MDC Update: March 18
March 18, 2020
Dear Missio Dei Church family.
With the spread of COVID-19, the Session and Deacons of Missio Dei met together last night for four hours to sit under God's Word, pray, learn, discuss and discern, and make decisions for the good of our family and others around us. We believe that it is wise to continue following the presidential and gubernatorial guidelines of avoiding gatherings of more than ten people. Because of this, we will have no gatherings on site until such time that the CDC's gathering ban has changed. At this point, the CDC has stated that gatherings of 50 or more people should be put on hold for eight weeks.
We believe that this decision protects and even saves the most vulnerable lives not just in our church but in the Lincolnway area that we love. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 68 asks, What is required in the sixth commandment? Answer? The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others. Our not meeting together works towards preserving the lives of others.
We are still laboring to make sure that Christ is being formed in you (Gal 4:19) during this unique time. Here is our plan (which of course can change in a moment's notice):
- Sunday Message: Listening to or watching a message online will be a substitute for the special graces that we experience when the body of Christ gathers on Sunday mornings. However, during this unique time, we will do our best to maintain our worship. A sermon will be recorded each week and loaded to YouTube. A link will be sent to you so you can view it on the Lord’s Day. You will also find a link worship songs to sing to and a PDF with song lyrics. I will be working towards creating a few discussion questions as well.
- Additional Gatherings: All ministry gatherings (men, women, outreach and youth ministries) outside of Sunday worship are suspended. Missional Communities may be creative in how they “gather” but are encouraged to not physically meet. Text, call, use Zoom or any other creative tool to keep connected.
- Shepherding Groups: The Apostle Peter exhorts the elders to "shepherd the flock of God that is among you" (1 Peter 5:2). Because of that each one you has been assigned to a Shepherding Group (SG) which has at least one elder and one deacon. I have attached the master shepherding list so that if you have any spiritual, emotional, or financial needs, you can reach out to the appropriate elder/deacon.
- Prayer Post: Also, be on the lookout for a "Prayers of the People" post in the Realm which will be used to share prayer requests concerning health, finances, uncertainties during this time, lack of work, etc. The elders and deacons will be monitoring this post regularly.
- Growth Opportunities: Lastly, we will be providing you with various opportunities for growth. Some may be free, some come in the form of books (ebook or physical), and some may be helpful articles to read. As you are hunkered down in the safety of your home, use the time to nurture your faith and create a hunger for meeting once again in worship with your brother and sisters.
We hope it won’t be long before we can gather again at our facility. Until then, we want to do everything we can to encourage each other.
"May grace and peace be multiplied to you." (1 Peter 1:2)
Yours in Christ and in prayer,
Saturday, March 14
Brothers and Sisters,
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the elders will be suspending our worship service at the building for this week. We will reassess each week.
In these trying times, we encourage everyone to stay connected to God through his Word and prayer. We also encourage you to stay connected to His people through phone calls, video chats and text, and your missional community.
Let me encourage you as we move forward to faithfully, courageously, and wisely love others. As C.S. Lewis wrote:
“The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things - praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts - not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”
Remember that God is always faithful and His providence will carry us through this season.
Yours in Christ and in prayer,
Friday, March 13, 2020
Missio Dei Church,
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1) — whether spiritual, financial, emotional, relational, or physical. This is crucial to keep at the forefront of our hearts amidst the unfolding outbreak of the Covid-19 Coronavirus in our area. Our God reigns and nothing happens outside his loving, wise, and good sovereign reach—even disease and death (Dt. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; Job 1:20-21; Ja. 4:13-16).
Cultivating a Godward perspective grounds our hope and gives us confident poise as we seek to be wise (James 1:5-6; Matthew 10:16) amidst a world subjected to futility, longing to be set free from its corruption (Romans 8:20). Therefore, we will not fear (Isaiah 41:10). This is not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last (e.g. H1N1/Swine flu, Avian flu, Ebola, MERS, SARS) until the Lord ushers in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1-4).
But, until then, we must find the wisest, most prudential path forward when faced with a world gone awry. The Elders thought it would be helpful to send a brief note prior to our Sunday gathering. At this point, we are still planning to gather and continue our series through 2 Corinthians unless circumstances change dramatically.
WHY WE SHOULD GATHER
The regular gathering of Jesus’ people to sing, pray, and preeminently sit under God’s Word is the most important means of grace in a Christian’s life. The word for church in Greek literally means “assembly, or congregation.” In Christ, we now belong to Jesus’ people, universal and local. That means Sunday is the one time during the week where we get to physically live out this shared identity. Therefore, gathering on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, has been integral to Jesus’ people from the very beginning.
WHEN YOU/WE SHOULD NOT TO GATHER
The reality is that not gathering, when there is uncertainty surrounding our community, could very well be a decision that protects and even saves the most vulnerable lives not just in our church but in the Lincolnway area that we love. Know that we still believe in the primacy of corporate worship, and that’s not changing.
People who are at higher risk of illness may want to consider ways to lower their risk of infection by limiting contact with crowds, including those: (1) over 60 years old, or (2) with underlying health conditions such as heart disease and lung disease, or (3) with weakened immune systems, or (4) pregnant. If you, or a family member, has a cough, fever, or other respiratory difficulties, we encourage you to refrain from participating in any church-related activity until you are fever-free for 24 hours. If you become sick with the Coronavirus, please notify us immediately.
Remaining home under such circumstances is not evidence of a lack of faith, but prudential wisdom.
A TEMPORARY SOLUTION (LIVE STREAMING)
In light of the present circumstance, we will be looking into a temporary live-streaming option for our gathering. While we don’t believe merely viewing a church gathering online constitutes “gathering” with the church, it is better than non-attendance or listening to a recorded sermon later. We will evaluate the extent to which we will continue to offer this option as the situation develops.
WHEN WE GATHER
Therefore, here are a few notes for when we gather this Sunday:
- Don’t give in to fear, just be smart.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
- Work on your elbow-bump or foot-tap welcome (!)
- We will not have a designated meet-and-greet.
To our members and the greater community, you do not have to join us this Sunday. But, to quote the late James Boice, “To all who are weary and seek rest; to all who mourn and long for comfort; to all who struggle and desire victory; to all who sin and need a Savior; and to whoever will come…,” Missio Dei Church opens wide her doors and offers welcome in the name of Jesus Christ.
For Christ, the Gospel, and His Church,
(From the Children's Ministry Leaders)
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Dear Missio Dei Family,
As children’s ministry leaders, we’ve wrestled with what the best protocols are for nursery and Kids Crossing in light of everything happening with Coronavirus. Keeping our kids safe while also maintaining a sense of normalcy for them at church is important to us. We’ve wrestled with where the line of being intentionally cautious and overly panicked falls.
Molly and I both began this discussion with full intentions of moving forward in continuing with nursery and Kids Crossing this coming Sunday while taking special precautions with washing hands and toys, but after seeing the announcement from Governor Pritzker regarding the closing of schools and speaking with the elders, we believe it’s in Missio Dei’s best interest to suspend children’s ministry related activities on Sunday mornings. Moving forward, we plan to use school closures like this as the marker of what to do on a Sunday morning.
So what does this mean for Sunday?
No formal nursery or Kids Crossing will be offered. However, the nursery will be available should your child need a place to take a break. We’re just asking that you help us out and wipe down any toys that your child touches with a Lysol wipe after they are finished playing. They will be available in the nursery. ***Please refrain from using the nursery if you, your child, or anyone in your family is experiencing any runny nose, cough, or other sick symptoms. ***
We will also have a coloring/activity sheet available for your child to use during the service. Our encouragement is for you to have your child participate in the singing at the beginning of the service like normal and utilize the coloring sheet during the sermon when they would typically go upstairs. Feel free to bring colors and pencils to church with you!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Molly, myself, or an elder with questions. This was a difficult decision for us to make and we know that it impacts your church experience.