Hello church, I hope you are all doing well! These are indeed trying and difficult times, but the Lord is good to us and He will guide us through the remainder of this covid-19 season. I want you all to know how much it does my heart good to see you at our “Drive-In Service” each Sunday morning. If you haven’t joined us in the parking lot yet, I would love for you to come and worship with us. We have moved the time for this service back to 10:00 each Sunday morning.
Right now, churches across Arkansas are wrestling with the decision of when to open back up, and in what capacity. Some have already begun to have limited services, while others are holding off for a few more weeks. I have struggled to know what is best for Antioch West, and have been seeking insight from several sources in our church and from our community. The numbers of Covid-19 infections in Columbia County remains low, just 15 cases as of this writing, but has been on an upward trend for the past several weeks. The big question in our area is, “Will this mostly pass us by completely, or is our county just beginning to be affected?” I honestly do not know the answer to that question.
Would we take from one to give to another?
One thing that I do know is that the majority of our congregation is in a demographic that is most susceptible to infection. I am learning that many of our members in this group would not attend a regular Sunday worship service if we were to resume them at this time. However, some of these are attending our “Drive-In Service” in the parking lot. That puts us in a position of making a rather awkward choice. Do we take the outside service away from one group so we can give an indoor service to another group?
The Apostle Paul said, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
These verses tell us a lot about how we should make decisions that affect our whole congregation. First, it tells us that our love should be genuine. The love that is referenced here is not merely an affectionate kind of love, but it is a self-sacrificing and giving kind of love. The second ‘love’ reference in this passage does indicate a familial kind of love, such as the love you may have for your mother or brother. This kind of love causes us to seek another person’s good above other concerns. Giving and receiving this kind of love helps us to “be patient in tribulation”, which is exactly what the church needs right now. I believe we have a duty to show great honor to our members who are most concerned about the corona virus.
Where do we go from here?
For the moment, I believe our best course of action is to continue meeting in our parking lot and online. Heeding Paul’s admonition to “never be wise in your own sight”, I have talked with other ministry leaders, health care workers, and church members in coming to this conclusion. We will watch week by week to determine when we may be able to meet together again in a regular service. We are also formulating a plan of action for that time. We are now studying the Department of Health guidelines for churches, as well as consulting with local health care professionals. We have begun collecting sanitation and cleaning supplies, and we will have a plan to thoroughly disinfect our building before each service. When that time comes, we will likely begin with a single Sunday morning service, and add other services over time as covid-19 concerns dissipate.
I know that this has been a difficult time for our church, but I also know the Lord has a perfect plan for us as His church. If you are able to join us in the parking lot at 10 am on Sundays, please do so. It is not only good for us individually, but it’s also good for others that you are there. As I said, it does my heart good to see each of you. Your presence also encourages others in our church, especially those who may only venture out from their homes for this service.