CHURCH LIFE IN THE DAYS OF COVID19
Greetings in the name of Jesus! I hope and pray that this finds you well and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wanted to write to you via the Courier and let you know where we are currently in our church’s response to the COVID19 pandemic. This is such a fluid situation, with things changing almost every day. In light of that reality, I want to address the following as your pastor along with our elders.
#1 – We are not in any type of panic or filled with fear.
God’s word says at least 365 times that we are not to fear. One particular passage I think is very good to read at this time.
Isaiah 8:11-14 For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 "It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. 14 "Then He shall become a sanctuary . . .
Note that these verses address two things. We are NOT to be caught up in the conspiracy theories of men. Second, we are not to fear the things that they fear. This is because the Lord of hosts is the One Who holds the place of our greatest respect, fear, and honor. What He says is more important than anything said in the world.
We are not afraid of this virus. We want to take wise precautions in regard to it – but the virus itself is not something to fear. If you are among the at-risk population, we encourage you to act according to wisdom for your best interests. If that means staying home and only participating in online activities we wholly and completely support you in that decision. If we can be of any help please let us know. We want to make available to anyone who is in an “at-risk” group our help in obtaining groceries, medicines, or getting to a Dr.’s appointment. We love you and want to help in any way that we can.
God is sovereign over the affairs of men – and all that is happening in our world is working toward His ultimate place – His eternal purpose. That purpose is to have all things come together in Christ at the end of this age. That brings us to our second point.
#2 – We know that God is Sovereign. That leads us to the following understanding of our current situation.
- God is sovereign – therefore we can know this did not catch Him by surprise. He will use this according to His eternal purposes in Christ.
- God is sovereign – He is over all things – yet – He does want us to act according to wisdom. We might want to note that in the Old Testament Law – there was a process for quarantining illnesses that were particularly virulent. Think about that before you criticize current efforts to stem the spread of this new virus.
- God is sovereign – He is over all things – and yet – He desires for us to obey the governing authorities (Romans 13). We are planning on doing this during the public health crisis. We are being asked to forego gathering in groups of more than 10 due to the public health risk (especially to the highest “at risk” categories – such as those over 60 and those with compromised immune systems).
- God is sovereign and has saved us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The worst enemy in all of this is death. Yet our Lord has conquered death – so we do not fear it. At the absolute worst some may die in this health crisis – but for us this will mean we are ushered into God’s presence in heaven. We do not want anyone to die – but for us this is not an ultimate disaster. It is reality, because no one gets out of this life alive. Yet our Lord has conquered death and hell and the grave. Hallelujah!
#3 – Acting WITHOUT fear and under God’s Sovereignty and Wisdom we will respond to the current COVID19 Health Crisis in the following ways.
- Sunday Services will continue at 10:45 a.m. each Sunday morning. The way we will do this until April 15th is via Facebook live. We will also record our messages as always, and they will be available by Tuesday of the following week online at our Website.
- We’ve purchased the ability to do group meetings via the Zoom app. Thus, we will continue to have our Prayer meetings on Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00 p.m. The time change here is to allow people to eat supper beforehand.
- There will be other service times via the Zoom app. Each elder has this capability and will be offering something to their Community Groups through it. We are also working on additional ways to meet for encouragement and teaching/worship via Zoom.
- In order for you to participate in these meetings, you will need to go to your app store (Both Apple and Android have this app) and download it. There will be links posted at Facebook for meetings – or if you want a link regularly, you can call the office and be put on a text link for them as well.
- The elders and I have met and approved a plan for Calvary Chapel Meetings in the future called, “TEN or LESS” meetings. Due to the length of the document for this, I will post a link for it at our website www.calvarychapeljonesboro.org This document describes the protocol we will use for a meeting to be held at the church or to be church sponsored. The protocol was developed seeking to adhere to the best counsel we could find. It seeks to provide for the best way to provide for the public health at these meetings.
- Starting this coming Monday, I will also be teaching an online Bible Study through the book of Philippians each day on Facebook live. This was the letter Paul wrote from prison (where he was also locked up – not due to a virus though).
- The last thing we are currently seeking to put into place is a re-vitalization of our “Little Flocks.” These are groups of people and families that are assigned to our elders. We will publish these via either a text or an email (for privacy protection). This will give you a specific elder to call if you have problems we can help address.
This health crisis will pass, saints. We need to cooperate so that it won’t ravage the “at-risk” people in our community – or – over whelm the medical community who are working to help address it. We hope and pray that these steps will help us maintain and grow our fellowship and love for our Lord and one another in the days and weeks to come.
One last thing I want to announce. Our offices will be open for their usual hours. If you want to talk to someone – or know someone who needs to speak with a pastor because of fear or an awareness that they are not ready to meet God – we will be here to talk to them. We are also there to offer counsel and prayer – and as always – answers from the Word of God.
God bless you – and we love you!
Pastor John and the Elders of Calvary Chapel
Calvary TEN or LESS Meetings
If you want to have an “authorized” Calvary Chapel “TEN or LESS” meeting, we ask that you do the following:
- Due to the current public Health guidelines we’ve been asked to not gather in groups of more than 10 people. While we are in the midst of this crisis we are taking the following steps to provide a means to fellowship with one another. We are calling this our Calvary TEN or LESS meeting. It has the following protocols, which have been put into place so that we can help with maintaining good public health practices.
- These groups will be limited to 10 or less people
- If you are currently sick (fever, sneezing or coughing regularly) please do not attend until you are over your current sickness.
- The HOST of the meeting will sanitize all handles and surfaces that are normally touched when people come over. (This includes all door handles, all handles and light switches in the bathroom, and any surface on which food might be served).
- When people arrive, they must immediately go to the restroom or a sink and wash their hands with soap and hot water. (we also encourage hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes to be available).
- If you have to cough or sneeze, please do so into a kleenex or your elbow. (Afterward please rewash your hands – especially if you cough or sneeze into them).
- Social distancing will be practiced – maintaining 3 to 6 feet between people. We do not encourage hand shaking, etc. (one way we can acknowledge one another in love is to practice the oriental way of greeting/honoring one another – by bowing graciously toward them and greeting them in love)
IF FOOD IS SERVED . . .
- All food is to be covered when brought to a meeting.
- One person will serve everyone – and wear plastic gloves when serving them.
- All food is to be eaten on paper plates with plastic ware used – so that all items on which a person has eaten or drank can be discarded afterward.
- All surfaces on which people eat need to be sanitized before and after eating.
We know this sounds a little excessive. We are not doing this because we are in a panic, but rather to promote the best public health possible in the midst of the pandemic.