By Pastor Dan Clemens
There is something important about the church coming together in person, face to face… even if that face may have a mask on it.
The Bible encourages us to be together and to be with one another.
The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Several important points for us in our situation.
1. Hold on to your hope! We will get through this, and we will get through this together. Our strength in is God’s Word and in God’s People. We need each other!
2. We need to encourage one another! We do this through prayer, and phone calls and emails and cards… but I need encouragement with skin on it! I love hearing your voice! I need to look into your eyes! It moves me to be a better person. It reminds me that I belong to the family of God.
3. We need to worship together. I don’t like singing with a mask on, but it’s better than not singing at all! I need to be together to hear and celebrate the presence of God in the midst of His people. It’s just not the same sitting at home and watching the screen.
4. The DAY is COMING! We are living in unusual times, abnormal times. I believe the Lord is coming again, and I believe we could be in the birth pains, or even full-blown labor of the last days. I need to be with God’s people to get ready, to get focused on things that matter most, and to study for my final exam!
So, here’s an UPDATE and a look at regathering.
Regarding the Fall and future plans, I am proceeding under the assumption that we are going to be in a COVID-19 safety protocol environment until early 2021. We should have completed most of the remodeling by the first of October and have most of our facilities back for use.
With that said, we should move slowly and with small steps. Our people have been very helpful and willing to adapt to the COVID safety measures we have been following, and I am grateful. We have been able together and reduce risk of infection. We must keep it up and not let down our guard. The virus has struck some of our church families and their families. We must remain vigilant.
We are worshiping in-person at 10:30 a.m., alternating our worship leaders and I really do not see that changing for the rest of the year unless we begin to have more than 150 people in the sanctuary at once. We are averaging about 110 so far.
Groups are starting to meet in a distanced setting with masks. The Berean Bible Fellowship has begun meeting from 9:15-10:15 a.m. and that seems to be going well. First Student Ministries has been meeting on Wednesday evenings. Our boards are meeting in-person. A ladies Bible Study is meeting during the week.
We all know outdoor is safer than indoor, and larger indoor rooms are better than smaller. As groups choose to meet in-person, I encourage smaller groups of 10 or 12 over larger groups of 20 or 30. Find ways to come together again!
Several groups continue to meet virtually, and I am so glad they have committed to stay connected with one another. We will continue our streaming worship, and Sunday and Wednesday evening Bible studies, and our radio message Sunday at 9:30 on 1450AM WMOH.
Our children’s ministry has been very active with social media and also doorstep visits and gifts. We are planning to slowly start children's ministry with worship at 10:30 starting Oct. 4, and a Trunk-or-Treat Harvest Party on Friday evening October 30.
I do not foresee choir starting again until the spring 2021 at the earliest. We MAY be able to have an Easter Cantata, but we will have to wait and see. There will have to be a vaccine before choral singing comes back. What I am hearing is not to expect widespread vaccinations until mid-2021. We must plan accordingly.
We are starting the 2021 budget process. The economy has definitely been affected by the limits of the COVID environment and fear and the disruption of our normal lives. Thank you for your faithfulness to the mission of First Baptist and the continual commitments and expenses that are ongoing during this time. The tithe is the Lord’s in good times and difficult times. Many of our folks have been so faithful! Thank you!
These are the times we must find ways to be the Church of Jesus Christ together and in our community. We need one another to stay spiritually focused and healthy. We need each other to spur one another on toward love and good deeds and to encourage one another! Let us recommit to one another as we move into the Fall and into another season of living in COVID. Be a witness as we see the Day coming!
I love you in Jesus,