As we are in the midst of the “You Asked For It” series, let me share with you the #1 question I keep getting asked…
“When are we going to open up the church again?”
Well first off, the church never closed. Remember the building is not the church… you and I are. Worshiping together, praying together, learning together, serving together… these things are the church and they have not stopped over the past 2 months, they have just taken a different form.
However, I know what people mean when they ask the above question. What you want to know is when will we be able to meet in person again on Sunday’s. Guess what? I ask that question a lot myself. I miss seeing you and talking with you in person. I miss the energy of us being assembled together honoring and glorifying Jesus.
So here’s the simple answer to your question. We will meet again in person when it is not only the safe thing to do but the wise thing to do as well. Please understand that the Gospel message of Jesus is not just about spiritual matters but redeeming and restoring you mentally, physically, financially, etc.
This means as a pastor I must not only help you in spiritual matters, but should lead, guide and protect you in all the other areas as well. So, with that said, your health and safety are important to me.
So, the key question will be when is it wise from a health perspective to reassemble us together without jeopardizing people’s health? Nothing will take precedence over that. Nothing. Not our concern for finances; Not our misplaced ideas of “strong faith”; and certainly not our buying into these crazy conspiracy theories that suggest somebody is trying to attack and/or close our churches.
If the fire department comes into our church building during the middle of a Worship Experience and tells us that we must disperse because there is a gas leak – we will disperse! And the fire department is not trying to deny us our God-given right to assemble. They are just trying to keep us safe. This is what is happening now as our government and healthcare experts are wrestling with this pandemic.
This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about our first amendment rights. This is about the health and safety of our citizens. Nothing more. Please ignore the crazy Facebook posts and YouTube videos that push an agenda of fear-mongering and propaganda about conspiracy theories.
Now, when we do open, the concerns for safety will still not be over. There will still be many safety procedures and practices in place designed to protect you and others who attend. I have mentioned some of these on our Thursday night Zoom calls. They will not be fun. They will be inconvenient. These safety procedures and practices will be in place for some time. Some will remain in place for a few weeks. Some for a few months. We will continue to be vigilant on this until we get a vaccine or the preponderance of evidence from our healthcare experts is that we can go back to something more like we had be accustomed to. But until that day comes, please be prepared to adjust to this new reality.
I do not want anyone to be surprised by these safety practices and procedures. Again, let me reiterate. They will be inconvenient. They may even be annoying. If you feel tempted to ignore these guidelines, please read, and re-read again, Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
If you continue reading in Philippians 2, you will see that our “attitude should be like that of Jesus Christ.” Jesus, himself, had certain rights and privileges. But he did not hold onto those rights. He did not demand those rights. Instead, he laid aside his own rights and privileges so that OTHERS might benefit.
So here is where the other part of being wise comes in. In light of the above, does it make sense to jump through all these hoops and open up the building if very few of you are even going to come to the building anyway?
I’ve been following this closely and right now churches who have “re-opened” are reporting about only 33% of normal attendance. So again, the question must be asked, “Is it wise to go through all the hoops and inconvenience and added workload and potential health risks if very few people are going to participate? Or would it be wiser to keep going as we have been for another few weeks or months until the “all clear” has been given and people feel comfortable gathering in larger groups, in close proximity.
To help us get a feel for where you stand on this, we’ve created the following survey for you to take. It will take about 3 minutes to complete and will help us to gauge what you’re feeling and what your future intentions are.
CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FHHZ7CQ
Thanks for participating and thanks for your continued prayers as we try to make wise decisions.
P.S. A great suggestion has been made that we make Monday, June 1st a day of prayer and fasting about this decision. So please join us on that day with committing that day to seeking God’s direction. If you need help with this, see the section on fasting on our church web-site. https://exponential.church/tools-for-growth/