Weekly Update - May 14
Meeting as a Congregation
It has been a whirlwind of activity in our county over the last week, of which I am sure many of you have been hearing.
Jackson County has amended their restrictions of church gatherings, to allow churches to accommodate 10% of the facility occupancy (for those larger than 10,000 sq feet), meaning, we would be allowed to accommodate 152 people.
Our goal is to accommodate the vast majority of our congregation in worship at one time. At the present restriction, this is not possible. For convictional and practical reasons, we are not planning to offer multiple small venues. Our goal in traversing the restrictions is not merely to provide multiple venues within our facility from which small groups may view a service, but to accommodate the congregation in one gathering from which we can all participate as the body of Christ, carrying out the biblical priorities of a gathered assembly. Assuming the next Phase allows a greater number of people, we hope to accommodate the vast majority of the church.
Until that time, we will continue offering in-home worship suggestions and provide our teaching through video streaming.
Meeting in Small Groups
As the restrictions are lifting, we encourage you to consider meeting in smaller groups. In-home gatherings remain restricted to 10 people during the current re-opening phase. In the next week the elders will be discussing what accommodating larger groups at the church facility could look like (i.e., GSM small groups, Titus 2, Ironmen, and possibly some Growth Groups). As you would expect, careful thought and planning are required for us to move forward with allowing our members to use the church facility.
The Office is Open
Staff began working from the church office again this week and can accommodate small meetings and walk-in guests, as we continue to follow appropriate physical distancing guidelines.
We Praise God for You
Our congregation has been a tremendous blessing to be a part of during these days. Hearing stories of your service, meeting with many of you through video conferencing, praying, studying, encouraging, counseling, and assisting one another. We thank God for your expressions of love and care.
The Battle is Won First in Our Minds
While our spiritual life is more than what we think, how we live is often connected to how we feel, and how we feel is definitely tied to the way we think. For some, anxiety is not an issue. In fact, things are going so well and at such an easy pace compared to our pre-COVID environment, you won’t be disappointed with a few more months. I’m thankful for those who are finding a laid back peaceful time like this beneficial. A question for those in this situation would be, “Are you growing in your communion with Christ? Are you thriving at an accelerated pace in your affections for the things of the Lord? Are you stretching yourself to care for those who are in a very different place than you are? Are you involved in encouraging, discipling, praying for, and investing in others?” If not, or if you are at a sluggish pace in these things, realize, that is fundamentally a thinking problem. God hasn’t ordained these days for you to regress in spiritual fervor. It would be the quiet hiss of our enemy that says that the slower pace of present life should be applied to what stokes your heart’s affections for Christ. How we think about these days governs much of what we are feeling and how we are acting. Perhaps you need to activate a more robust biblical mindset, so that you feel more of the weight of need to grow deeper in Christ and more faithful to others. You may need to consider how to stimulate your thinking in more biblically saturated ways, rather than merely pragmatically driven responses to the present easy course.
For others, to even breathe the word “easy” during these days infuriates you. You are worried. You are worried about the virus, your job, your family, your bills, your way of living, and . . . well, the list could go on an on. This also is a thinking problem. God has ordained these days of challenge for your good. Perhaps to wean you from elements of this earth. Perhaps to reorient your affections to what is eternal more than the temporal. Perhaps God has ordained these days to clearly communicate to you that you are not in control. You cannot secretly manage your insecurities. You cannot be defined by your job, your ability to produce, your position of perceived influence, or your ability to think you are in control of your surroundings. God may in fact be weaning of us most everything – even good things, to remind of what is most important – himself, his Son, his grace, true faith, his Word, his people, and his glory.
Spend a moment meditating on Philippians 4:4-9. Dwell on the commands and consider the specifics of how they are playing out in your situation. Linger on the implications of the encouragements. Consider in writing what thinking on the things of verse 8 would look like in your particular environment of life. Who are the examples in your life of God-centered thinking and living and how can you emulate their faith? Who in your life isn’t enjoying the fruit of these verses? Take some time by text, phone, video, or even meeting in person to encourage them. Perhaps you are not even aware of how others are doing. This would be a good time to find out. They may need you. You might find that you need them too.
God has brought us into these days. God wants us to reflect him and his Word and true fellowship with Christ. Let’s be known more for that than anything else.