One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4
First Family Church members and friends,
After much thought and prayerful consideration, we have made the decision to postpone our Lord’s Day services through the month of March. This was not an easy decision as we appreciate and love the ministry of the Word preached, and realize how essential it is to our fellowship and discipleship. It is our great joy and privilege to be able to gather for worship, and our hope and prayer is that making this decision now, will make it so that we can all (not just those outside of the high-risk category) gather together again sooner than later. We realize that canceling our Lord’s Day services is a different plan than what had been put forth the last two days, so we apologize for any confusion and inconvenience this new decision creates. The following is what has influenced our decision.
1. We learned today that Contra Costa County has mandated that gatherings of 100 or more are now being prohibited from meeting.
Though it is possible that we would have had less than 100 people at either of our services tomorrow due to the wise precautions people are taking – we felt it is best to not chance it and have to turn people away.
2. We are taking into consideration that we are blessed to be a multi-generational congregation, but that also means that we have many who fall into the higher risk category. We felt it would be compassionate to them, to postpone meeting so they don’t feel like they have to make a choice that could potentially put them in danger. Our desire is to protect all the saints in our care (Acts 20:28) with great effort, even if it is uncomfortable because Christ Jesus went to the length of taking on flesh, and then dying for his bride.
3. Our role in caring for the saints is largely soul care (Hebrews 13:17). We are doctors of the souls and not really doctors of the body (though of course – a person is body and soul). We don’t feel that we are in the place of making public health decisions, so we are trusting the wisdom of others in this matter.
4. The state is not looking to prohibit the church from gathering because they don’t like what we believe or teach. They are making what they believe is a wisdom move to prevent the spreading of CORVID-19. Romans 13 serves as a guide in this issue - Romans 13:1–4
 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,  for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. (ESV)
5. In 1918, the Spanish Flu was a pandemic. In those times, churches willingly complied with the call for social distancing and it helped slow down the virus. The concern right now is that hospitals will be overrun in the near future – but isolating now will help to prevent that. It is therefore an act of loving our neighbor that also compels us to comply with this mandate. Also, God fearing churches cancel the Lord’s Day service every year in the face of severe storms (not a California issue, we know). This is really no different than that.
As a result of these matters, it is our decision to postpone our Lord’s Day services through the month of March. This means, Lord willing, that we will be able to gather again on April 5th. Our midweek gatherings will still take place (more on that later). Please understand that this plan is fluid as we are dealing with an unprecedented situation, and we are looking to respond with your best interests in view. That said – shepherding must still continue as the church is still in fact continuing. This virus will not be the end of God’s church.
First Family Church’s elders and deacons are committed to caring for the flock in this time as in any. What follows is our plan for ministry through Sunday April 5th, when we hope to be able to meet again.
A. On Sunday’s, the elders and deacons will gather early in the morning for a time of prayer. This is in place of the “pastors prayer partners” ministry. After a time of prayer, a sermon will be recorded with the elders and deacons in attendance. We won’t be attempting a live stream because of our lack of confidence in our internet connectivity, but we will record the sermon and upload it right away. Ideally, the sermon will be online and available before 12 noon that same day. We will also include with the sermon, the worship bulletin, prayer corner sheet, sermon note sheet/outline. We’ll get you the songs we had planned to sing that day and put them in a Spotify link. You will need a Spotify account to listen to the songs.
Please know that is not a substitute for being able to gather with the saints. This is a temporary method we are going to employ for the time being, while we long to meet together again.
Suggested Plan for Worship on the Lord’s Day while we can’t gather:
· Plan your morning around being able to view the sermon around 11am – 12noon. When you notice the video is uploaded –
· Begin with prayer. Thank the Lord for the grace given to be able to worship still, to be able to gather in person soon, for your church and the lost, and for help from the Holy Spirit to grant understanding.
· Begin with first 5 songs in the Spotify link. Spend some time praying in between the songs, reflecting on what was taught through singing.
· Listen to the sermon.
· Listen to the last song.
· Close in prayer.
B. Worship through giving is still possible during the pandemic. You can give by putting your offering in the mail to 3195 Contra Loma Blvd., Antioch CA. 94509. You can give through online giving here (minimal fees so don’t worry about that) - http://firstfamily.us/giving/. You can drop your offering off at the church during the week, during normal office hours.
C. We plan to continue pastoral visitations as long as we are healthy. If you would like a visit, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you’re elderly or are concerned about your health, let us know as we are happy to make whatever accommodations you need.
D. We are encouraging the midweek small groups to continue meeting, and to take advantage of those times by spending time in prayer for those who have contracted COVID-19 and for the end of it’s advancement. Please follow the wisdom guidelines for public gatherings contained in the email given on 3/13/2020 – which is just below this one.
E. Our Kid’s Club ministry is postponed through March because Sutter Elementary is closed through then.
F. Our Somerset Bible Study is postponed through March because the retirement community is not allowing group meetings due to many residents being in the higher risk category.
G. It’s hard to say what will happen with the Food Pantry and Street Care (ministry to the homeless) ministries as of now. It will depend on what the Food Bank and our other distributors do.
H. We have been very grateful to all who have been attending our Sunday evening service and don’t want to lose momentum as we move to this being a weekly occurrence. We were scheduled to have our next one on the last Sunday of this month, but will for now be canceling that service. Perhaps it will change.
In closing church – we would like to remind you once again that we have much to be joyful for right now. See the first message given on 3/12/2020 for more there – also below this one. Sanctify Christ in your hearts as Lord (1 Peter 3:15) and be ready to serve others in this time. We don’t have reason to fear, nor have we been given a spirit of fear. In a time when people are stockpiling – we are given an opportunity to be generous. Look for ways to bless others in your church first, and then those in your community. Stay in contact with your church family – whether that is by phone, social media, email, or making time to meet with one another. Be quick to share your needs and prayer requests with your church family.
We are still very much in the planning stage of responding to everything going on. Perhaps we will be able to orchestrate some small prayer meetings over the coming weeks. As always – please do reach out to us with any concerns or ideas you may have. You are not alone – you are a son or a daughter of God Almighty because of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, and he has placed you in his family - Ephesians 2:19–21
 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (ESV)
Please don’t worry in this time. We know the Father is aware of all that is going on, and even that this all is part of sovereign plan. So look to him. Philippians 4:6–7
 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
For Christ’s glory,
The Elders of First Family Church
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A: That I am not my own, 1
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, 2
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood, 4
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil. 5
He also preserves me in such a way 6
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head; 7
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation. 8
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life 9
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him. 10
1.1 Cor 6:19, 20.
3.1 Cor 3:23; Tit 2:14.
4.1 Pet 1:18, 19; 1 Jn 1:7; 2:2.
5.Jn 8:34-36; Heb 2:14, 15; 1 Jn 3:8.
6.Jn 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 Pet 1:5.
7.Mt 10:29-31; Lk 21:16-18.
9.Rom 8:15, 16; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14.