Some churches chose to close the last three months. CROSSROADS didn’t close because of COVID-19.  The reason is very simple – the Church as the Body of Christ is ESSENTIAL to the well-being of our local communities, the country, and the world. Closing would be an abdication of our Christian responsibility. What has happened since the decision not to close by the leadership of our church has been remarkable. 
Our worship attendance has consistently been higher, with some weeks topping 50% more people than the same Sunday one year ago. Our outdoor service on Easter had over 1000 in worship attendance online and 200 in our parking lot in spite of a snowstorm. People who used to call our church home and people who are brand new are all finding their way to us. We have also been able to hold smaller venue funeral and wedding services and during this time as well as the very special union of our own Pastor Mark Schlasner with his wife Amy Jo.
Financial support of the church’s ministries has remained strong, with some people picking up where others have had to reduce giving. Many have moved to online giving and several have started tithing for the first time.  Additionally, the people of the church have given generously to special funds for the support of fellow members who have been adversely affected.  We have given out groceries to over 1000 people since Covid 19 caused social distancing and sheltering at home. 
Our creative CROSSROADS staff and volunteers have excelled in finding ways to involve people in worship through online and parking lot services. Our outstanding staff have also been giving live devotions on Facebook that have inspired hundreds daily.  Our youth have continued to do Zoom gatherings and our Youth Pastor Nina has been doing social distance drop-offs of “Blessing Bags.” Our Children’s Director Krissy has been giving out daily ideas for kids and family devotions. Both Nina and Krissy have started to do creative countdowns before our online worship services.  Our adult small groups have continued to do Zoom gatherings and some groups have even grown larger during this Pandemic. God’s word continues to be discussed together and we encourage one another through intentional community.  Our prayer team and staff have continued to reach out in ministry to intercede over hundreds of prayer requests. Our community continues to be blessed through support of one another.
The laughter of children fills the halls of CROSSROADS every day. We made the bold decision to keep our daycares open at both campuses to help essential workers who needed childcare. Phil and Amy Shaver, owners of Four-Square Learning Center continue to provide quality infant and preschool care as well as expand their school age care during this critical time at the Lakeville Campus. LOVE Christian Child Care Center, owned by CROSSROADS and managed by Judy Hart, continues to help essential workers with childcare at our Inver Grove Heights Campus. All staff at both childcare centers have continued to do safety training while applying new policies and procedures to keep everyone safe.
The CROSSROADS family has stepped up to the challenge of the moment with flexibility and understanding that goes beyond what I would have envisioned. Pastor Deb and I are deeply grateful to all of you. Our CROSSROADS family has also increased their usual number of intentional acts of kindness, making a difference in our community.  I have heard numerous testimonies of members lifting people’s spirits with calls, emails, and personal notes. People have continued to make sandwiches for the homeless and drop off hygiene supplies for our elderly who are sheltering at home. I am so blessed to pastor a church that loves God and our neighbor as ourselves.
It has been encouraging to see how CROSSROADS continues to plan for the future. In the midst of a government slow down and deferred meetings, we signed three purchase agreements in March.  While banks have stopped loaning money for many development projects, plans have moved forward to construct a Senior Assisted Care and Memory Care Apartment building on our Lakeville Campus. Attached to the Ebenezer managed Senior Care facility will be a brand-new Four-Square Learning Center that will minister infants, preschool and school age kids.  At our Inver Grove Heights Campus, CROSSROADS has partnered to develop workforce housing that will help 50 families have an affordable place to live.  We have hosted community meetings, city planning sessions and ongoing planning meetings via Zoom and conference calls during this time. In spite of the obstacles, CROSSROADS has made tremendous progress while other building projects in Lakeville and Inver Grove Heights have come to a standstill.
There have certainly been challenges for us. The government, rightfully, told churches to close their buildings so that we won’t accidentally spread a harmful and sometimes deadly disease. This is no different than what my grandpa told me happened in 1918, except that today we have infinitely more options for connecting with each other. The government can close a building, temporarily, for the well-being of the community. The government can’t close CROSSROADS CHURCH. We began as a church without a building for the first 9 years at CROSSROADS. We have known since our inception that our church is present wherever “faith and life meet.” 
So about 10 weeks ago we ceased doing corporate onsite worship at our Lakeville and Inver Grove Heights Campuses. That same day, we opened the door to a new way of being the church on mission and living our faith. We’re still figuring it out and we still look forward to getting back into our buildings sometime soon. But, building or not, we’re still open for the essential work that the CROSSROADS family in mission is called to fulfill.
Read all SUMMER NEWSLETTER 2020 articles HERE