Updated: June 9th, 2020
Community Bible Church –
It was just under three months ago (March 13th to be exact) that I first emailed our church family concerning the rising discussion around a virus that was gaining attention in our nation. A week later, we made the hard call to suspend services for a while. We had no clue what the days ahead looked like in mid-March.
It has been almost a 1/4 of a year of not gathering (!), and yet I trust that the Lord has done us no wrong in this time. Because the Scriptures are true, the one who loves his bride the church has loved us through this time.
In recent days, our leadership has spent numerous hours working together to move towards reopening our Sunday gatherings. We have considered the plans of other churches, recommendations from government officials, as well as how Scripture informs us to be both good citizens and to trust in the Lord. Below include some details of our plans for regathering.
Before you skip to those details, may I encourage you to consider these months, consider James 1:2-3, consider why our Heavenly Father may have brought you – and each of us – through this time?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Why is it that the Lord has allowed this trial before us? How can we rejoice amid a COVID Church Era (whether COVID is fully behind us or more is still ahead)? What is it that the Lord desires to produce in you as you count these months as joy (joy – yes – joy is how we should see this time!)? I have prayed that God uses these days to make you more like Christ.
As you consider these thoughts, we also know that the “trial” is not entirely behind us. As we are planning to gather on June 14th, we must admit that things will not pick up right where we left off – as we want to gather cautiously, and not carelessly. We still have opportunities to “count it joy” as we worship in ways that may be slightly different.
Our Community Bible Re-Opening Plan:
We will continue holding worship services online in addition to in-person worship. It is important to continue offering at-home worship for those who are at-risk, are sick or have COVID symptoms, and those not yet comfortable gathering in person. And let me emphasize: if you choose to worship at home for these reasons, this is perfectly fine.
We will aim to practice social distancing in service. We like our “usual” habits on a Sunday morning – shaking hands, gathering for conversation, our “usual” seat during the service. However, during this time we want to give space between seated family units, hold back from those handshakes, and limit lingering long and closely in conversation.
We will only hold the Sunday Worship Service to start. We will not yet resume Discipleship Classes or the coffee time before service (you are welcome to bring your coffee). We will also hold off from offering a nursery option during the service – parents, please bring items from home for your little one(s) during the service.
Offering, bulletins, pew Bibles, coffee. Typically our Sunday includes passing offering plates, handing out bulletins, and coffee before service. We will reduce contact by placing offering baskets at the entrance/exit, bulletins will be set spaced out in pews for pick up, and we will suspend coffee/snack before service for now. We will also remove Bibles from pews to reduce contact, so you’ll want to bring your own Bible.
We will have masks and hand sanitizer available when you arrive. In this time, we know that these items have become very important precautions. Out of love and care for our neighbors, our leadership strongly encourages persons each person to wear a mask while in the building for the service. We will also offer hand sanitizer for use at church entrances. Again, as a reminder, if you are sick or if you are at-risk, please consider staying home these first Sundays.
Other precautions we will take:
- Bathrooms will be available, but we’d encourage you to use facilities at home if possible.
- We will prop open windows and doors throughout the building to allow for external airflow and limit contact with door handles.
- Pews will be taped off in a way to encourage social distancing.
- We will encourage filling in the front of the sanctuary first.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments on any of these elements, please do not hesitate to reach out to our leadership team or me.
As we each read these words and look towards this Sunday, I pray that each of us will consider these things and ask the Lord to guide our hearts towards wonderful worship of him, and also a great love of those in our church family. The desire is that the Spirit would work in us to honor Jesus pray that we be one (John 17).
Lord, we praise you and count these days of trial and challenge as joy that leads to steadfastness of faith for your glory! Amen
Grace & Peace to you,