Remember that old kid’s song, “The more we get together, the happier we will be?” Well, I’m wondering how happy we’ll be getting back together into our buildings. Seriously. Right now, pastors and churches are being pulled in many directions. Some want to open up everything right now while others want to wait until everything is perfect. No matter how fast or how slow, some people will not be happy. There is even a debate as to whether we should wear masks. One church decided to have one service “masks required” and the other service “masks optional.” Great idea!
Your pastors love you and want the best for your church family. You can trust them in the process of reopening your church. Support them. Just the other day, Pastor Josh Conn, lead pastor of South Albany Community Church, wrote a detailed email to his congregation. Here is a section from that email which gives some whys and hows of coming together.
The Why’s and the How’s of Coming Together
By Josh Conn
Let’s all come together, regardless of our personal convictions and make bold statements of unity grounded in a broad scope of scriptures. We stand to care for one another, deferring to one another over our own personal preferences. This is what I believe scripture not only encourages but demands of us as the church. Take Heart! Here are the why’s of our mission.
#1 Our Obedience towards Christ
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14) Deference, servanthood, humility. These are characteristics of our great savior Jesus Christ. The only time Jesus rioted was when religious people misused the holy place. Jesus spoke severely to religious people who were pious, power hungry and proud. This may be the single greatest opportunity for us as a church to understand humility. Let’s all humble ourselves through acts of service. Take Heart!
#2 Our Most Sincere Love for One Another
“But in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3-4)
One of the things I am drawn to and have noticed over the last six months is our amazing care and love our congregation has for one another. It is our desire that as we open our facility, we do it with the greatest care and concern for those around us. My convictions may be different than yours, but we must do our best to ‘show love’ by taking every precaution to help those who want to worship and feel they are safe in the building. We can show love through, social distancing, wearing a mask, limiting contact, and practicing adequate sanitizing procedures. We do this out of sincere love for one another.
Could I ask, as your pastor, that as we open up to worship together we not demand our individual rights but show our oneness as the body of Christ through every compassionate action? We must acknowledge those who may be vulnerable and who would also love to fellowship with the body of believers. We all have opinions regarding when and how we should open up our facility. But we as a leadership team have resolved to do it slowly and strategically. We must show love and give the greatest care and concern to those who are most vulnerable, this is our highest priority. As of right now, we don’t have a date of re-opening the building up for in-person meetings.
However, here are some of the procedures we will be implementing and some of the things you can expect as you come back into our building in the near future:
- Our offices will be open starting next week May 26th Tuesday and Wednesday.
- For a time, we will need to limit the amount of people in the facility in one place to less than 25.
- We will continue to broadcast a live video each Sunday and aren’t planning on opening for Sunday services until after Phase II is declared. When that begins, we will let you know the first service date and the times. If you feel unwell, please choose to stay home and worship with us online.
- The seating inside the sanctuary will look different. We encourage you to sit with your family and leave adequate space between you and other attendees.
- We encourage social distancing. Handshakes and hugs should be limited for the time being.
- We will have new cleaning and disinfecting routines, particularly on frequently touched surfaces. You will see people during and after our services helping with these new routines.
- We will eliminate food and coffee service for the time being.
- We encourage the use of cloth face coverings for everyone who does not have trouble breathing.
- We recognize that cloth face coverings are meant to protect others in case the wearer is unknowingly infected without symptoms.
Please remember this is all temporary and subject to change as leadership deems necessary.
#3 Our Testimony and Witness to Our Community
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
If you are reading this I assume you love Jesus. The world is watching, and what we talk about and where we talk about it matters. There are four primary places above that we will carry our witness. I believe homes, our facility, our jobs and to the ends of the earth are four recognizable places to all of us to be the church. I encourage you to gather. No one has told you cannot pray, no one has told you to not worship and sing, no one has told you not to read your bible. Larger gatherings will come in due time but for now, the method to accomplish our witness has changed and won’t be the same for a while, BUT WE WILL BE WITNESSES!
BEFORE YOU GO
If we expect to happy when we all get together, it won’t be by accident. I can’t say it enough. Keep praying. Take time to work together. Clarify expectations. Communicate clearly and often. Go slowly.
What other whys and hows are your church doing? Love to hear from you!