The events of this past week have been something else, haven’t they? With the rapid escalation of preventative measures around the USA, we feel it wise and necessary to make some changes to our regular church schedule. In light of the recent prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people* and the advice to limit physical social interaction with other people, we will be canceling all of our church events until the situation changes. There is little that feels “normal” these days, and not gathering together at the building on Middle River Road will certainly feel unnatural. However, the elders and I believe at this point that this is the proper action.
With that in mind though, it is helpful to remember that “church” is not a building we meet at, a place where we go, or a service that we have once a week. We, the believers, are the church of God, and we can demonstrate this by the way we interact with one another and with the outside world, especially at a time like this.
Instead of meeting together physically, we will be transitioning some aspects of our corporate worship to a digital format. I recognize that many of you may have little or no internet access (or desire to use the internet), so we will seek to provide a video and audio recording of the Sunday sermon that will be available in a way that most of you can access. I will send out the specifics of this later in the week once we have the details figured out.
What happens next?
During this time that we are not meeting together physically, there are ways that we can show our true nature as believers. We can show our love for our neighbors and respect for authority by doing our part to keep our distance and slow the spread of the virus; or there may be situations that may arise which require us to show self-sacrifice instead of self-preservation. Specifically, here are several ways at this point we can use this time for God’s glory:
- Keep in touch with the 2 or 3 families who usually sit near you during the service. This could be a simple phone call, email, text, or letter to check in on them.
- Join the Lakeside Baptist Church FaceBook group. I have created a “closed” FaceBook group for our church, where we can share needs, prayer requests, encouragement, and the lessons God is teaching us through the coming weeks. As a “closed” group, information shared here will not be available publicly, but that also means that you will need approval or an invitation to join. You can request to join the group directly here or through the Lakeside Baptist Church FaceBook page. I will also send out regular emails to the church body to keep a sense of togetherness.
- Let us know if you are aware of unmet needs whether that be among your family, neighbors, or friends or for you personally; this may be in regards to groceries, supplies, help at home, anxiety, or financial struggles. For example, to those of you who are sick, quarantined, or are high risk of infection, we would be glad to bring you some supplies that you might be unable to get yourself. On the flip side, if you are willing to offer your assistance as needs arrive, please let me or one of the elders know.
- With changing schedules and many of our regular routines being discarded, this is an excellent time to start building some new habits or implement some spiritual changes. This may involve family Bible study and prayer, reading a book together, memorizing scripture, or writing letters to others. Be creative and redeem the time!
I’ll close with reminder of the comfort that comes from God, and the goal of sharing that comfort with others, found in 2 Corinthians 1
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
If I can be of any help to any of you, don’t hesitate to call or text anytime. My cell phone number is (715) 319-1618.
Love in Christ,
* As a church, we understand that our ultimate responsibility is to God. In this situation, the government's request is in protection of the most vulnerable in society and is not antagonistic toward the church. God has placed the government above us for our own good, and we are called to respect them, so long as they don't ask us to violate God's Word. We see the government's request to the health crisis as an opportunity to obey (Romans 13:1-7) and to care for our neighbors by doing our part to mitigate the spread of this virus.