May 2020 COViD-19 "Re-Opening" updates


On this page the pastoral team  will share what we are learning and what our trajectory will be going forward.


During the first days of the crisis, Lead Pastor Isaac met with the staff to begin planning to take our services and ministries online. He also created a New Hope COViD-19 Task Force. This team consists of individuals who represent various sectors of society: Educators, Law Enforcement officers, Business professionals, medical personnel, Pastors and Social workers. He asked for their updates and input at various intervals throughout these past 9 weeks. Their perspectives have proved to be invaluable to Isaac and to the Church Council as we adjust to the new normal. 

Isaac also asked our pastoral team to join him in prayer and fasting. You see, we are not only a Non-Profit Organization that needs to plan for this unprecedented disruption. We are a spiritual body of believers that is being led by the Holy Spirit for the mission that has always been ours: Helping People Find and Follow Jesus. 

In addition, Lead Pastor Isaac has been in conversation with our Foursquare District Leadership. They have been very helpful and have clearly communicated an expectation that all Foursquare Churches remain in compliance with the restrictions guidelines that are in effect right now. 

Because Jesus, by His Spirit, is leading us forward, all challenges we face together are not only surmountable, but full of opportunities for us to be strengthened. No circumstance deters us from our mission to help people find and follow Jesus. 

In response to this crisis, we turned our attention to 1 Peter. Peter’s words have guided us. Let us remind you of what Peter has said and what is happening among us:

1 Peter 1:6–7 (NLT)

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

God cares so much about his mission to seek and save the lost that he will use a difficulty like this to deepen our faith. Let me assure you—as uncomfortable and frustrating as it is, our faith is being refined. In what may seem like loss, we have been given the great gift of transformation. 

As Jesus followers, we are asked to see this season with spiritual eyes, not just with our physical eyes, but to discern the world as it really is, an epic stage upon which the war between good and evil is being waged. Our great adversary is still seeking to destroy us. Although He cannot stop God’s great plan to reconcile the world to himself, he can create confusion and division. He can destroy the unity of the church, if we get distracted from trusting and following God. 

We, the pastoral team have been seeking to look at this season with Spiritual eyes. Here are SIX touchpoints that we have discerned as a group.

God is reminding us that the weekly large gathering of the church, is not itself THE church. 

The church lives when you and I remain committed to one another through Jesus Christ.

We look forward to the day when we can freely gather for worship, prayer and connection. The pastoral team was reminded last week of Revelation 19 which talks about the gathering of worship in heaven. When we worship together, we are participating with the epic worship that’s happening in heaven. Listen to what the Bible says about this worship of heaven:

Revelation 19:6 (NLT)

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

But, in this season of not being able to worship together in person, we are still the church. AND, God still reigns! Of course we look forward to gathering again, but our BEING the church is not contingent upon our large gatherings. We WILL be back worshipping together in person. But God's grace still allows us to BE the Church, even while we can't MEET as a Church.

God asks us to fast from good things

for the sake of something deeper he wants to do.

We have begun to see that the mandates that prevent us from gathering are an opportunity for us to fast from the good thing of meeting together on Sundays. Similarly, Jesus’ followers are asked to fast from food, which is obviously good, so that something deeper in prayer and spiritual connection can happen. 

With spiritual eyes, we are seeing this disruption differently. And, that is helping us to respond to the various restrictions that have been imposed upon us. In a way, God is giving us an opportunity to fast from what is so good so that his deeper work can happen in us.

The Kingdom of God must begin in our homes.

In this season, we are being forced to center our lives around the home once again. We understand that each home and family are different. Many of our young adults have found themselves sequestered with their roommates.. There are single moms, families with kids in the home, single adults home alone and everything in between. Many of us are navigating the steep learning curve of balancing work while schooling our children and some have lost their jobs. . Others are far beyond the hustle and bustle of raising a family.Each home is unique with particular challenges and personalities and ways of dealing with this current crisis. 

Regardless, we believe we have each been given a tremendous opportunity to practice the way of Jesus in our homes. We have been given a gift: to prioritize rhythms and liturgies in our homes that will help us deepen in faith, hope and love as all disciples are called to do. The Holy Spirit is urging us to continue to make our homes places of blessing, peace and wholeness. In a culture that loves big crowds and big stages, it will always be tempting to overemphasize the large group gathering the seemingly insignificant learning that takes place in the home. . This season of emphasis on our homes prepares us for a healthy balance of vibrant corporate gatherings in combination with revitalized spiritual rhythms at home.

Let’s not miss out on what God is up to and what he wants to do in our homes, families, and marriages during this season which might actually be an unexpected gift. Let’s be those who fully receive and make ourselves available to be reformed and reoriented rather than just wishing things would just get back to normal. God is at work!

The world has changed in an instant, but our understanding of the changes will be slow. 

Most of us knew within a few hours of the global shutdown that life would change dramatically. We began to speculate about how life would be after this. But, the reality is—this is a slow motion somersault into the next era of human life.  It has been described as the beginning of an Ice Age as opposed to just hunkering down to survive a blizzard. This isn’t a series of snow days that we endure before going back to normal. Rather, the global events that are transpiring now are changing the future. We have to think and pray and plan this way.

There are initial realities that we are facing. Some have lost income or jobs. Likely, our economy will continue to shift and lean times may be ahead. We are praying for you. 

New Hope has already adjusted to meeting the needs of the community by opening up our Food Pantry every week and delivering food all around Marion and Polk Counties. We anticipate that our ministries will continue to change to accommodate the unfolding reality of the coming season. 

We cannot plan now for what we don’t know. But, we can position ourselves to be nimble for the new normal that will slowly come.

We have to become even more proficient at doing ministry online and in Community Groups.

The world is shifting and we are figuring out how to do and receive ministry online. By no means do we envision becoming exclusively online or even predominantly online, but we do anticipate that our current efforts are, in part, preparing us to provide better and better online ministry. Figuring out Zoom, Live Streaming, Online Devotions, etc isn’t easy, but the possibilities for ministry in the future are significant. 

Additionally, we would remind you that New Hope has already shifted its emphasis to Community Groups. We envision more and more groups popping up all around Marion and Polk county. Each group is a “mini-church” where the Word and Spirit are shared in relationship. We don’t need a stage for church to happen. The week of June 1st we are opening up new opportunities for you to jump into community. In the short term, we can connect online, but as we are able to—meeting in host homes for Community Groups will happen and likely—before our large group gathering. The Holy Spirit has been guiding us this way already and in this season, He is affirming our Community Group Emphasis. 

We do not perceive the current governmental restrictions as a threat to our freedom to be the church.

First of all, we aren’t a church because the government says we are. We are an expression of the transnational, historic and eternal church. The Christian church throughout the ages has endured varying degrees of both governmental tolerance and persecution. In each place in history, the church has had to discern its responses to various injunctions. When the laws of Nazi Germany required the church to support its evil plan of genocide, it was right for the church to disobey because a fundamental Christian assertion of the value of all human life had been transgressed. While we don’t like all of the current restrictions and may fundamentally disagree with what the responses have been thus far, there isn’t an immediate scriptural reason for us to disobey the restrictions being placed on our church. In our case, we are following what Peter instructs us to do:

1 Peter 2:13–17 (NLT)

13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 

This does not mean an unilateral acceptance of every governmental decree, but it does mean that we are to be careful and thoughtful with our disobedience. I hope it is obvious to you that we have not been asked to disband as a church or to stop preaching the name of Jesus. If that were the case, we would disobey and go underground. 

COVID-19 has posed a real threat to the whole world. I don’t know what decisions I would be making if I were president or the governor. But, it is important that we start with the assumption that—just like you would or I would—our heads of state and health officials are attempting to make decisions that are good for our well being. One day we will look back at these decisions with 20/20 vision and be able to judge rightly. Right now, let’s focus on our humility.

So, we have shared with you six important touchpoints that we believe are important to keep in mind as we now share an outline of our plans for the next several months. 


Over the last few weeks, we have been paying special attention to the 3 Phase plan to reopen Oregon. Specifically, we have reviewed the application to begin Phase 1 Marion County has submitted to the State. Marion County has requested that places of worship be allowed to open during Phase 1 under stringent guidelines. We commend them for their efforts to help congregations to be able to worship. However...Several things are clear to us as we have reviewed the plans:

  1. According to the restrictions that are in place and proposed, we will not be able to meet together normally in a large group until later phases of the plan—which are likely months away.
  2. The stringent restrictions of phase 1 will make meeting together extremely difficult. Wearing masks, staying 12-24 feet apart if we want to sing, arranging auditorium seating for family units or single units, closing doors when the population threatens to exceed maximum capacity, a general inability to accommodate children (we have on average 75 kids per weekend), rearranging our auditorium so that individuals, couples and families can sit apart from one another-all this would require hosting, at a minimum, 6 services each Sunday—all with complex and restrictive protocols! 
  3. Our older and immune-compromised populations would be put at risk every time we gathered. Therefore, they would likely be excluded from participation

We long to be together, but we truly want our coming together to be a celebration and not like a trip to Costco, covered in masks, unable to touch, standing six feet apart. 

This whole situation has been fluid—if restrictions are significantly lifted, we will re-revaluate. Certainly some things will change over time. Even so, we have some clarity about how we will move forward.

  1. Our pastoral team has worked incredibly hard to create an innovative, accessible online service that accommodates the generations. It is easy to engage with and widely available. For the next 4 months, we are planning for our online service to be the regular rhythm for our public service. 
  2. Chris Bowlby will continue to lead the charge with Community Groups. We will launch Brand New Summer Groups. Existing Groups can stay together if they so desire, but new groups will be forming. While those groups will begin by meeting online, as restrictions lift and the weather clears, there will be opportunities for in person meet ups. We look forward to that advancement. 
  3. Also, there MIGHT be options for us to gather outdoors a time or two this summer. WE cannot make promises, but please know that we are investigating. 

Here are some next steps:

  1. Pray with us and for us. 
  2. As restrictions are lifted we have further opportunity to adjust our plans and would love your thoughts. We are providing a short survey so that we can receive your feedback. The survey will include a write in option for comments and will be anonymous with an option to provide your name and contact if you should desire the pastoral staff to get in touch for further discussion. Follow the link in the email, or the comments below or go to We invite everyone to pray which will help to ensure that, even in the midst of differing opinions, that we maintain a posture of love and respect toward one another.

The pastoral staff will review all comments and questions and respond via video next Wednesday at the same time.