Connection: A brief conversation with the pastor of Valley View Christian Church (VVCC), Jon Varner, reveals a heart for his people and a desire to connect deeply with them. A passion for preaching the truths of the Bible drives Pastor Varner in study and preparation. He recounts touching instances of his members with joy and love. Pastor Varner has served VVCC for over a year, but the last several months have not traveled an expected path for this pastor. “I have learned things I never thought I would have to learn,” stated Varner.
Varner relocated his wife Amber and their two children to Kent, Washington. To give his wife a break from homeschooling, Varner takes the kids exploring the beauty of Western Washington. They enjoy many outdoor adventures. He and his son have recently started tending a fish tank, which began with a beta in a bowl, then morphed into a new hobby and an avenue to connect with his children.
Valley View Christian Church functions as a body led by elders and deacons. Most of the ministry leaders are lay pastors or bi-vocational ministers. VVCC, established about 40 years ago as a church plant, offers a modern and blended worship style.
Varner leads his church through COVID restrictions with creativity and purpose. The changing needs have been met with ingenuity by the resourceful members at VVCC. They have built outdoor stages, swapped chairs between services, and ensured everyone has a way to connect with online or broadcast services. Currently, services are in-person, live-streamed, and broadcast on FM radio. Members register for one of their in-person services through the church website. “It takes more space to socially distance six individual people than two families of six,” Varner says with a chuckle about the things he is learning in this process.
Recently an elderly member at VVCC called Varner with excitement in her voice. She found the YouTube app on her television and would be able to view the services with greater ease. Technology holds greater importance now than at any other time in the life of the church. “More people are hearing the gospel than ever before,” said Varner. Most of the church meetings have transitioned to online platforms as well. Microsoft Teams covers the needs for pastor meetings, small groups, and Bible study, while their Awana ministry uses Zoom. A couple from VVCC relocated and have not been able to find a local church because of restrictions where they now live. The pair are still participating in services and studies with Varner and his members until they can connect to a church locally. One of the small groups offers a hybrid experience for in-person and online attendees.
Pastor Varner chose the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 UC headphones as his prize for winning a recent Bose Church giveaway. “The headphones are fantastic,” he remarked. “These are really comfortable. I feel like I could wear them for hours.” Varner uses the headphones in the office and at home to minimize distractions and maximize focus and work productivity. He is excited to use the Microsoft Team integration for staff meetings.
“We leave people behind when we rush ahead," Varner commented about technology. “Yes, we need to be together, but for those who are not ready [to meet in person], there is no reason to withhold connection when we can provide it,” he added. Church members are helping each other and receive the efforts of the staff and volunteer with gratefulness. Pastor Varner believes these days are difficult for everyone, but technology can help get people through this hardship. Everyone is in a season of flux, where looking forward can be troublesome. However, Jon Varner will lead with courage to the good purpose he knows waits on the other side.