Hello Grace Bible Church Family,
The spread and threat of COVID-19 is on everyone's minds right now. It is looking like it's going to temporarily change the ways people live their lives, including the ways we gather as a church. What it will not change is who we are as the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who our Savior is as King of Kings and Creator and Sustainer of this universe. This might be the first time we have faced something like this in our lifetime, but it is not the first time the church has faced a global pandemic. Whatever occurs in the coming months, the Lord is still with his church and promises to sustain her through this.
After much prayer and discussion and in an effort to love our neighbors and our church family well, here is how the Elders have determined to move forward at this time:
Sunday Gatherings: Starting this Sunday we will be moving to an online service at 10:30am. You can find the link to the livestream on our Facebook page or Website. This is a temporary solution to a new challenge and while less than ideal, it will help us show love to the most vulnerable to this disease by limiting exposure and being united in our virtual gathering. This will last until the ban on large gatherings is lifted by our state and local officials.
Community Groups: At this time we think the most prudent thing to do is to limit as much exposure as possible and so we are asking CG's to not meet in person, but to be creative in staying connected through the tools we have with technology. This was the most difficult decision, but it was done through conversations with medical professionals who advised us how we could best help prevent further spread in our community.
Student Ministries: Student ministries will not be meeting for the next four weeks. Andrew is working on creative ways to continue the discipleship of our students and more details will be sent out soon.
Because we are not meeting in person it is even more crucial that during this time we stay connected in whatever other ways we can. It is also important that we take this time to serve one another and those who are hurting in our community. If you are in need of anything, please email us at [email protected]
Here are a few things we must remember during this time.
1. Our hope is not in this world: Our hope has never been in this decaying world and it never will be. Our hope is in the Creator and Sustainer of this world who will one day make all things new again (Rev. 21:5)! It is in times like this that we are reminded how dependent we really are on our Creator, and how fleeting this world really is. Let's set our eyes on Jesus.
2. We represent Jesus to a watching world: The church is to be different in all things, including how it responds to a global pandemic. We can see this as a time to fear, or we can see this as an opportunity to show our watching neighbors who we are as followers of Jesus. This will be an opportunity to show our faith when it really matters. This will be an opportunity to love our neighbors in very tangible ways. This will be an opportunity to love and care for one another as the Lord has instructed us. As we live in selfless love, we will be the light God has called us to be.
3. The church is not a building, it is God's people: Throughout the life of our church, we have gathered at various locations in different seasons, and this has been a continual reminder that the church is not a building or a location, but rather the church is God's people. There may be times in the coming weeks that we are not able to gather all together in our building, but no matter where we meet or if we meet all together, we remain the church.
3. We need God's wisdom: While we do not want to live in fear, we do want to walk in wisdom. This means listening to the medical professionals and the guidance they give, obeying the rules of those placed in authority (Rom. 13), and determining how to best to show neighborly love as a church body. This requires a great amount of discernment and prayer. Each person as well as the leaders of the church will need to seek the Lord's direction and live out of the conscience that God has given us. We must also be careful not to question the conscience of another who does not feel the same way that we do. This is an opportunity for us to love the "weaker" brother and sister in Christ. Please pray that God would grant you wisdom as well as the leaders of the church.
4. The Lord is still in control: The reason we can walk by faith and not in fear is because our God rules and reigns, and nothing has changed that (Ps. 47)!
Psalm 47 (ESV)
1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. 3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. 4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. 5 God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!
Finally, I would encourage you with the words of the Apostle Paul to the church of Philippi:
Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Throughout her history, the church of Jesus Christ has gone though much worse than the Coronavirus and come out stronger in the end because of the testing of her faith (James 1:2-4). Let's take this as another opportunity to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
The Elders of Grace Bible Church of Bend