On April 18, Rock Church resumed in-person services at 100% capacity, including at its East County campus location in El Cajon. Senior Pastor Miles McPherson said that with the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing churches to meeting indoors, leadership has met to assess the feasibility of how to do it safely. “This involves preparing the physical buildings, training staff and volunteers, and making the necessary safety precautions,” he said in a press release.
Rock Church East County Pastor Greg Hendricks said the church was excited to see in person gatherings again, beginning with offering two services on Sunday at 10 a.m. and noon. He said that the “euphoria of everyone’s excitement is exhilarating” since it has been more than a year since services have been held indoors. Hendricks said it has been quite the journey over the past year.
“It has been revelatory an enlightening as to what has happened during that time and how much innovation has been birthed during this time,” he said. “Our online audience has exploded from that. We did a great job of pivoting and putting things online, trying to figure it out on the fly. We were still able to serve our city throughout the lockdown. We were able to identify great touch points in the community and the guidelines of what we could do to connect with people. It was unfortunate that we had to be out of the building, but it also forced us to be innovative.”
Hendricks said many people are ready to gather inside church. Rock Church has held outdoor services since October 2020 in partnership with Cajon Valley Middle School. He said people felt comfortable outdoors, and the attendance response was good as people decided what they were comfortable with.
“Cajon Valley Middle School was really gracious to us and allowed us to hold our Sunday service there,” he said. “We have done many big events with them in the past. They opened their arms and doors to us, and we had outdoor services there from last October to last Sunday. People enjoyed it. They enjoyed the space, being spread out, the outside weather. That was a great time. We saw a lot of the local campus pastors, many who communicated and preached which was healthy for our church, but for those young leaders as well, including myself to get the opportunity to share the word of God and really impact our communities.”
Hendricks said now that it is time to get back inside, he believes there has been much anticipation of when the church would get back to the point of in-person services. He said the church is now entering a new season.
“It is a new idea of what it will look like moving forward, but what people can really expect is that we are going after the presence of God as we transition into a new season,” he said. “This new season is an understanding of where God is taking us as a church. I think the reach of the gospel was really defined over the last year.”
Hendricks said COVID forced everybody to shift their mindset on how to reach people across the globe by shifting online. He said even with a great team and staff who helped make that pivot, because it was not easy.
“But what we saw and explosion and inclusion for people who might live in San Diego, but their family is in Florida, so they could tune in and be part of the service from there,” he said. “The birth of communication, going online has expanded the church moving forward. I believe that people are starved to be together in person. I am anticipating a euphoria of celebration.”
Hendricks said it will continue its youth and children ministries, but that there are some restrictions in place.
“All of Rock Kids and youth ministries will be at 50%, the sanctuary will be at full capacity of what we can hold,” he said. “
Hendricks said for those not comfortable with indoor services, its setup outside seating with a monitor.
“We are taking all the regulations and precautions necessary,” he said. “This has been about a five week process to prepare for this day, and now here we are. We will still have our worship online at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. If you do not feel comfortable coming inside you can still watch the sermon online at those time. There will be many opportunities for people to engage as we move forward as a church. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP for services so that we can know about what to expect in attendance and we ask that they arrive early enough, so that finding a seat goes easier.”
Hendricks said that the church’s outreach programs in the community during the pandemic will continue.
“We have been out in the community this past year at multiple campuses,” he said. “At the El Cajon campus, we partnered with the city of El Cajon, obtaining resources. We took that resource and mobilized it to pass out more than $100,000 of food and resources to the community of El Cajon. We went to the elderly who could not get out of their homes, mobilized drive throughs for food and necessities on campus. Our Provisions Ministry was birthed from that. Partnering with the San Diego Food Bank and other organizations who provided resources and supplies for us to distribute in our community. There are still people that need these resources. The food drive has been a staple during COVID and the lockdown.”
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said Rock Church is a great partner in the community.
“We have worked together on some outreach projects, helping people in need,” said Wells. “We do a toy drive together, city cleanups, and various things that are important to the community. We surely appreciate how many people that were involved, and they have a great sense of community outreach.”
Wells said he thinks it is great to see churches opening again and that it is a First Amendment right that “should not be taken lightly.”
“Many churches wanted to stay closed until allowed to do so and I completely understand that,” Wells said. “Like anything else, many of the risk tolerances that people have is a personal decision. No one should be pushed to take any risks that they do not want to take. If you want to go to a church that is open and are not particularly concerned about the virus, especially in this day and age where most people are vaccinated, and the essential risk is minimal. I see no reason why churches should not be open at full capacity.”
People will be required to wear masks upon entering the facility, but once seated have the option to remove it. Seating indoors will support comfortable distancing and attendees are asked to keep appropriate distance from those outside of their household, kind of like a restaurant. All staff and volunteers will be required to have temperature checks upon arrival.
Rock Church has campuses in Point Loma, City Heights, San Marcos and East County. The Chula Vista campus and microsites will continue to meet outdoors for the 10 a.m. service. Online services will continue at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 6 p.m. Services are also streamed on Rock Church Facebook, Pastor Miles Facebook, YouTube, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Roku.
For more information and to RSVP for services visit www.sdrock.com/sunday.
Source: East County Californian