March 17, 2020
Hello church family,
In this unusual time of constantly changing circumstances, I would like to update you on our plans for church activities moving forward. Governor Kelly has recommended that no groups over fifty meet, and President Trump has recommended that even social groups stay at ten or less. In addition, I was notified today that the Carnegie building will be closed at least through the end of this month. They are not allowing any events to be hosted there, including our Sunday reservation. In light of this we are making plans to continue our ministries of teaching and worship and fellowship in different ways.
Many of you remember how in the first several months we met in a living room, and you know how sweet those early times together were. We plan to have a small group of people meet in my home like we used to, and stream the meeting to everyone else. Our time together will include our normal pattern of prayer, scripture reading, and a message from the book of James. To aid those at home in following along, we will send out a link to the video and the lyrics to all the songs we plan to sing (look for an email later this week).
Even though this virus is disrupting many things, Sunday is still the Lord's day, and we encourage you all to set apart Sunday morning to worship Christ and open your heart to his word. Although we cannot be present physically together, there is something real and significant about uniting our hearts in worship and the word at the same time.
That being said, what we are doing (online video) is no substitution for the real thing. It is nothing close to the biblical pattern and requirement of what a church (the ecclesia / assembly) is to be and do. It is still good, but a lesser good, one that hopefully whets our appetite for the real thing.
This may raise a question for some, "Is this really the right decision? Are we being disobedient in some way?" To evaluate this biblically, a situation like this may fall into either an Acts 5 category (we must obey God rather than men) or a Romans 13 category (be subject to the governing authorities). There are several reasons why I believe this is a Romans 13 situation:
At this time we are also planning to suspend our small group meetings. Although I had hoped we could continue these, it seems prudent to wait. I will however be sending out discussion questions and some points for prayer. We hope you will take time during the week to discuss and pray with your family, or to connect with one or two others (over the phone or in person if possible) and work through the material together.
There is far more to being part of the church than taking in preaching and singing along. Members are to use their gifts and the body is to build itself up in love (Eph 4). Please remember that there is a great danger in times like these of becoming self-focused and individualistic. Pray for the unity of our church during this unique season. Contribute to the strengthening of the body by calling someone, sending a text, or reaching out some other way. Plan to do something tangible to reinforce the interconnectedness of the body of Christ.
As you communicate with others, seek to encourage and demonstrate love. Look for needs. Pray together and discuss God's word together. My prayer is that this time would increase our longing to gather together again as soon as possible.
If there are challenges we can help with, please don't hesitate to contact myself, your small group leader, or one of our deacons.
Praying for you and with you as we patiently wait on the Lord and trust in his care.
- Pastor JD Summers