The following was posted November 19th, 2020
A message from Pastor Matt and our response to the new Provincial Health Order.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the new Provincial Health Orders announced today. Below is the update on how we’re responding as a church. In addition, I’ll be taking a few minutes on Sunday to address how we, as Elders, view these orders coming from health officials and why we’re choosing to continue following them as we seek to know Jesus and make Jesus known in Vancouver (and beyond)!
What are the new orders? As of November 19th:
- In-person indoor worship events and social gatherings of any size are suspended.
- Recording services and worship are essential for the faith community and are allowed to go ahead using appropriate Covid protocols. In fact, Minister Dix encouraged finding ways to bring these to an online setting.
- Dr. Henry made it clear that though she is shutting down events, she is not shutting down buildings.
- Essential meetings, like meetings that address addiction and give mental health support may continue in smaller groups when using appropriate Covid protocols.
- Outdoor activities that are not social gatherings and have appropriate Covid precautions can go ahead.
- These restrictions are in effect until December 7th at midnight and will be reviewed throughout this period to determine their effectiveness.
- These restrictions are province-wide.
Practically, what does this mean for us as a church?
- Sunday services will be moving back to a 10 a.m. live-stream service starting this Sunday, November 22nd, while this new order is in effect.
- There will be no in-person Sunday gatherings in the coming weeks, but as always we’ll keep you updated on any future changes as new information comes out.
- Prayer and Worship Nights will continue to be live-streamed, but we will take a break from gathering in-person for now, beginning tonight.
- Many ministries and meetings will be moving back online. However, essential meetings that address things addiction or mental health or that are able to be held outdoors will continue. Your ministry leaders in each area will reach out to you to update you on how each specific ministry is moving forward within the new restrictions.
What does this mean for you personally as a part of the church body?
- We want to encourage you to continue to gather with all of us, as a church family virtually and physically, with those in your household or core bubble. Take time and make space to prepare your heart to receive the word on Sundays, safely take communion, and pray for one another.
- Make use of technology (Zoom, Facetime, etc.) and have connection points with your community before and after services.
- We’d love for you to consider joining the Remote Help team, even for a time, as phone calls and connection with the church are essential.
- Use this as an opportunity to continue working on making spiritual disciplines a part of your regular rhythm. You can check out our Become series for a refresher on some of the spiritual disciplines we’d love to encourage you in.
- We’ll keep you updated on other ways you can engage in serving during this period of time, so stay tuned!
You are loved and prayed for every day. We know that this season has been incredibly difficult for many, but be encouraged, Jesus is still building his Church and His Spirit is still at work drawing the lost to himself. He offers us living water right now, today—He isn’t waiting for the pandemic to wrap up. His Church has never been shut down. He loves us and is being good to us right now.
As a church, we’ll continue to pursue knowing Jesus and making Jesus known no matter how the situation evolves during the pandemic. These words from David are close to my heart these days and I hope the truth in them will resonate with you, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:13-14).
We love you, church!
On Behalf of the Elders,
The following was posted November 6th, 2020
Hi church family,
Like many of you, we’ve been watching the increase in cases this month and wanted to let you know how today’s announcement from Dr. Henry will impact us as a church.
How will this impact Sunday in person gatherings?
Although Dr. Henry ordered a two-week hiatus on all social gatherings, she clarified in the Q&A section of the update that religious gatherings are NOT considered social gatherings. As a church, as long as we stick to our safety plan and comply with the existing Mass Gatherings Order (as we’ve been doing!) we are fully able to continue our Sunday gatherings!
We’ll be reviewing the most recent Mass Gatherings Order as well as WorksafeBC standards and will make sure we’re up to date in our response—but thanks to everyone’s diligence in doing things safely and wisely, we'll be able to gather safely in person as usual tomorrow.
Here is a quote of what Dr. Henry said in the Q & A: “[Churches] are not social gatherings. The 50-person limit with physical distancing and all of the important restrictions that have been in place around churches and other religious centres remain in place. I will again take this opportunity to send my thanks and gratitude to the many, many faith leaders around this province who have been supporting their communities and their congregants in doing this safely.”
You can also find a summary of the update here.
How will this impact mid-week and other events?
For other events like CG, use your best judgment. We’ve encouraged you to find a rhythm including both in-person and online meetings. This may be a good two weeks to do the online part of that rhythm. Please do your due diligence and make sure you are following the best practices we’ve been encouraging one another to maintain: stay home if you’re sick, keep physical distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask if you are close to others or singing.
We continue to hold that gathering is of deep spiritual importance, whether at home with your household, or at the Centre with others from the church family. If you know someone who isn’t able to gather with others right now, would you reach out to them to ask how they’re doing and pray together?
Churches are being shown a lot of favour with this exemption and that’s an answer to prayer! We don’t want to take it for granted. Let’s continue to be safe so that we can do more!
The following was posted September 16th, 2020
To help support Westside's in-person Sunday gatherings and ministries, let us know about your gifts and life/work experiences so we can guide you to the right team. You'll find information about all the teams you can join by clicking the button below!
The following was posted September 8th, 2020
RSVP for Sunday at The Centre and see updated information about our new zones.
Check out our live-stream service page.
Join a Community Group.
The following was posted July 24th, 2020
By now most of you probably know that the number of new cases in B.C. has been rising over the past week—meaning our curve isn’t flat anymore. The good news is that if we work together, we can bring it back down!
Our Provincial Health Officer clarified earlier this week that we are not moving back to Phase 1 or 2, but stressed that we need to be safer in order to keep moving forward. In light of the new numbers, we are making a couple of tweaks to our Phase 3 Response (the full response is posted below).
Westside, we need to obey the Word and submit to governing authorities. Right now that means being safe in how we gather, but it also means that as the government tries to move us forward in restarting the province, we try to move forward with them. That’s why we are adjusting the details in our push for safe small gatherings instead of cancelling the gatherings altogether. Be safe to do more!
Adjustments and clarifications to our Phase 3 response
- In light of the recent uptick in cases, we are capping registrations for each summer small gathering at six signups, and strongly encouraging that you meet outside. On a case-by-case basis, we may carefully increase the registration size for events in very large spaces or events with a lot of natural physical distancing (i.e., walking, running, or biking).
- We’re picking a conservative number that’s very clearly laid out in the province’s guidelines for Phase 3 small gatherings in order to create the safest possible environments together. As Dr. Henry says, “Fewer faces, bigger spaces.”
- This kind of self-regulation tells our city, “We care about you,” and sets us up to invite new people into these safe small gatherings.
- This means we need MORE small gathering hosts! Please consider signing up to host a safe small gathering.
- Small gatherings don’t need to be complicated—even sitting in camping chairs or on blankets in a park and chatting can be a deep relief for those who are living alone, working from home, or are otherwise feeling the weight of isolation.
- Thank you so much to those who have already signed up!
- We will work with each small gathering host to make sure they have a thorough safety plan and are prepared to keep their group accountable to the guidelines.
- We’re inviting feedback after each small gathering so that participants can easily let us know about any compliance concerns they might have.
- Remember that your bubble is a consistent small group of people who let each other into their 2m space, and commit to physically distancing from anyone who is NOT in their bubble.
- If you’d like to add people to your bubble, have a discussion with your bubble-mates—it’s their bubble, too!
- If you decide to join another bubble, you may need to go through a self-isolation period first, especially if your new bubble has vulnerable people in it.
- Hanging out with people from different bubbles without physically distancing connects all the bubbles you enter—please be very careful not to do this. Even if your friends are fine with you being close to them, chances are not everyone in their bubbles would be comfortable with that.
- Your bubble is a great group to watch the Sunday live-stream and hang out regularly with!
We’re confident we can provide some of the safest environments in the city during Phase 3. Here’s why:
- We are encouraging everyone to meet outside, in safe numbers.
- When you sign up for a small gathering, you are asked to review the key guidelines and commit to maintaining them.
- Small gathering hosts commit to helping everyone stay safe and make intentional plans for how they will achieve that.
- We have a registration system in place to allow for excellent contact tracing.
- We are ready to make rapid adjustments to move with the rest of the province if the situation calls for us to change Phases.
Remember, don’t leave anyone behind! Find those ways to intentionally love those in your community who won’t be able to gather in person due to their health, comfort-level with the pandemic, vocation, and so on.
The safer we are, the more we can do.
We know being diligent with the guidelines is extra work, but it’s worth it to be able to see one another in person, to create healthy environments for having fun, discipling each other, and for sharing the gospel—and to do all of that while keeping ourselves and our neighbours safe.
We want you to know that we are taking this seriously as a church. We’re working with medical and public health experts here at Westside and with the government to make sure that we have the right protocols in place—not because we are focused on COVID-19, but because we want to stay focused on Jesus and how to make Him known in our city. We don’t want the pandemic to distract us from that. Right now that means we need to follow government guidelines and love our neighbours by keeping our physical distance and washing our hands, and it means going the extra mile to find those ways to meet safely.
Your staff and elders love you dearly, and we are committed to caring for your spiritual and physical health to the best of our ability.
Be safe to do more,
The Westside Staff
The following was posted July 18th, 2020
Our province has entered Phase 3 of BC’s Restart Plan and this is the update on how we’re responding as a church. We’re excited to start taking advantage of the new opportunities we have to gather together in safe ways. Please know that our heart in this response plan is to stay united as the body of Christ, to actively love our city, and to act with wisdom—all to further our mission of Making Jesus Known.
The current situation
By the grace of God, the people of B.C. have made the sacrifices necessary to flatten our curve. Our efforts have been rewarded in the form of greater freedom to move around and gather in small groups. In recent days, however, we’ve seen the number of daily new cases rise slightly—and many are understandably concerned about this.
We learned from our recent survey that there is a wide range of opinions within the body of Westside about how we should respond to COVID-19. Here’s what we heard from you:
- Isolation is having a serious negative impact on many of us, and we can’t wait to see each other again in person.
- The concerns about new COVID-19 outbreaks are legitimate, and the restrictions from our government are in place to help us.
In light of this, we want to create a plan that will serve the body in a way that provides a place for community and connection, and takes both what we’ve heard from you and our governing authorities into account.
The church is meant to gather in person, and meeting together is critical for our spiritual formation (Hebrews 10:24-25). Especially as Phase 3 now relaxes some restrictions, it’s good and right that we would make wise plans about how to meet again. As we make these plans, please know that we intend to be safe, defer to our medical experts, and submit to the governing authorities the Lord has placed over us (Romans 13:1-2).
We recognize that with so many different opinions and comfort levels, there won’t be a plan that will completely satisfy everyone. In order for this to work, we need to rely completely on the Lord to give us grace for one another and self-sacrificial consideration of each other’s conscience and wellbeing.
The safer we are, the more we can do. Our older members, the immunocompromised, and the caregivers among us will be more able to participate if we are safe. The city around us will be open to invitations to join us if we are safe. On the flip side, doing more without taking the necessary precautions only puts us at risk of spreading the virus, getting our events shut down, and ultimately doing much less in our city to Make Jesus Known.
So our plan is this:
- Clarify what sorts of small gatherings we can hold safely, according to our medical experts and governing authorities.
- Provide recommendations and resources to help you know how to host and attend small gathering events safely and as you feel comfortable.
- Collect feedback as we go so we can make adjustments to our plan as needed.
- Stay flexible so that we are ready in case the province has to return to more rigid restrictions for our safety.
We know some of you are deeply concerned about the virus, and that not everyone will be ready to do more right away. That’s ok! This is not to pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. Our intention is to introduce a framework that will help us to create many more safe social events in the city.
What ARE we permitted to do?
There are quite a few things we can safely do together! The following graphic from the B.C. government is a good starting point as we consider how to bring people together in a safe way.
General safety guidelines
Anytime you meet with others from outside your immediate household, continue to honour the guidelines set by our government:
- Keep your group size appropriate. Keep to a maximum of six people outside your bubble for indoor events, and a maximum of 50 people for outdoor gatherings.
- Keep 2 metres of physical distance from those who are outside your bubble and limit your time together.
- Help everyone remember to wash or sanitize their hands often.
- If you are in an enclosed space or cannot physically distance, consider wearing a mask.
- Keep your meeting space clean and disinfected.
- Stay home and away from others if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, or even if you’re simply not feeling well
- Take extra precautions for those at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, including older people and those with chronic health conditions.
You can gather with those in your bubble with very few restrictions.
- You can already begin to gather with your bubble to participate in the Sunday live-stream, Prayer & Worship Nights, and other corporate events together this way.
- Why not worship, have brunch, discuss the sermon, and enjoy your Sunday morning together?
You can meet with a small gathering including those outside of your bubble outdoors or in a space large enough to physically distance.
- We encourage our Community Groups to plan safe ways to meet outside as a whole group.
- We encourage you to sign up to host a safe, small gathering.
You can meet indoors with up to six people outside of your bubble.
- Stick to all the usual safety precautions: physical distancing, handwashing, wearing a mask if you can’t be far enough apart, etc.
You can do outdoor recreational activities.
- We have built a process that Staff, Westside Outdoors & anyone in the body can use to set up small events and get us started —if you want to help organize and host an event, you can apply here.
- Guidelines will be made available to help organizers host safely.
You can still meet online, and it may be important for some in your group to keep doing this.
- The reality is that we have many in our body who can’t expose themselves to COVID-19 without significant risk to themselves. Let’s not leave them behind by abandoning all our virtual forms of meeting.
- If you’re a Community Group Leader, consider incorporating in-person and virtual methods of meeting in some kind of rotation. That way the greatest number of people in your CG will be able to stay connected with the rest of the group.
When can we go back to full gatherings at the Centre?
We probably won’t be back to normal for quite a while. Our health authorities have made it very clear that mass gatherings will be limited to 50 participants until we hit Phase 4. It would be realistic to prepare ourselves to expect this to be the new normal for some months to come.
In the meantime, we’re seeking approval from the government to set up other areas of our building like The Auditorium and The Commons to host safe gatherings of up to 50 people. The hope is that having more space available at The Centre will serve those who don’t have enough space to gather with others in their homes. We are still working out the details of what this will look like, so we ask for your patience as we solidify our plans and procedures.
We’ll update you as things change, but for now, let’s focus on the safe ways of gathering we already have.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” - Acts 4:32-33
Your patio, your backyard, the park near your place, your ability to organize an event or inspire others, your creativity in finding safe ways to meet, your gifts for creating fun or encouraging others—what if all of these are resources God is intending to use in the coming weeks to bless the Church and reach our city for Christ? What if God is using the current restrictions to sharpen us? To activate us? To show us how He wants to Make Jesus Known in 2020?
“Leadership does not begin with title or position, it begins the moment you are more concerned about others’ flourishing than your own.” - Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak
To Make Jesus Known in this new normal, we will need your leadership. How might you help lead your community to:
- Come together in safe ways?
- Love their neighbour as themselves?
- Show compassion to those that cannot gather safely?
If you think of a way to gather community together within BC’s guidelines, let us help you get the word out by registering your event.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach out to us at email@example.com.
We’re praying for you, Westside, and we love you very much.
Be safe to do more,
The Westside Staff
The following was posted June 27th, 2020
The following was posted March 30th, 2020
By now we’ve all got a growing sense of how intentional we need to be to stay connected with each other. Getting used to new ways of sharing life and encouraging each other is taking genuine effort! What’s amazing is that despite the extra hurdles, we’ve been hearing from many of you that you are feeling more connected to each other than ever, and more excited to be the church together, too. Praise God!
We’re continuing to watch the COVID-19 situation closely and it’s important to us that we continue to respond to the reality we’re facing as a city and province in a loving way. That means staying current and following orders and recommendations from experts.
Everyone on the staff team who is able to work remotely is now working from home, and anyone who must self-isolate for whatever reason is doing so dutifully. We've been working diligently on bringing the core parts of our community and ministry online, so that we can help everyone take physical distancing seriously and stay home as much as possible.
Even now, we aren’t afraid of either the illness, or the crisis. But it’s helpful to remember what the Lord says to the prophet Jonah: “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Can we share our Lord’s compassion for our city?
Some Prayer Requests
- Please continue to pray for our leaders, as we’re urged to in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Pray for our provincial and federal leaders. Join in interceding for them, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
- Also a big reminder to continue to pray for the healthcare workers who are already ramping up their hours and may be pushed to their limits in the coming days, for those who are sick and the isolated, and for those wrestling with anxiety.
Remote Help Ministry
We’ve hinted at it, you’ve been excited about it, and it’s finally rolling out! The Remote Help Ministry is beginning its first shifts this week, calling those in our body to check in and see how they're doing, and delivering groceries for those who are unable to leave home. If you've given Westside your phone number before, you may receive one of these check-in calls from the Remote Help Ministry sometime in the next few weeks!
If you've been affected by COVID-19 and have a need you'd like the Remote Help Ministry to know about, you can let us know via the form at wchurch.ca/support.
If you'd like to join this team, you can sign up at wchurch.ca/respond.
Online Community Groups
Spring Break is now over, and that means Community Groups are back! In light of COVID-19, all of our Community Groups are taking their gatherings online.
If you’re not yet in a Community Group, we encourage you to join one! Community is a vital part of the church—especially in a time where we can't gather together physically. It’s where we care for and disciple one another!
Live-stream Prayer and Worship Nights
We’ll now be having Live-stream Prayer and Worship Nights every other week! The next one is on April 2nd at 7 p.m. We’re so looking forward to more nights like these, where we come before the Lord, as a church, and seek Him in prayer and worship together.
Fasting as a Church
Matthew 6:16a: "And when you fast..."
This Wednesday, April 1st we're beginning a season of fasting together as a body and in conjunction with several other churches in our city. Fasting is abstaining from food (for a set amount of time) for a spiritual purpose and it's a beautiful and revealing way for us to humble ourselves before God and ask Him to search us. Fasting is a spiritual practice Jesus assumed we, His followers, would give ourselves to (Matthew 6:16a; 9:15). And in this very unique season we have great reason to fast.
From now until this season of pandemic is resolved we're inviting you to join us in some form of a fast (full or partial) every Wednesday for the purpose of humbling ourselves before God and asking Him to fulfill all His purposes for us, our city, and our world in this time of uncertainty. This is not about asking Jesus to do what we would like Him to or what we think is best. This is about surrendering our lives to Him as an act of love and trust. Fasting isn't about abstinence from food as much as it's about feasting on God!
This is an invitation to practically place yourself before Jesus to taste and see that He is the satisfaction we crave, especially now. And we want to come alongside you with practical helps and tips as you do. We'll be adding resources on spiritual disciplines in the coming weeks to wchurch.ca/BecomePracticum and Melissa and I will be on Instagram Live on Tuesday, March 31st at 3:00 p.m. to answer any questions you may have about fasting.
Here's a good article for those new to fasting.
Love you Westside—praying for you.
— Pastor Matt
Wednesday Morning Prayer Online
We believe that prayer is absolutely essential. You’re invited to join in online for a time of prayer on Wednesday mornings before you begin your day. We'll go before the Lord together with prayer requests from our church body, prayers for our communities, and prayers for the world. We'll be meeting from 7-8 a.m. weekly.
THIS WEEK ON INSTAGRAM LIVE (Mar 30 - Apr 5)
Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
The Westside Worship Team
Start your morning with worshipand a little fun too!
Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.
Pastor Matt & Melissa Menzel
Let’s talk about what it means tofast together as a church.
Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Kids Associate Natasha Belonio
Natt will be reading The Friend Who Forgives. Make sure to tune in with your kids!
Friday at 10:00 a.m.
Michelle Holland & Melissa Menzel
How can we engage with prayer in this season? Come talk to Michelle and Melissa about it!
See you online at 10 a.m. this Sunday at the live-stream service! Feel free to say hi in the live chat on YouTube.
The following was posted March 17th, 2020
We’ve been so blessed by all the stories and photos we saw from the Live-stream Gatherings on Sunday. It was incredible to see how you've adjusted in this season and to see people from all around the world joining us for the online gathering.
As of yesterday, our government has capped gatherings at 50 people. They have also recommended that we practice social distancing, and for people to stay at home as much as possible. We’ve decided that, as a church, the best way for us to be good citizens and neighbours is to help “flatten the curve” in every way we can. Please read on for how we can all work on this together.
As we’ve said before, we aren’t acting out of fear of getting sick. Instead, we see this as an opportunity to model the way of Jesus as we adjust our regular rhythms for the sake of the most vulnerable among us. This may come with loneliness and other griefs—but aren’t these just a few of the things Jesus bore for us? What a beautiful chance we have to reflect Him just a little by following in His footsteps.
Community Groups & Live-stream Gatherings
This is a tough one for us, but we are encouraging you to take all your meetings, including CGs and other gatherings online until further notice. We will miss meeting together in person more than ever in this difficult season, but we know that Jesus will be as present as ever in our lives. And...
Community Groups are not cancelled—they’re just online! In a time when we need each other more than ever, we must care for each other more than ever. We must be more prayerful, intentional, and creative than ever. And most of all, we must rely on Jesus more than ever. John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Over the next few weeks we’ll be providing more resources to help us connect with one another, especially for those with barriers to accessing online resources.
How to gather online well
It’s part of our usual rhythm to take a two-week Spring Break as CGs—which is actually right now! So this is a good time for us to work out how to meet online, since it looks like that might be necessary for the next little while. We’ll have more resources for you after those two weeks are up, but in the meantime, here are some pointers on how to have a fruitful online connection with others.
Communicate clearly with your group. Here are some things to consider:
- What time will you be meeting?
- What software will you use to meet?
- Who needs help to participate, and how will you support them?
- Send out an invitation to your group call shortly before your meeting starts.
- Give your group some material to look at in advance, like the Post-Sunday Content questions. This will help everyone come with more to say.
- Ask for feedback from everyone in the group about how online meeting is or isn't working for them.
Use a reliable app for group calls. These are our recommendations (click for setup instructions):
Be intentional. Your CG Leaders will help to disciple you in this.
Give each person who is speaking your full attention.
Give everyone an opportunity to speak; limit yourself to a minute or so.
If you choose to meet in-person for any reason
Please maintain all of the following best practices.
- Find a way to give each other the appropriate personal space. Six feet between each person is recommended by health officials. If you and your neighbour outstretch your arms, your fingertips should not quite touch. (This includes in front and behind you.)
- If you do choose to meet in-person, try to meet outside or somewhere there is good airflow. Open windows and such.
- If you are hosting, sanitize all hard surfaces and commonly touched items, like doorknobs, faucets, buttons, light switches, microwave and oven buttons, and so on. Do this before guests arrive, and after they leave.
- Have all guests thoroughly wash their hands when they arrive, for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing should be encouraged.
- Avoid contact greetings like handshakes, high-fives, hugs, etc. (Use the elbow bump!)
- If you feel ill in any way, please stay home! If you are hosting a group and feel ill, have the group meet elsewhere. (Please don't decide it's just a cold)
- If you plan to share a meal, minimize your transmission risk by washing hands and making sure people aren’t all touching the same objects or foods.
- If you are hosting more than 10 people and you know your space will be crowded, raise up another gathering host from within your group so you can keep good social distancing.
- If anyone shows signs of illness or isn’t feeling well, lovingly send them home right away.
- If you are wondering whether you should be tested or not, please see the province’s online self-assessment: https://covid19.thrive.health/
We’re told to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), but in times like these we really feel our deep need for constant prayer. The world is being shaken in a unique way—and our mighty God is sovereign over all of it. Let’s be humbled by this, and go to Him often.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be equipping you with more teaching and interactive online spaces for prayer, but a good starting place would be to pray for our leaders, as we’re urged to in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Our provincial and federal leaders are making huge decisions under enormous pressure. Would you join in interceding for them, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”?
Let’s also remember to pray for the healthcare workers who are already ramping up their hours and may be pushed to their limits in the coming days, for those who are sick and the isolated, and for those wrestling with anxiety.
Live-stream Prayer & Worship Night
We’d planned to have our Prayer & Worship Night this Thursday, March 19—but, instead of cancelling, we’ll be moving this to an online live-stream so that we can gather virtually to pray and worship together.
We’re asking Jesus for a renewal of His Church in this time of crisis. So please join us via live-stream as we pray for the world, the city, and for one another. Our Minister of Worship, Marc Willerton, will be leading us through a simple acoustic worship set, and Pastor Matt will be leading us in prayer throughout the evening. You’ll also have the opportunity to share encouragement or words that you feel the Lord is giving to the body. There will be more info on how we’ll be doing this at wchurch.ca/worship. We’ll have chord charts available before Thursday night so you can download them and follow along with your own instruments at home (if you like). More information and a link to the live-stream will be provided at wchurch.ca/worship.
Westside Kids Resources
Beginning this Sunday, we will have resources tailored for kids to use during the online gathering! We’ll send out those resources and provide ongoing access to discipleship material for parents in future communications.
Because of the recent guidelines around social distancing, we have made the decision to cancel Monday Night Youth gatherings at Westside Church for the time being. This does not mean that Youth gatherings are cancelled altogether. We are currently working on digital resources to help youth and leaders stay connected with one another. Once we have more details on what this will look like, we will let you know. Youth can look out for communication from their leaders with further information.
Encouragement & More Info
All this change has many of us asking a very important question: “What does the church look like without everyone being able to meet in-person?”
For nearly 15 years, you’ve been learning what it means to be Jesus’ people. God’s Word has shaped you, and you know what it means to build your life on the Rock and not on the shifting sand of your present circumstances, anxieties, or ambitions. You know how to live in community—sharing deeply, confessing sin, encouraging the faint-hearted, asking for help and forgiveness. You know how to pray for one another, putting one another before yourselves and reminding one another of the hope we have in Jesus. And more than anything, the Holy Spirit lives in us, the people of God (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Cor 6:16). We may not know all that lies ahead, but we have no doubt whatsoever that the Church belongs to Jesus, and His work of building us will not fail! (Matt 16:18)
Where we’re headed
The Westside Staff are working hard to help us stay meaningfully connected during this season. Every week, we’ll be rolling out new ways of connecting with one another and new resources to help you be the church in the city. We’re also working to make sure those who want to serve and contribute somehow will have active ways to stay involved, even from home. We will share more on that as those resources are developed. We appreciate your patience and grace as we work through these changes.
The following was posted March 13th, 2020
If you haven’t already heard, our Provincial Health officer has asked everyone in British Columbia to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people. In response, we will not be meeting together at the Centre for our Sunday morning gatherings for the time being. But church IS NOT cancelled.
We know the church isn’t a building—it’s a people: Jesus’ people, following Him together. By giving up our usual way of gathering for a time we have a unique opportunity to be good citizens of our city and help protect the most vulnerable among us!
This is a truly unique moment globally and we believe that Jesus has a plan. So here’s the call: Instead of our usual Sunday gathering, we’ll be providing a live stream of the regular gathering content on Sunday at 10 a.m. Since small group meetings are still considered low-risk for spreading illness we’re going to gather together in homes to worship, pray, hear the Word of God preached, take communion together, and continue to give as an act of worship. This is such a great opportunity to open our homes, lives, and share a meal as we seek Jesus together. (Please see our suggested best practices for small gatherings below.)
Live Stream Details
- The online gathering will start at 10AM on Sunday. We’ll have the resources you need available for you, including a link to the stream, at wchurch.ca/live.
- The sermons will be posted online by Monday, as usual.
- We’re working on ways to get more people hosting live stream gatherings. But for this Sunday, if you aren’t already in a Community Group, request to join one at wchurch.ca/CGs.
Small Gathering Best Practices
Gathering in small groups is considered low-risk at this time, but we strongly encourage you to follow all guidelines from public health officials.
- If you are hosting, sanitize all hard surfaces and commonly touched items, like doorknobs, faucets, buttons, light switches, and so on. Do this before guests arrive, and after they leave.
- Have all guests thoroughly wash their hands when they arrive, for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing should be encouraged.
- Avoid contact greetings like handshakes, high-fives, hugs, etc.
- If you feel ill in any way, please stay home! If you are hosting a group and feel ill, have the group meet elsewhere.
- If you plan to share a meal, minimize your transmission risk by washing hands and making sure people aren’t all touching the same objects or foods.
- If you take communion together, don’t dip the bread into a common cup of juice. Pour a bit of wine or juice into clean, separate cups, and have one sanitized person cut up bread and distribute it. Limit touch as much as possible.
If you must self-quarantine, we want to provide resources and practical assistance, as we are able, and have the body praying for you, so please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all other classes, groups, and ministries, stay tuned. We’ll be posting more updates on how we plan to continue with those, either online, or in well-planned smaller groups.
This is an important time in our city, around the world, and for what Jesus is doing in His Church. With nothing to fear we get to be the non-anxious presence in our city. So lean in and engage: Plan your Sunday-morning gatherings, check in on each other, use social media and other channels to stay in touch, and take every chance you get to pray together. Ask Jesus to use us as lights in this city. We may find people more hungry for eternal hope than they’ve ever been!
We’ll continue to modify our response and update you as the situation evolves. To receive our latest updates, check back here or keep your eye on our social media pages.