“From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. Their children will be as in the days of old, and their community will be established before Me.” Jeremiah 30:19-20
As our state is moving through “phase 2” of the REOPENING, we are hopeful for our church family to be able to gather in-person again soon. Even as we understand and adhere to the “shelter in place” order, we long to be together to worship our God, grow in our faith, and do life in community. As we continue to move closer to a church REOPENING date, I want to answer three questions that will serve as reminders to the season we are in and the season we are looking forward to.
WHY ARE WE NOT MEETING YET?
Great question! Let me assure you it has nothing to do with a lack of faith or fear. Our priority is to serve and care for all who would choose to join us on Sundays. We believe that walking in wisdom and heeding counsel delivers safety and blessing (Proverbs 11:14). Our decision to not gather or contest local regulations is two-fold: 1) We believe that the Bible’s call to submission to authorities is to be honored and this current order does not compromise the church’s message or mission (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-14); 2) We are not a “stand alone” congregation, rather we are a part of a larger body called the Foursquare Church. Our denomination’s leadership has called its churches to heed state and local regulations. We recognize that some people (including believers and other churches) may not agree with this position and feel strongly that the government is overreacting, controlling, and mishandling their response to the pandemic. As we respect the right for people to have their opinion/position, we hope the same respect for our decision will be extended. 1 Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
WHAT MAY BE DIFFERENT WHEN WE RETURN TO IN-PERSON CHURCH SERVICES?
Glad you asked! Over the last several weeks I have been meeting with our staff team, in discussions with our denomination, processing next steps with other pastors (through the benefit of online technology) and reviewing a variety of resources and articles related on how to best move forward. We are praying over and processing several areas for our reopening: cleaning the facility; service times; sanctuary seating; kid’s classes; and how to safely celebrate communion, giving, and fellowship. As we focus on how to do things wisely and effectively, we will be scheduling a special ZOOM CHURCH FAMILY MEETING to share more and hear from you.
WHAT WILL BE BETTER WHEN WE GET BACK?
You are on a roll! Having church online has provided many open doors and opportunities! Greater numbers have tuned in to view the services, including believers from around the world and even some family members and neighbors who do not know Jesus or attend church. It is important to recognize that this amazing meeting platform was never meant to REPLACE being together, but it can ENHANCE our services and ministries beyond this season. There are certain elements that have been greatly improved and are hitting clear targets. The Livestream service experience is better and more engaging. We will continue to work on developing this platform of ministry, which will be needed for those who may still be restricted and others who may be wary of physically attending church. I can also see us continuing to offer discipleship classes (like Faith and Spirit App), weekly prayer meetings, and even small groups in a virtual/video format, in addition to on-site and in-person meetings. We have also been intentional in having multiple leaders contribute in the services and having more testimonies. These things have brought a greater dimension of strength and life. We want that to keep flowing!
The DATE that we reopen may be a current focus but let us make the WAY in which we reopen be our prayer focus and what matters most!