet online. Let’s do it!
As we evaluate which ministries should continue, and which should take a break, we are asking you to CHECK OUR WEBSITE and SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES frequently for the latest updates.
We will also continue to email you updates. We’re in a situation none of us has been in before and things are changing day by day.
Have you seen the movie Apollo 13? At one point there is an incident where the flight director overhears two NASA directors discussing the low survival chances for the crippled spacecraft. One of them says, “This could be the worst disaster NASA has ever experienced.”
The flight director responds, “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.”
I’m praying the same will be true for every believer in Jesus as we reflect his love and compassion to those around us.
Because, yes, “A scared world needs a fearless church.”
So this is not about cancelling church, or wimping out, or having a church holiday. It’s about being wise as serpents and staying on mission even as the Giant Pain Machine of our fallen world spits and fumes.
The Lord is not surprised by any of these events; let’s join him in helping people find and follow God.
In His Matchless Grace,
Dr. Bill Giovannetti