It has been a challenging week for all of us as we have had to navigate fears and frustrations in these unprecedented times. The Coronavirus COVID-19 has had an impact on seemingly every arena of our lives including church. As GBC leaders, we have tried to wisely consider the best path forward. When the NBA suspended its season, I thought, “Woah, that is going to be a costly decision, but it is just money.” When the NCAA cancelled the basketball tournament, I thought, “That must be disappointing for those students and fans, but it’s just basketball.” When schools decided to take a few weeks off, I thought, “That is going to be tough on some families, but it is just education.” Ultimately, how TRULY necessary is the NBA? March Madness? OR even the 4th grade?
Church on the other hand…
Church is much more than the NBA or March Madness or even school. Church is the family of God where we are gathered, grown, cared for, encouraged and where we serve one another. Church isn’t just a nice option, it is ESSENTIAL! Church is family, and we need family.
Watch for more communication, but this is what we know now………….
Since the beginning of the week, as a staff, we have been making preparations. We have been ordering more hand sanitizer stations, encouraging waves rather than handshakes, re-cleaning heavily touched areas like the backs of the pews, postponing the pizza dinner, ordering individual communion servings etc. All of this has been done assuming that we were going to continue to meet this Sunday as a large gathering. However, as more information has come out, it has become clearer that for the next 3 weeks (Mar 15, 22, and 29), the best course of action is to suspend the larger face to face group-based ministries of GBC: e.g. the youth ministry, GraceKids, men’s and women’s Bible studies etc. We have also decided that it is best to NOT gather as a large group these Sundays for corporate worship. Instead, we are working on a church service video for this Sunday that you will be able to find on our website and social media, and we are brainstorming other creative ways to keep growing and learning together throughout the week. Also, we would encourage you to meet in smaller groups… whether it is in your grace group or family assuming that people are not exhibiting any cold/flu/Coronavirus symptoms. We are still working out all the details and will be re-evaluating along the way and alerting you if things should change.
So, does this mean that “church” is cancelled?
We will not be meeting in large groups for the next 3 Sundays. However, this does NOT mean that “church” is cancelled. Church is NOT an event. Church is the family of God, growing, loving, learning and serving together. We will continue to BE the church even when we are not AT the church building.
When will Sunday gatherings and other programming resume exactly?
Although the current plan is to not meet as a large group for the next 3 Sundays, we will be closely monitoring the situation, consulting with the church staff, elders and local health authorities. We will also continue to look to our brothers and sisters in churches in Asia and Italy who have already been through this situation and have figured out how best to conduct larger gatherings while following strict health protocols. We will work to implement these protocols and resume our larger Sunday gatherings as soon as possible!
Wait, so I am just supposed to “watch” church on my computer/phone every week?
No one is meant to live their lives in isolation, and church is not a video. Although these next weeks will pose some unique challenges, we also think there will be tremendous opportunities to really care for and encourage one another. Assuming that people are healthy, not in the at risk population and are comfortable meeting in smaller groups. we want to encourage small groups to meet together regularly perhaps even on Sunday mornings to watch the video together. Let’s BE the church together!
I am not in a small group.
We desire for everyone who attends GBC on the weekends, to be involved in a small group and/or a volunteer team of some sort. If you are, do not hesitate to reach out to family, friends, fellow volunteers, group members etc. with your needs. For those of you who are not connected to any group, know that the church offices will be open next week Tues - Thurs 9am-4pm . Please let us know if you have some need that we can help meet. Feel free to respond to this email or call the church office during business hours with your concerns. We will do our very best to make sure you aren’t left out there on your own!
How can we help our community?
We are brainstorming some ideas related to serving our neighbors, health care professionals and local ministry partners. We are alert and beginning to make contact with organizations and individuals that we trust and may be able to partner with in the days to come.
Doesn’t the Bible say something about neglecting to meet together?
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
This is a powerful passage, and it holds extremely poignant challenges for us. We must hold fast to the confession of Christ! We must seek to encourage one another and do good works! We must not allow fear to keep us from caring for and growing together! Although we will not be meeting together as a large group this Sunday, we are committed to helping facilitate gathering together in smaller groups, and we are working hard to get us back together as a large group soon!
But I have so many more questions.
Us too! HA. We are figuring things out as we go, but know this: Our God is good! He is so good that He can use any situation- even the death of Jesus- to bring life. I believe that God is doing something truly unique in this time. He is teaching us what it means to love one another… what it means to speak hope to a hurting world… what it means to have peace amidst much anxiety. The Holy Spirit is on the move, and I am thankful that we get to be part of what He is doing.
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful!
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