This is a letter I wrote to our church at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our elders met last night to talk about what our church should do in response to the
coronavirus. Should we continue to meet as normal? Should we shut everything down for a while? These are questions that every church is wrestling with. This plan is our prayerful attempt at doing what is wise, while also striving to continually love and reach out to others.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the church has always been, and always will be, made up of people. Similarly, our mission is to exist as a group of people to reach other people with the Gospel of Jesus. While circumstances around us change – like going from a seemingly normal, stable world to global hysteria over the coronavirus – our mission doesn’t. What’s fascinating to me is that, historically, it has been in times of chaos and distress that the church has thrived in fulfilling its mission of impacting people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like those who have come before us, we now find ourselves faced with the God-given gift of chaotic times, and the question for us is: how do we respond?
We have to consider two important factors: our present conditions and our mentality. By now, you are, no doubt, familiar with our present conditions: restaurants are shutting down, the stock market is experiencing record lows, and health officials are recommending “social distancing” and not gathering in groups of more than ten people. Furthermore, older people and people with compromised immune systems and certain pre-existing conditions are at a greater risk of contracting the virus. These are all very important factors to consider.
But, it’s also important to consider our mentality. We can either adopt a fortress mentality – walling ourselves off from the world and being riddled with fear – or we can adopt a mission mentality – continually seeking to be used by the Holy Spirit to impact people with His message, even (and perhaps, especially) in adverse circumstances. The big question for us is: how can we have a mission mentality while still exercising good common sense and an abundance of caution in these present circumstances?
For now, this is our answer to that question.
For at least the next two Sunday’s we will not gather corporately and all activities will be cancelled. This timeline may get extended depending on changing conditions and recommendations. Instead, your elders will livestream a message from the Grace House. It’s important to us that we continue to offer a full liturgy to our family: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, a sermon, and questions to discuss and pray through together. This livestream will be at the same time as our usual service (10:30) and we will text and e-mail out a link on Sunday morning for everyone to log on.
However, we don’t want that to be the extent of our fellowship together. I believe that God wants to use this time to grow His church through His people and their passion for the Gospel. So, here’s what we are encouraging you to do: invite someone over to your house to join you! Think about a neighbor, co-worker, family or friend who would be blessed by a simple invitation. You could eat breakfast with them before our livestream, or share a lunch together afterwards. You could pray and take communion together. Invite other church families to come join you as well, from our church or another church. It’s entirely possible that we could impact more people during this time than we do in our usual gatherings.
In the next couple of days, I’ll send out a sermon outline and a few questions to discuss together. I’ll continue to encourage us to pray and talk through the questions in our home gatherings. Lunch together afterwards would be the perfect time to do this in your gathering. Also, please continue to talk with each other about what needs you or others have that we as a church family could meet. These needs can be as simple as bringing groceries to someone who would be at a greater risk if they went out.
This brings me to another way we are praying to be the hands and feet of Jesus during this time. I will be creating a form and e-mailing it out to everyone. This form is simply to be distributed in the communities where you live. It will have a place to either write your personal contact information or, if you are not comfortable with that, you can simply write the church’s information. But, it will offer your neighbors the opportunity to share their needs with you.
This will, we pray, not only afford you the opportunity to get to know them better, but it will also afford our church the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our neighbors in need. All this requires of you is taking the initiative...which is exactly what we have been talking about in our recent sermon series together!
As the situation develops, I will keep you informed of what we plan to do. But, here’s the important thing to remember: it is possible (and, I believe, God-honoring) to continue to live sensibly and cautiously in our present circumstances while also maintaining a mission mindset, seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit to minister to and love those in need. We can heed the recommendations of officials while still reaching out to those around us. This plan is our attempt to do just that. Obviously, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, especially if you are more susceptible. But, may we not blindly adopt a fortress mentality and a fearful spirit! God is sovereign, still in control, and, in His grace, has given us this glorious opportunity to shine His light of hope in a dark, worried, fearful time. May we seek now, as always, to glorify Christ together. I’ll be in touch. In the meantime, remember: Christ has overcome the world. Be of good cheer!
with you for His glory,
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.