I’m sure like me, what seems like every hour, you’re reading something or hearing something that is shocking. I can confidently say, I’m not afraid, I’m just in shock. This is certainly an unprecedented and historic time in our country.
As a church, this is also uncharted territory. We’ve had to cancel services for weather before, but we’ve never had so much uncertainty about being able to worship together.
We really appreciate your patience and understanding, as we prayerfully wrestle with what we should do. Pray for your government, medical, and spiritual leaders, and of course, everyone who has come in contact with COVID19.
Even if you disagree with the opinions and decisions of the government and medical professionals, and you’re angry about all the cancellations and inconveniences, please recognize that everyone is trying to do what could potentially help.
The truth is we will never know if our decision helped or not. If these cancellations help prevent the spread of the virus, we won’t know how bad it could’ve been. If they don’t help, we won’t know how bad it would’ve been. So we’re left doing the best we can do, making the best decisions we can make, and hoping they are the right ones.
Like you, I’ve spent the last several days chasing my thoughts down a myriad of rabbit trails. I don’t have time to type out all of them, but I do want to share a few of them.
1. You’re not less of a Christian because you’re concerned
It breaks my heart that some Christians are taking a “you shouldn’t be afraid/shouldn’t miss church/we’re not gonna let the devil win” mentality. That’s ridiculous. First of all, you are the church, so wherever you are is where the church is. More importantly, God is not bothered by your fear. Yes, the Bible says “do not fear” several hundred times, but not because God is chastising you. No, he is reminding you that you don’t have to be afraid. So if you’re feeling concerned or afraid or scared, you’re not any less faith-filled or any less of a Christian. You’re a human being. Abraham was afraid, Moses too. Joshua, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, the disciples, and on and on–they had fears too!.
2. Limit the noise in your life
I love to consume information, I mean I REALLY love it, but last night, I turned my phone off, because I just kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Do you know what I didn’t feel? More confidence. No, instead I felt more fear and frustration. Social media has provided rocket fuel to sarcasm and snark, so it doesn’t take long for you to lose your joy or any amount of peace you’ve found. Whether it’s social media, the news, certain friends or relatives, work hard to limit the things that steal your peace. Maybe consider turning off the phone this weekend and putting in a kitchen drawer.
3. Find the blessing in the bad news
I have to admit I was really bummed about March Madness being canceled, not to mention all the other sports, my kid’s sports seasons and school plays. I’m sure you’ve felt some disappointment too. It’s not just cancellations, it’s lower paychecks and real concerns about the sustainability of our businesses. But in the middle of all of this chaos and disappointment is an opportunity to do something our generation is not great at…. Nothing. When was the last time you had a few weeks with no ball games, appointments, or extracurricular activities? When’s the last time you could eat a meal around the table as a family 3 nights in a row? When’s the last time you got the board games out of the closet? I know parents still have to work. Life is not completely shut down, but it is slowed down enough, that if you will fight for it, this time can be a blessing and strengthen your family. Let me encourage you to not just binge NetFlix or stare at your phone. Play in the backyard, bake a cake, build a craft, assemble a puzzle. Do something that you probably haven’t been able to do in a long time: be together.
I honestly have no idea when we will be able to have corporate church services again. I hope it’s as soon as next week, but if not, our church we’ll be okay. The church is not a building; it’s people. Our staff is working really hard to figure out some short term solutions in the event our break is extended. We would love to be able to have a full worship service and get everyone together, but every government official is telling us that it’s the large gatherings that are potentially most dangerous for spreading the virus.
One last thing, if you’re reading this and you go to another church, let me share something with you about your pastor: they’ve got a thousand thoughts too. They’re thinking about people’s spiritual life, they’re contemplating people not coming back to church after this is all over. They’re worried about people with financial and medical needs, and they’re probably stressing a little bit about not having offerings, paying church bills, and a bunch of other stuff. Let me encourage you to do 3 things: (1) Pray for them. (2) Text them something encouraging. (3) Give online. They probably will be a little afraid to ask for that last one so I’ll do it for them. They love you.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing we can really do about any of this but try to stay prayerful and positive. We will keep communicating with you. I love you and I am praying for you. Keep your head up and on straight, everything is going to be okay.