We have just completed week seven of BC’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. At the two-month mark, some are asking us questions; why are we live and on-demand in the format we are in for Sunday services? When will restrictions change? What will May look like as provincial restrictions loosen? These are excellent questions, let me try and answer them.
From the beginning we have had two priorities: following provincial guidelines and helping CLA connect to something familiar. When the provincial government signaled a reduction of gathering numbers to 50, CLA responded immediately to shut down our Sunday Gatherings in Sooke, Maple Ridge, Recovery Church and Langley. In Langley it included Revolution Youth, Thursday Young Adults, and both men and women’s weekly gatherings. At first, some of our Life Groups continued but as provincial authorities encouraged people to stay home, people became less comfortable gathering and most groups became virtual. We continued to facilitate weddings and funerals to our best ability. Langley Campus remained opened due to our Day Care being deemed an essential service, and our financial cutbacks reduced our staff to about half—so few were working in the building (maybe a dozen). As people worked both on campus and at home, we worked hard to reduce the number of people involved in the Sunday Live experience. Pastor Laura reduced the worship team, only those comfortable being there were involved in the tech side, and we were well below the provincial requirement. In addition, we implemented social distancing and new cleaning regiments. Our goal was to be authentically CLA. We would provide a worship experience guided by the Spirit, prayer and the Word in a one-hour live format at 9 AM, and people could live stream on-demand anytime throughout the week. Our analytics showed us that about 1,600 devices would connect (representing between 2,000–4,000 people). Some for a few minutes, many for 20 minutes, and some for the whole hour. The feedback has been very positive. People are happy with the balance that we’ve tried to find in a very difficult environment.
This week, most Canadian provinces (remember, health care is a provincial jurisdiction) have released their plans to restart the economy and reduce restrictions. In BC we have certainly “flattened the curve” but there have been no signs of any change to the 50 people or less gathering number. Some businesses will open, some schools may resume, and Sunbeam Preschool may be called back. Currently we expect our online experience to remain as is till the end of June. When restrictions loosen up, we will likely see that in our smaller gatherings first; Sooke, Rev, Kids Camp or Recovery Church.
Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer, in connecting online and in staying consistent in giving. We have had thousands connect to “Ask Derrick Anything” on Facebook in April. We are trying to keep all lines of communication open. I appreciate your flexibility and understanding. We can't wait for the day we can gather corporately again, but in the meantime, let's continue to pursue connection virtually and engage in worship genuinely. I'm so glad that God will never 'social distance' from us!