Romans 13:1–7 (NASB95)
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Our elders met last night to discuss what our church should do in the near future with the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. We know that there are a lot of strong opinions out there regarding the virus, transmission, cures, statistics on death rate, wearing masks, social distancing, etc. Certainly there is a lot of frustration with churchgoers when massive crowds are allowed (encouraged) to gather in the streets to protest while churches are told not to meet indoors. We know that livestream is not the same as meeting in person, and we miss each other and long to be together in worship. We are grateful for your patience and your prayer support as we seek the Lord as to the best way to lead our congregation during these times and with the changing restrictions. We would ask that if you have questions or concerns about any decisions the elders make that you would speak to one of the elders about it. We would be glad to answer your questions, listen to your suggestions, etc.
The responses by church leadership across the country to restrictions imposed in different locations has been varied. Godly, Christ-honoring, Scripture-obeying church leaders have come to vastly different conclusions as to what is best for their congregations at this time. Some have decided that they will continue with livestream and won’t even think about in person worship services again until January 2021. Some have decided to meet outdoors. Some have decided to practice varying levels of civil disobedience and meet in violation of some or all of the current restrictions. We believe those elders have the responsibility before God to do what is best for their congregations just as we have the responsibility to shepherd the precious people of The Bridge.
Although the current restrictions are frustrating, we do not believe we are being told to disobey any clear commands of Scripture. The restrictions imposed do not impact our theology or our philosophy of ministry, they simply impact our methodology. We are still able to pray, counsel, encourage, teach, preach, sing, and evangelize. No one is telling us to change the content of our message; they are asking us to change our methodology for a period of time until it is safe to resume our former practices.
At this time, there are no restrictions on size or singing if we meet outdoors. We asked you to fill out a survey and of the 194 families that filled it out, 108 said they for sure were willing to meet outdoors while 43 were not willing and 43 were not sure. In the survey comments, a large number said they were fine with continuing the livestream service on Sunday morning until it is safe for everyone to come back and be together at one time indoors. Some expressed concern that if we attempted to livestream an outdoor service it would add to some of the technical challenges we have already faced indoors.
Having read through all the comments, the elders decided to do the following for the near future until restrictions change. This will begin on Sunday, August 9th:
Sunday, 9:00am – continue with livestream only of English worship service
Sunday, 6:00pm – have an in person, outdoor worship service with no size limitation, following current CDC protocols (masks & social distancing). Normally it will be the same message as delivered on Sunday morning. Music may or may not be the same as Sunday morning. We will experiment with different ways to livestream outdoors and see if we can do it with a quality equal to what we are doing indoors. We will send out more details about the Sunday evening service next week.
The first Sunday evening service on August 9th will be a special Communion Service. There will be worship songs, special music, a message, and partaking of communion together. For this one service, the message on Sunday morning (James) will be different than the one on Sunday night (communion).
We sincerely hope that a large number of you will join us on Sunday evenings so we can sing praises to the Lord and encourage each other to remain steadfast to Him during these difficult times. For those of you who can’t make it (for any reason), we hope you will continue to watch the livestream on Sunday morning or the archive of that service some other time during the week. If you have any questions, please call me at the church office or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to answer your questions.
On another note, our outreach director, Mika Kaltoft, will be sending out details of some specific outreaches we will be doing this summer and fall. Some very practical things are being planned to minister to our local police, homeless shelters, Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic, needy people in the community, and Angel Tree. We look forward to blessing our community in practical ways and sharing the good news of Jesus at the same time.
We are grateful for your commitment to this church family. Thank you for your prayers, participation with livestream and Zoom classes, sacrificial giving, and personal involvement in each other’s lives. It is a privilege to serve alongside you.