COVID-19 Church Check-In: La Viña Burnsville
In this COVID-19 church check-in, we hear from Pastor Miguel Aviles who shares how La Viña Burnsville has been navigating the pandemic, holding their weekly meetings, taking care of the vulnerable in their community, and experiencing the Holy Spirit through it all.
Pastor, La Viña Burnsville (Burnsville, MN)
Greetings! I would like to share with all of you what we have recently been doing at La Viña Burnsville.
We could not have imagined all the changes that would take place as the pandemic struck. We thank God that for more than three years we have our services online, and because of this we were much more equipped to preach the Word in these times. We have also implemented tithing via text or online — this too has helped.
During the pandemic we continued to host our services on Sundays at 1pm. In addition to Sunday worship, we have other meetings as well: On Tuesdays at 7pm, we hold a time of praise and worship. On Wednesdays at 6:30am, we have a short devotional time and on Thursdays at 6:30pm, as usual, we have a Bible study where time is spent learning, praying, and worshiping …all of this takes place online via social media!
We began each of these services with everyone who had a part in the meeting using Zoom or social media from within their own homes. At the end of May, those leading would all meet together in one chosen home. The teens and young adults have also maintained their small groups via meetings hosted by Zoom.
On Sunday, July 12th, for the first time in a while, we had a service in a park that was open to the entire church, with the exception of those who might pose a health risk to others or be at-risk themselves. We had a great time and felt the Holy Spirit move! One could easily see the jubilation on the faces of all those present. They said as much too as they expressed joy, and we felt that the Spirit was doing something special in this time together.
We did all this following the recommendations of health experts. After having evaluated the service outdoors, we’ve decided to continue to congregate in the park and still continue the services via social media for all those who preferred to remain at home.
It has truly been a joy to meet together in person as ONE congregation. We will continue to take all the necessary precautions going forward. As for all other services, we’ll continue, for the time being, doing so via social media or Zoom.
This time has definitely been rough as we must all maintain our distance; we cannot give each other hugs nor, per our culture, give each other a kiss on the cheek. Much like other cultures, Hispanics are very affectionate and demonstrate love through greetings which include hugs and kisses.
We love to spend a lot of time with the families of the church. We understand that the church is not a building, rather, the people wherever they may be—that’s where the church is. However, this has left us missing our spiritual family.
We believe that God is allowing this to happen as he has a purpose and that we won’t leave this pandemic until his purpose is realized.
We continue to encourage those who don’t attend the in-person service to connect online via social media to our meetings. To the Glory of God, we’ve noticed as well that the pandemic has permitted many more people to be part of our services! We saw for example, some services with as many as 1500 views – something that had never happened prior to the pandemic.
In addition, we’ve seen some people are watching online from their respective countries including: Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico. Our only concern is that some people who have been faithful to attend in-person meetings in the past, may become too comfortable with the online service option and choose not to gather with us in-person again when the pandemic is over.
We also know people are not only hungry spiritually but also for physical food, in that, many of them have lost their jobs or have been required to reduce their working hours. It has been a great blessing to work together with South Metro Vineyard Church, receiving gift cards to local supermarkets and giving them to people who are in need in our community. We have also compiled a list of organizations that give away food for people in need.
It’s amazing what we can do together when we join for the same purpose.
As pastors, my wife and I are doing fine but we have had some moments of doubt where we’ve wondered if we are doing a good job as leaders of the church during this pandemic. Are we doing a good job discipling and following up with our people? Are we being effective in the area of evangelism? It hasn’t been easy! I think we are actually working harder than before the pandemic.
On the other hand, we have seen some members less committed to God and the local church at times. We continue to pray that our people will rise up in prayer and commitment to God. We have sought God’s direction on how to be the church during this time and we have already made some changes, changes that we continue to pray for and evaluate the effectiveness of what blesses the most during this time.
Please pray for us that the Lord will continue to give us wisdom and direction to be the church in this time of crisis for the whole community here in Minnesota.
Pastor Miguel Aviles