Ryan Thompson · 5/16/2020
WE CAN’T WAIT TO BE BACK TOGETHER SOON!!!!
Upcoming Schedule for Coming Back Together:
If you are healthy and able to attend our corporate worship, we strongly encourage you to do so, as livestream is never a substitute for the gathering of the body. However, if you are sick, part of a high-risk group, or have other reasons for not attending, we will still be offering a livestream at this point to help care for you and your family and provide you with Biblical teaching.
- Sunday, May 17 – Two services at 9 AM and 10:30 AM. This is not a public reopening but covenant members have been invited to attend.
- Sunday, May 24 – Streamed prayer service in preparation for our public reopening on May 31st.
- Sunday, May 31– Public reopening with two services at 9 AM and 10:30 AM.
- In an effort to balance the attendance at both services to maintain social distancing, we are loosely assigning Community Groups to attend a certain service. This is simply an encouragement and not a mandate by any means, and more than anything else, we just want you to attend a service, if possible.
- May 17-May 31- Church-wide devotional study in the Songs of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). For these 15 days leading up to our public reopening, we encourage you to dedicate one psalm each day to study, reflection, and prayer.
- PLEASE NOTE: You should consider staying home if you are considered high risk and/or have pre-existing health conditions. Please stay home if you have experienced any symptoms of respiratory illness in the last week, such a severe cough, fever, or trouble breathing.
What to Expect When Coming Back Together:
Though we are coming back together again for worship, things will not be exactly the same for quite some time. Below is a list of things you can expect.
- Socially distanced chairs in the worship gathering. Family units and those of you who have been in the “same circle” during the quarantine may sit together.
- Discouragements from congregating in the worship building. If you would like to gather, you are free to do that outside. But when you come in, please find your seat and exit the building promptly following the worship service. Coffee will be served outside.
- There will be no children’s discipleship or nursery, and all children are required to stay with their parents/guardians at all times. We love having our kids attend the service with us, and we will have some special resources for the kids to help them stay engaged. Please remember that children are a blessing, not a burden, and babies will make noise and kids will have trouble sitting still during a worship service. That’s okay and we get it! Keep in mind as we work to serve our families well, our plans for our kids may change as we further identify needs and creative solutions.
- Shorter services…The services will be less than an hour long to ensure adequate time between service for cleaning and to allow people to leave prior to the arrival of those coming to the second service. This means few worship songs and shorter sermons….I know you are all very disappointed about the shorter sermons…but remember, this is just a season…
- A deep cleaning of all hard surfaces between services.
- Greeters holding open the doors to the worship building so that you don’t have to touch any surfaces along with hand sanitizer made available for use before entering the building and exiting the building after the service is over.
- I cannot wait to have communion together again! God has given us this means of grace to be reminded of the Gospel and our common unity in the blood of Jesus as a family of faith. And so, when we come to the Lord’s table, we will consider safe and sanitary practices for doing so.
Considerations for Coming Back Together:
Meeting together for corporate worship is one of God’s primary means of grace for his people, and we should make every effort to not neglect it.
There is no category in the Biblical witness for a Christian who voluntarily chooses to abstain from worshiping with a local body. Not only is gathering together an assumed practice (Matthew 18:19-20) and a commanded practice (Hebrews 12:22-24) of the Christian community, it is a joyful one. When Christians are able to physically gather together, they receive the full benefit of singing, praying, reading, observing, and hearing the Word of God together. This is an experience that cannot be replicated by physical distance and through screens. I hope that this time apart has caused an aching in you to be together again!
We must do what we can to love and care for the most vulnerable of our neighbors.
As we have experienced through COVID-19, there are times when meeting together is harmful to the body and to our Biblical witness. We must wrestle with the fact that we are called to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). If our meeting together puts us or our vulnerable neighbors at significant or unreasonable risk, we should abstain for a time and consider how we might spur one another towards good works in the midst of such special circumstances. For the last eight weeks we have chosen to not meet together because it could have jeopardized the health and public good of both our body and the neighbors we are called to love. However, with the current coronavirus situation in our community, the slow reopening of the state of Texas, the measures that we are taking as a church to mitigate risk and keep people safe, and our desire and need to worship together corporately, we believe we can now begin moving towards public meetings.
Diversity of opinion is expected, and is a good thing, as it drives us towards Biblical Wisdom.
We will not all see eye-to-eye on any timeline that involves risk and effects people in different ways. Some of us will feel more strongly towards caution and need more time before attending gatherings with large groups of people. Some of us have been ready to gather with others for quite some time and may even think we have taken too long to hold services again. And some of us will be somewhere in the middle. Diversity of opinion, however, does not mean that we cannot have unity. As those who are unified to Christ, we share a spiritual DNA that allows us to view our brothers and sisters not with disdain, but with utmost trust. We can learn to bear one another’s burdens and allow room for freedom of conscience as the Spirit of God convicts and moves in each of our hearts. In this way, our diversity is a blessing to the church, as we learn to give one another the benefit of the doubt in Christ and find our unity rooted in our common spiritual identity, not our common opinions. On each end of the spectrum, we must fight for Christian charity and also Biblical wisdom.
None of these decisions have come easy but with much discussion and prayer. Praise God that your elders have been completely unified throughout this process, and we believe the Lord will answer our prayers and preserve unity in the faith family. In these days, we encourage you always to hold fast not to timelines and buildings and phased reopenings, but to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember always, God’s plans have not been shaken up at all by this coronavirus. He sets every date and ordains every day towards the praise of His glory and the good of His people. God is building His church. God is sustaining His Church. And God will continue to hold His Church fast to Him, day by day, moment by moment, until the day we get to glory when nothing will stop us from worshiping Him forever and ever.
We love you deeply and cannot wait to see you again.
Ryan, Paul, and Stephen
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