Church Updates

COVID-19 Response

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!

COVID-19 Update

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

  1. 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.”
  2. 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. 

  1. Communicate clearly with your group. Here are some things to consider:

    1. What time will you be meeting? 
    2. What software will you use to meet?
    3. Who needs help to participate, and how will you support them?
    4. Send out an invitation to your group call shortly before your meeting starts.  
    5. 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.
    6. Ask for feedback from everyone in the group about how online meeting is or isn't working for them.
  2. Use a reliable app for group calls. These are our recommendations (click for setup instructions):

    1. Google Hangouts
      1.     Requires a Gmail account, which can be set up for free here.

    2. Facebook Messenger

      1.     Requires a Facebook account, which can be set up for free here.

  3. Be intentional. Your CG Leaders will help to disciple you in this.

    1. Give each person who is speaking your full attention.

    2. 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/

Prayer

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.

Westside Youth

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 office@wchurch.ca.

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.


Resources:

Westside Live Stream Page: wchurch.ca/live
Westside COVID-19 Response Plan Updates: wchurch.ca/COVID19

PHAC:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Fraser Health FAQs:

https://www.fraserhealth.ca/health-topics-a-to-z/coronavirus/coronavirus-questions-general-public#.XmgrMVNKjUJ

BCDC COVID-19 Info:

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)#Information--about--the--virus