MSBC Coronavirus Updates
Keep up with us on social media for encouraging scriptures and the latest updates from MSBC.
In the coming weeks, we will post resources and activities on our MSBC Kids Facebook Group. The best way to stay updated with our Student ministries is to follow them on Instagram@mainstreet_studentmin.
Your tithes and offerings enable us to fulfill our mission of providing for those in need and reaching people with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ. We encourage you to continue your giving online.
We would love to pray with you! Submit any prayer requests at the email below.
Updated March 21, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Thank you for being patient as we worked on how to live stream the church services tomorrow morning. We will be streaming on Facebook Live at 8:30 and 11:00 am. If you are on Facebook, make sure to like and follow Main Street Baptist Church (@msbcgeorgetown). If you aren't on Facebook, don't worry. We will have a link embedded right on the church website. Go to msbchurch.com. At the very top, in the orange banner, you will see a button that says "Watch Live". Click on that and it will take you right to the services.
Looking forward to worshiping with each of you tomorrow,
Updated March 20, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I am looking forward to this Sunday for three reasons: 1) Everything will be different, 2) Everything will be the same, and 3) God will show up.
Everything will be different in the sense that we won’t be in a building together on campus. The doors to the buildings will be closed on Sunday, which is a first in the history of the buildings at 10th and Main.
Everything will be the same in the sense that the church is moving forward, because the church is not a building. God’s people will still gather together in prayer, around the Bible, and in worship. We will still be available to one another in a very personal way through the blessing of the Internet. Even the schedule is basically the same: 8:30 Traditional, 9:40 Sunday School via Zoom, and 11:00 Contemporary.
God will show up. He always does when His people gather together. I am also confident that many people have been praying for you and for others, and I know the difference prayer makes. I’m also especially excited to bring the message this Sunday entitled “He Gives Peace that Calms All Fears.” God does that, and He will this Sunday.
I’m expecting a good turnout along with a powerful Sunday morning. I’m especially happy that some will be joining us who haven’t been able to do so for a while, such as Dennis and Karol Chapman. Dennis told me that he’s even bringing his dog, Benny, to church on Sunday. I’m glad. Benny shows his teeth a lot...and it’s not because he’s smiling. Benny just needs Jesus.
Maybe you’ve got some “Bennys” in your life. Inviting them to church this Sunday would be good and very low-key. They could use some peace.
Sincerely looking forward,
Updated March 18, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I mentioned in the email sent to the church family six days ago, “Precautions will ramp up as the virus expands.” I also mentioned that “our church family will operate in rhythm with the community around us” and that we would be prepared to live stream Sunday services as early as March 22. Well, the virus is expanding on a national level, the rhythm of the community around us has changed by a few beats per minute, and we are ready to live stream. Starting this Sunday, March 22, the two services and all adult Sunday School will be virtual. While the offices will remain open, and while the Children’s Day Center will continue to operate in cooperation with the direction of local authorities, regularly scheduled church-related meetings at the location of 10th and Main will be on hold for at least the next eight weeks.
In what follows, the staff and I will do our best to answer questions we anticipate will be most prominent. If you have other questions, please, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What will the virtual Sunday morning schedule be?
8:30 Traditional Service
9:40 Sunday School
11:00 Contemporary Service
What will the Traditional Service be like?
The Traditional Service will be virtually the same as it has always been, only virtual. There will be prayer. There will be hymns. There will be a sermon. We are attempting to change as little as possible.
What will the Sunday Schools be like?
We will be using Zoom to facilitate community and conversations within Sunday school classes. With the help of your Zoom App which you can download onto your smart phone, tablet, and/or computer, or by going to Zoom.com on your web browser, you will be able to meet live with your entire class. The technology is easy to use once you’ve used it.
This evening all of our teachers will be trained. Those teachers will in turn have the opportunity to show those in their class how to use the app.
If you are curious to see how it works, go to youtu.be/VnyitUU4DUY. If you want more than an introductory video, there are other more extensive “how to” instructions online. Please, don’t fret. Your church family will help you to get comfortable quickly with the technology in advance of Sunday morning.
What will the 11:00 Contemporary Service be like?
It will be somewhat similar to our current service. However, during the message there will be an opportunity to ask questions and to leave comments during the message. Following the message, Bret and Mark will assist in a “talk-back” time.
Will you be using Facebook, YouTube, or Zoom for the 8:30 and 11:00 service?
That is yet to be determined. You will know well in advance of Sunday. We are currently assessing what will be the best option.
By the way, Kenneth Gailbraith, a relatively new member of Main Street, was involved in the live streaming ministry in a church in Arizona before moving to Georgetown with his family. He is now, of course, assisting us with setting up the virtual media ministry of Main Street. (Apparently, God takes care of us! Read Psalm 16.)
Why exactly has Main Street Baptist Church moved to virtual services?
To be clear, government authorities have not forced the closing of the building. The decision has to go virtual as a congregation is strategically appropriate for three main reasons:
Preservation of our small group connection: We want everyone who has been connected in small groups and Sunday School to remain connected. Even if a class could continue to meet on campus at 80% of “pre-COVID-19” levels, we believe that the people in every class would want to make adjustments for the minority that no one would be left out of community. It is love more than fear that motivates the transition to virtual church for a season of time.
Health concerns: While we as a ministerial staff are generally confident in the ability of our adults to choose for themselves their levels of social distancing, one person’s risk-assessment does not match another’s…and that’s the point. When the doors of the building are open, there will be people who come to church who really should not come. While most of us loathe the condescension of denying others their personal liberty, as shepherds we have an obligation to protect the healthy from those who may not be.
Community Cooperation: Many larger churches, schools, and universities have already closed due to legal obligation. While due to our more moderate size as a congregation we have no such obligation as of yet, we certainly do wish to cooperate with the greater community effort.
What are the opportunities for ministry to people from hard places in the next few weeks?
Unfortunately, there may be plenty of opportunities. While there is still no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Williamson County, there may come a time when we open our Ministry Center for child-care or for possible emergency medical care. The potential use of our building space to serve others around us is yet another reason to be supportive of embracing a virtual online approach to church community for next several weeks.
What will our children and youth be doing?
They will be doing plenty! Both Ellen and Mark have plans and will be/have been communicating those plans to children/youth workers and their families.
How can I give?
Visit msbchurch.com/give to get started with online giving. Or text a dollar amount to 512-648-4393. You can also mail or bring a check in during office hours.
Is the church office still open?
The church office is still open. Beginning Monday, March 23, we will have reduced office hours: Monday - Thursday, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. The pastors and ministers are still available anytime via email or cell phone. The church voicemail will be monitored even on weekends. Please, if you need any type of assistance, reach out to us. We are still here to support our church family.
Please, know that we will keep you up to date on any new developments. Please, continue to steer clear of the virus, panic, judgmentalism, and prayerlessness. Finally, please, know that we are not backing away from going to church. What we are doing is moving forward doing church together and being the church God wants us to be.
Updated March 17, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Thank you for the prayers! While a more detailed email will follow tomorrow before noon, I wanted to let you know that for at least the next eight weeks, Main Street classes and services will be virtual. Services will be live-streamed and all classes will be conducted via Zoom.
I know you are wanting to know more details, and you will get them in the morning. Just know that I have appreciated your prayers, and that we are confident that we are moving forward in a positive and constructive way for the benefit of our members, the community around us, and our Lord.
We are NOT backing away from our identity as A Family of Priests Revealing Christ, nor are we backing away from our core values of People Matter, Service, and Kingdom Growth. We ARE pressing forward TOGETHER in an adjusted way. We are NOT cancelling church for eight weeks. We ARE advancing as the church in a time that needs us to be the church God has called us to be.
There will be more to come tomorrow. Just know that I am looking forward to an exciting couple of months to come. It’s going to be good!!!
Grace and Peace,
Updated March 12, 2020
Dear Main Street Family,
The COVID 19 Virus has occupied the majority of news reports over the past few weeks. While we do not want to overreact, it is critical that we do not ignore the obvious danger involved. Precautions will ramp up as the virus expands. What follows is what we can and should expect from one another in the present:
Presently we have not changed any activities or programs.
Our church will continue intentional efforts to ensure that counters, doorknobs, and other places of contact are being antiseptically cleaned on a regular basis.
Do not shake hands or hug anyone at church gatherings. While the absence of hugs and hand-shaking will feel very odd to many of us, please, see this intentional but moderate social-distancing as the act of warmth and compassion for others that it is in a time of containment.
Use hand sanitizers every time you see one. We will have them scattered across the campus for easy access.
Often and throughout the day, wash your hands for 20 seconds, which is about the time to sing Happy Birthday twice.
For the sake of your church family, stay home if you are coughing, have fever, or feel lousy.
If the virus begins to spread rapidly in our area, the following are some possible actions we will take. We will communicate through all our channels of communication if any of these changes are enacted. Most of our possible changes will be triggered by school closings or public event cancellations. Our church family will operate in rhythm with the community around us.
If circumstances dictate, the first regular program events that will likely be cancelled will be all Wednesday Evening Activities. What makes the Wednesday evening activities particularly susceptible to cancellation is the serving of food; but this would affect all activities, not just the meal.
We need to be very careful how refreshments are handled on Sunday mornings. Everyone needs to help in this regard. There is a possibility that we will need to discontinue for a short time the eating and drinking of refreshments on Sundays. You will know in advance if we decide to do that.
We plan on having Sunday Worship unless the virus totally gets out of hand.
A team has been assembled and is currently working so that Main Street Baptist will be live streaming Sunday morning service as soon as possible. As early as March 22, people who choose to miss services will be able to watch services live via Facebook.
In the event that we are required to move into a season of remote worship and ministry, we will be ready and willing to do so. The church is the people, homes are great places for ministry, and worship services can be live-streamed. The church existed long before buildings, because the church is the people and not a location.
Navigating the next few weeks involves many risks. Please, be aware of the following dangers:
The Coronavirus: Apparently the virus is twice as communicable and ten times as deadly as the regular flu. The danger is real.
Fear: While FDR may have overstated the case that the only thing to fear is fear itself, fears can outpace reality. As of this writing there is no confirmed case of Coronavirus in Williamson County, our nation is taking aggressive and appropriate steps to contain the virus, and according to Worldometers.info of the 1,311 active cases of coronavirus in the U.S. population of 330,000,000+ only 10 of those active cases are considered to be serious or critical.
Judgmentalism: Whether we think others to be overreacting or under responding, we should all have the humility to know that we do not know what will or will not happen next. If a healthy young person chooses to not attend services for a season, we will not judge. If senior adult with preexisting conditions chooses to be in the building every time the doors are open, we will not judge. We should assume that every MSB family member is doing their best to discern what God would have them to do. We will not judge one another for our individual/family responses.
Prayerlessness: The less people know the more they talk. Such is only human nature. However, as we discuss the news and changing developments that seem to come on an hourly basis, let’s not forget to talk to God. Let’s not forget to pray for our leaders, the CDC, and health professionals who are on the front lines of dealing with the coronavirus. Let’s not forget to pray for other authorities, state and local, that they have a wisdom from above concerning what to do and what not to do. Furthermore, let’s pray for the physical and spiritual well-being of people around that globe.
Praying for you as I know you are all praying for me and for one another,
Updated March 25, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I sincerely appreciate the way everyone is responding to this “light and momentary affliction.” You are responding well! In what follows, I hope to communicate plainly as to how things will operate moving forward.
LAST SUNDAY’S ENGAGEMENT
Thank you all for making this past Sunday a special one. Attendance for our first Sunday-morning virtual gathering was strong.
In case you are interested, here are the numbers:
Traditional Service: 222 units reached
Contemporary Service: 829 units reached
Live interaction between Ernest, Bret, and Mark at 5:00: 798 units reached
“Units reached” means very broadly some computer or mobile device was tuned into the streaming event for at least three seconds. There is no way to know how to interpret that data with any precision since we do not know if one person or a group of people were viewing the device. Furthermore, we don’t know if that one person or that group of people viewed the whole of the live-streamed event or just a small portion.
What we do know with certainty is that our church family made it a point to tune in to the services, that many of you invited people to attend the virtual services, and that many people who have never been to a service at Main Street Baptist Church “came” for the first time. Thank you for inviting your friends! At the very least, the numbers for Sunday were encouraging.
We also know, based on the feedback we’ve received, that the adult and youth classes went well. Teachers, thank you!
NEXT SUNDAY’S IMPROVEMENT
We did receive feedback on how to improve the Sunday morning live-streaming. We appreciate not only the feedback, but also the spirit in which it was given.
On the positive side, we received a great deal of encouragement about doing the services and discussion live. Some of you said you felt like you were there. Others of you were quite glad we did not pre-record. Others of you were very appreciative and gracious in thanking those who worked diligently to set-up live-streaming so quickly on such a short runway. Again, special thanks to the team of people who helped our live streaming get off the ground and flying. It was not easy. Many thanks have rightly been expressed to Kenneth Gailbraith, Mark Rich, Alan Hart, Mike Truit, and Jeff Theisen. That we were able to do anything at all on such short notice and on the tail-end of Spring Break was a testimony to the service of these fine men and to God’s provision.
As for the constructive suggestions for improving the morning services…we are on it. We knew going into Sunday that we would have difficulty capturing the screens/lyrics/images. We are working on that. We are purchasing another camera, and we are in the process of changing software that will be friendlier to multiple media platforms. We are also addressing the “signal strength” issue that caused the fifteen-minute delay to the Traditional Service.
While we do want to make improvements to our live streaming, please do not expect the production of large mega churches who have been doing this for years. Our highest value in this season of social distancing is maintaining church family connection. Our top priority is not fabricating something slick. Of course, we do want to make appropriate improvements to help facilitate connection, and we sincerely appreciate the feedback.
WEDNESDAY EVENING ONLINE PRAYER SERVICES AT 6:00 P.M.
On Wednesday evenings we will continue to gather in an online format at 6:00 for prayer service. That time will include a ten-minute devotional, the sharing of prayer requests, and prayer.
SUNDAY EVENING Q & A SERVICES AT 5:00 P.M.
On Sunday evenings we will continue to gather in an online format at 5:00 for a question and answer period. Mark will continue to field questions presented through Facebook life and through texts he receives.
THE IMPACT OF SHELTERING IN PLACE
Sheltering in place will not impact any of the above services. We never have more than ten people in the building for any of our streaming services.
ON A FINAL NOTE
Keep praying! There is so much for which to pray, so do it throughout the day.
Remain faithful in your giving. I know it’s not especially easy, but God is faithful. Visit msbchurch.com/give for easy online giving.
Keep reading your Bible! At the conclusion of the Wednesday 6:00 p.m. service and Sunday 5:00 p.m. service, we will read aloud the chapter of the day from Luke or Acts. Do your best to stay on track.
Do NOT come to the buildings at 10th and Main if you are not “Essential Operation” personnel. I do not enjoy telling people to stay away, and we all miss one another. However, shelter in place. It is essential that we essentially do what is only essential.
Stay in contact with your small group and class. They would love to hear from you.
Continue to spread the word about our multiple live-stream services and Sunday School classes via Zoom. Your invitations are making an impact.
With love and respect,