Our Plan to Regather
Regathering at King Street Church
This text is from Pastor Jody’s recent article in the Messenger, on the topic of regathering:
In just a few short months (that in many ways seem like years!), COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and significantly impacted our entire world. The struggles we have all faced are very real and the grief we experience is undeniable. Much of that grief centers around our inability to meet in person with each other—our King Street church family. We deeply desire to gather again!
Having said that, I want to remind us that the Church never actually closed—just the doors to our buildings. We spent a lot of time last fall talking about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. One of the key truths about discipleship is that it is best learned in the midst of hardship and trial. It is in seasons of struggle that we learn to take our eyes off ourselves and place others’ needs ahead of our own. These past few months are requiring us to worship, pray, encourage, witness and serve in creative ways that minimize the risk of virus transmission. We’ve gone online, moved our L3 groups and Sunday school classes to video chats and found new ways to love our neighbors. We are still the people of God. WE—not our buildings—are the real church.
We are now entering a new phase of COVID-19 as restrictions loosen and businesses and churches begin to reopen. It’s certainly what we all want! However, regathering presents us as a church with an entirely new set of diffi cult decisions. WHEN do we regather? HOW do we accomplish it? WHAT does it look like to carry out our ministries safely and with genuine respect for others?
Pacing is so very important. And I believe the real temptation is to rush these decisions. I get it. Let’s get back to “normal” and the sooner the better! But it’s not so easy. We have to heed the regulations that are put in place by those in authority (many of these regulations are yet to be articulated as they apply to churches). We want to be very sensitive to those who are struggling with the virus and those who are caring for the sick. We need to honor one another in terms of personal comfort level and anxiety. As we look toward regathering again with eagerness and gladness of heart, we need to do so wisely.
Wisdom mandates that we be guided by FOUR COMMITMENTS with respect to regathering.
- Humility: Each of us have biases and opinions. I do and so do you. The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to move forward. We have to be mindful of our personal preferences and not allow them to negatively affect our ability to make wise decisions.
- Love: Jesus made it perfectly clear that the Christian life is not about ME. It’s about loving God and loving my neighbor (Mark 12:31). This certainly applies in how and when we reopen King Street and in-person ministries so that our actions help and don’t inadvertently cause harm.
- Persistence: We need to mentally approach the process of reopening as a “marathon”—not a “sprint”—by keeping a long-term view in mind. The goal is not to simply be together again and get back to some sense of “normal.” The goal (as it always is no matter what we’re facing in life) is to follow Jesus, grow as a disciple of His and lead others to Him.
- Wisdom: I can assure you that we are working hard to stay up-to-date on the latest information and findings about COVID-19. We’re tracking the number of local cases and consulting CDC interim guidance for faith communities as well as federal, state and local guidelines for guidance.
Hours and hours are being spent talking through the SPECIFICS of what regathering will entail for us at King Street. As residents of Pennsylvania—and Franklin County in specific—we are working to spell out plans and procedures first as we move into a “Yellow” phase and then as we move into “Green.” We will communicate these things widely once we get clear on them. We WANT to regather. We WANT to worship together. We WANT to once again live out the biblical call to “not give up meeting together” that we read in Hebrews 10:25. But we must also do it well, wisely, humbly and respectfully.
In the meanwhile, we daily ask Jesus to give us the grace to grow as a disciple of His. We pray. We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We anchor our hearts in the truth of His Word. We learn contentment, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. And we love others, just as we love ourselves.