FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020
It was at some point in mid-to-late-March that I came to the realization that there was no Ministering During a Pandemic course when I was a student in Bible College. In many ways, this has been one of the toughest times of ministry for me personally. Hard to see people suffering; tough to hear about so much heartache. But it’s also been difficult because everyone is learning what COVID-19 is and how this coronavirus functions. Because of that, it’s been exactly the type of situation that everyone is saying it is: fluid.
Since we’ve been moving from a day-to-day / service-to-service decision making basis into a month-to-month mode, trying to gauge what to do next has been—again—tough. This will be a longer update than usual and I hope you see why as you continue to read through it. Part of this update will ALSO INCLUDE A SHIFT IN OUR SERVICE TIMES ON SUNDAY MORNINGS.
On Monday afternoon, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson provided guidelines / guidances for places of worship. CLICK HERE if you’d like to listen to his update. (By the way, if you just read that very short article, you’ll only see part of the list he outlines in the three minute video.) On Tuesday evening this week, I was able to meet with our board of directors, our elders, and our head deacon to talk through each of these guidances to see how feasible each of these—and all of this as a whole—would be for our fellowship. By the conclusion of our meeting, we realized that though we might be able to return to being in the same building, we wouldn’t really be doing much for “meeting” let alone meeting TOGETHER based on those guidelines.
Before we get any further I’d like to add this important detail to the statement that we as the leadership team of Calvary Chapel in the Ozarks are offering: none of our decisions are fear-based. We’re not afraid. We’re not operating from a position of dread. No, we are simply trying to find the balance of what’s going to be best for us as a fellowship while we remain cautious, conscientious, and careful in ministering to our congregation during this crisis. We are not afraid of death—it has lost its sting by way of the victory we have in Jesus Christ. HAVING SAID THAT, since this crisis is serious enough to WARRANT A HIGH DEGREE OF PRECAUTIONS, we simply don’t want to be placing anyone in harm’s way unnecessarily. While we long for heaven, we're not going to foolishly court danger.
The decision we reached is this: since the guidances set before us are unrealistic for what we do as a fellowship and how we do what we do, we’re going to set our TARGET DATE for returning to Sunday morning worship as MAY 24th. Simply put, we want to be closer to the point of all of us returning together rather than in an unrealistic, super-limited capacity for our fellowship.
That said, here are four important notes concerning this TARGET DATE of SUNDAY, MAY 24th:
- Stay tuned for further updates
- we’re very interested in how things further develop over the next week or two,
- assuming we’re able to return on the 24th, we’re going to need a small team to thoroughly clean, disinfect, and sanitize our building before we meet together for corporate worship,
- we’re going to need to put schedules in place for various serving teams moving forward.
- Wednesday evening Bible studies are likely to start before Sunday mornings do
- with our Wednesday evenings consisting of a smaller group, it will be easier to see what works, and what won’t work for our fellowship
- we’ll keep you posted for that, too, but our TARGET DATE for returning to WEDNESDAY EVENING STUDIES is MAY 20th.
- Sunday Morning Service times will be adjusted
- Due to several different factors (some related to this current situation, and some not at all related), we feel it best to move our Sunday Worship Service times to 9:00 & 11:00am.
- We’re in the middle of some bigger ticket types of projects in our building
- as a fairly interesting development, we’ve been able to tackle some bigger projects in the building during this time of lockdown,
- one of these projects is updating the floor in the building,
- this would have potentially required us at some point in the future (virus or otherwise) to cancel/relocate a service or two while this project was happening
- IF YOU’RE INTERESTED, we’re going to need a few volunteers for this as well (email our church office if you'd like to help: email@example.com).
I’d also like to make a few other things clear about what our return to meeting together under the same roof at 413 East Walnut will look like:
- Firstly, while the wearing of masks has been recommended to us, the decision to do so or to not do so will be up to you. You won’t be turned away at the door if you wear one or don’t wear one.
- We also have a great “problem” as a fellowship that is seen at every service—particularly during the greeting time: we love each other too much! (Ok, “problem” was an attempt at humor.) Since that’s the case, plenty of our folks enjoy hugging one another, shaking hands, high-fives, etc, etc, etc. Out of courtesy, we’re hoping that grace is shown there, too. If you’re a hugger, please make an attempt to read body language: don’t hug someone who does not want to receive a hug. And I'm serious about that, too.
- Our kitchenette will also be a “lockdown” area in the church. In order to better maintain sanitation standards, we’re going to restrict access to the kitchenette to those directly involved (and scheduled) for the coffee ministry.
Last but not least, if you do not yet feel comfortable returning with us on the 24th, there’s grace for you, too! No one will look down upon you: mask / no mask, hugs / no hugs, attending in-person / watching online, extra cautious / ready to get back to normal. We’ll find a balance to all of this, but—as I said at the beginning of this—everything is fluid. We’re hoping for more information.
Of course, let’s be clear on another element of all this: if you’ve developed symptoms of COVID-19, watch our services online and get to a doctor for a test! AND/HOWEVER, if you’d like for the elders of the church to pray for you in accordance with James 5:14, LET US KNOW. We’ll be happy to set up a time to do just that.
If you made it this far into this longer-than-usual update, thank you. Keep your eyes open for more information. Stay in the Word. Stay close to Jesus. Pray for our leadership team here at CCO. Pray for one another. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have a prayer need or a practical need. Please know that you’re love and missed. We can’t hardly wait to see everyone again—target dates of May 20th (7:00pm) and the 24th (9:00 & 11:00am)!
On behalf of CCO’s leadership team, tons of blessing to you.