During 2020, the Brocato family learned the power of family worship. On March 15, 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pastor Travis stood at the pulpit and said to the Rocky Creek congregation, “We want to be able to continue as a church, to be the church…we will do what we have to do…we are going to be smart, but we are going to be the church.” The following week, March 22, 2020, Pastor Travis was no longer preaching from the pulpit in a crowded sanctuary. Instead, Pastor Travis was sitting in a chair in front of a camera in the Multipurpose Room delivering a sermon titled “Social Distancing and Spiritual Growth.”
Our congregation landed at a place we never would have imagined. In fact, Pastor Travis posed a question for us to ponder that none of us would have believed we would have to face at 1801 Woodruff Road, “How spiritually healthy would your family be if the church doors had to close?” Presented with the fact that our world had changed, the staff was challenged to determine what we needed to do to face our new reality.
The church staff knew in mid-March that we had to address how to keep our church family involved in both corporate worship and in Gospel-centered conversations in our homes. Fortunately, Rocky Creek has the Dove Light photography/videography team as members of our church. Jason and Tara Massey were able to follow our super-creative pastor around town as they filmed Pastor Travisʼ sermons outside the church doors. Daniel Gibson coordinated the work, and the congregation got to await the Sunday morning surprises. Kids and their parents eagerly awaited to see “where” Pastor Travis would be each week.
It was encouraging to see pictures of our Rocky Creek families engaging in worship together. Brett and Melanie Brocato posted pictures of their family engaged in worship in their home. When asked how they managed family Bible study and worship during quarantine, Melanie responded, “We have four kids under 10. Our youngest takes naps on some days, so we usually had preschool and elementary Family Bible Study first. If we couldnʼt finish adult church before lunch, we had it at nap time.” The Brocatos also shared that their family worship time was a time that their children would sing with greater volume and enthusiasm because it was simply their family worshiping at home.
The church staff did not forget about families with children like the Brocatos during the time of quarantine. Lindsay and Joy provided a Family Bible Study through a media link each week which enabled moms and dads to lead their children in Family Bible Study. Preschoolers could continue to engage in preschool worship with Mrs. Lindsay. Melanie encouraged the staff by sharing, “Our 6 year old enjoyed the chance to get really good at Bible trivia! All the kids looked forward to see how the Bible story would translate with paper bag people or little puppets. I believe the animations helped them remember the real stories.”
In addition to the online resources provided during quarantine, all age groups had the opportunity to participate in Zoom groups to keep connected to Bible study groups. Even though we were not able to be together in person, we attempted to stay united as a church family. The Zoom group leaders for the Brocato children mentioned how much closer they felt to the children they were on Zoom calls with because they got to see the children in their home environments. The children could show special toys or things that they treasured in their homes. The Zoom calls provided a way for the church to continue to be the church outside the walls. Melanie understood that this online gathering served to connect her family to the church while they were away from the physical building. Melanie shared, “I’ve known for a long time that the church is not a building, but the followers of Jesus Christ. The past several months have been a good reminder of that, and a great way to drive that point home with our kids.”
Rocky Creek celebrates that the church responded with affirmation when we had to change our processes to stay connected. Brett Brocato encouraged the church staff by saying, “We knew the Rocky Creek staff was trying hard to keep our church family connected and worshipping during the quarantine. We were blessed to have church leaders in our Zoom small group, which gave us a chance to watch God guide them through this challenging time.” Rocky Creek learned that while we missed coming together corporately we could still unite together with the technology and resources that God provided for our church, during this 2020 season.