Church Gatherings, City Orders, and Our Response
How Will Church Meetings Be Affected?
We are strongly and joyfully committed to gathering whoever is able to gather in-person on Sundays as a church. God has called us to gather, to worship, to hear the word preached, to encourage one another (see Heb 10:25). While we might do some of that differently these days, it doesn’t mean we will stop pursuing these biblical essentials. We are committed both to honoring God‘s commands for the church to be the church as well as God‘s command to honor those in governing authority (read more here). The city order does not affect our ability to gather, and we believe that is the right call, and something to be grateful for.
We have worked hard the past several months to provide as safe an environment as possible for the greatest number of people possible (read more here). We are not aware of any cases of transmission at our church since this began, but like any location where people are present we cannot fully remove all risk of exposure. We would encourage everyone to pray and think biblically about risk and decide whether in faith you can participate. For some, with major health risks coming on Sundays might be a time for caution and getting counsel. For others, Sundays might be a time for courage and commitment that honors God. Seek the Lord and talk to us as pastors if you have questions.
Our Community Groups are the one current church ministry that we see may be affected. Right now the order does not allow gatherings at homes but does allow them at parks. In fact, we already have one group that has been meeting at the park anyway (go Rueda group!). So for the immediate future groups can either gather via zoom, at a park, or in the church building. Your CG leader should be able to communicate plans with you soon.
How Should We Respond?
While this doesn’t mean major changes for us as a church practically it does create a challenge in each of our hearts. Some may be tempted to react to this in fear or anxiety, others in anger and frustration. But I think we already have a compelling example for how to respond, so let’s allow our Indian brothers and sisters to show us the way.
Early in the COVID crisis our gospel partner Jaya Prakesh and his church faced extremely severe restrictions in their village, far stricter than the ones we faced. But rather than responding in anger or fear Pastor JP responded by looking around him for the needs of his village. He identified that many in the village would starve without being able to work, so we worked with him to feed hundreds of people and thousands of meals. He used the situation as an opportunity to serve people in practical ways with gospel hope.
I believe God would have us respond like Pastor JP in this situation. Rather than responding in anger or fear let’s respond by looking around our “village” and asking God to help us see the needs around us. Every one of us has a “village” of relationships. For some, their village might include frightened and anxious co-workers that need an example of light and hope and peace. For others, their village might include a neighbor who is more isolated and who could use a gift package. For others, their village might include someone in community group who needs a regular phone call of encouragement.
“Where has God placed me? Who can we serve where God has placed me?” Those are the questions I believe God would call us to ask right now. Anger and anxiety turn us inward. Love for our neighbor turns us outward. And when we turn outward we both find ourselves more at peace as well as glorify God.
We are committed to loving our neighbors and serving those around us during this time. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that last night at our elders meeting we planned out three months of outreaches in our community. We are convinced God wants us to press in to our mission in this season, not shrink back from it. This is starting with our neighborhood outreach on October 31. Then God-willing we will be reaching out around Thanksgiving with food and in December with music and creativity. People in our communities need the hope, peace, and life of Jesus right now. If you can jump in and help with what’s coming up, please jump in. Our city needs the light of Jesus and we need your help. If you can’t participate in person, please pray.
May His kingdom come and His will be done, in our city as it is in heaven,