Preparing for Reopening
I want to thank all of you who responded to the survey from the Elders. Your feedback was very helpful.
Here are the results from your brothers and sisters regarding when they feel comfortable returning to a modified form of gathered worship at our normal location (some answered as a household and some answered individually):
- Now: 51.7%
- Mid-June: 13.8%
- Mid or Late Summer: 13.8%
- Fall: 0%
- I don't know: 20.7%
This shows that the vast majority of you are ready or about ready to reengage in public worship. I, too, am ready to start meeting together in the very near future, however, not all of our brothers and sisters are in the same place as I am or may you are. When we do reopen our doors, we also need to come with a heart for each other. We need to be sensitive toward those who feel differently.
- If you are resistant to the request to wear a face mask during worship, will you out of love for your neighbor wear a mask?
- If a number of smaller children join us for worship and our worship gatherings become noisier and potentially more distracting than usual, will you out of love for our kids and their parents, be a supportive friend who sits next to them and encourages them?
- If someone wants to shake your hand or give you a hug, can you graciously say "I love you so much, but I am not feeling safe yet do touch"?
It is a great social and biblical experiment to see if we as a church can actually put into practice loving our neighbors as we ourselves would like to be loved!
In your spare time, I want to encourage you to read "Navigating Different COVID-19 Recovery Convictions" by Costi Hinn. He wrote, "Charles Smith wrote: “Prediction: one of the most challenging aspects of the #COVID19 recovery will be disagreements over acceptable post-COVID social norms between friends and family. Hurt feelings will abound if we’re not careful. Extend lots of grace. Everyone is different.” It is true, this is could be one of our most challenging times. Give it a read.
So, know that the Session is working diligently and wisely towards a plan that encourages as many who are ready to reopen in a safe way. As men who are entrusted with the care of a flock by the Good Shepherd and are called to be faithful to this task, we have many things to consider. You might just think that it is a simple decision. You know... just open up. Well, I am realizing that it was pretty easy to close our doors and make some quick adjustments, but trust me, there are no simple or quick decisions when it comes to reopening. There are multiple conversations taking place about how to do communion, congregational singing, sanitizing spaces, CDC and State of Illinois guidelines, live streaming, social distancing, kids ministries, helping our ministries adapt to the changes, conversations with the Village officials, our witness to the Village of Manhattan, our immediate neighbors, etc.
We hope to have more clear answers for you very soon, but in the meantime, would you pray for us as we make difficult decisions about when and how to re-open the local church?
If you have any questions, would you personally please reach out to Nathan Phillips or me? We would love to answer any questions or concerns that you might have.
Brothers and sisters, keep pressing on. Be worshiping with and encouraging one another in your missional communities. Be loving your neighbors in creative, Spirit-empowered ways. Be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Check-in with your brothers and sister via texts, phone calls, Zoom, Face time, etc.
With much love and affection,