I know many of you are eagerly looking forward to being able to worship again together in person on Sunday mornings. I also know the very idea raises a host of questions and concerns:
When is it safe?
Can I trust other people to practice appropriate social distancing?
Even if I’m careful, what about my kids?
What if I’m in a high-risk category because of age or an underlying medical condition and am leery of worshiping with a group of any size?
Suffice it to say, reopening our church as our governing authorities begin loosening public health restrictions is significantly more complicated than the original decision to close.
Our governor recently announced that congregations in RVA are allowed to meet at 50% of their building capacity starting May 15, albeit with significant limitations. The fact that we’re allowed to do something, however, doesn’t mean we should rush into it quickly. As the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
We’ve been praying and working hard the last few days to determine what walking in love entails for our congregation. Our first priority must never be, “What do I want?” It must always be, “What will build up the body of Christ?” Putting the interest of others ahead of our own isn’t optional. It’s what Jesus did for us and we are called to join him in the same.
Here are the biblical principles we’re committed to applying as your elders:
- Protecting You – We take seriously our responsibility as leaders to guard every member of our church from spiritual and physical harm, especially those who are most weak and vulnerable.
- Modeling Humility – We are not experts in virology. We thank God for the wisdom he has given public health officials and continue to lean into their counsel.
- Trusting God – No matter how we proceed, there will be risks. The providence of God in all circumstances remains our firm foundation. That doesn’t mean we throw caution to the wind, but it does mean we walk by faith, not fear, and rest in his sovereign care even when none of our options are ideal.
- Pursuing Unity – We get to show the world how Jesus enables people from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives on controversial issues can live together as one. We don’t want to reopen in such a way that half the church is satisfied, and the other half is mortified.
Expect to receive a video update from me next week outlining our plan for reopening our church as we prepare to head into the summer. Please pray for wisdom! There is no shortage of opinions out there on what’s best. It’s good to remember none of us have navigated these waters before. We’re all learning as we go. We’re also confident the Lord will help us as we carefully decide how to proceed.
Our building and offices remain closed this weekend, and we will continue to live stream Sunday morning. I hope all of you will join me on the other end of the camera as we continue our series, “A Faith That Works,” from the book of James.
Grace & peace,