I trust this finds you well. I wanted to share a few thoughts we prepare to regather on August 23rd at 10:30.
Why are we meeting face to face?
We place a high value on meeting together. The church is a called out people who gather together. Author Jonathan Leeman notes:
We gather in order to represent heaven’s rule and judgments, establish a visible outpost of Christ’s kingdom, testify to the King, identify citizens of the kingdom, form a people, mobilize a people, and exalt the King.
Gathering together edifies us as we come together as the visible expression of God’s called out people. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in 1 Thessalonians.
17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thes 2:17-20)
Paul told the church, “I want to see you face to face. Yes, we are united in heart, but physically torn apart.” He could have sent letters. He wanted to send himself. Maybe you’re thinking, “But James, come on! We’re in a pandemic! Think about the risks!” We have prayerfully considered the risks. We don’t come back together flippantly. Even in returning, we’re committed to prayerfully move forward with wisdom.
What can I expect?
On Sunday, August 23rd we are regathering inside at Oehler Barn (http://oehlersbbq.com 4503 Ridge Rd in Charlotte). The barn is spacious (it can hold up to 2800 people) and allows us to socially distance. We will have an abbreviated time of worship, a shorter than typical message (20-25 minutes), prayer, and a few announcements. The service will be 35-40 minutes. There will be round tables that allow families to sit together. Right now there will not be typical children’s ministry. As we move forward, we will continue to examine our current structure and make appropriate and timely decisions. Think of this a couch to 5K training. We’re not running the full race on Sunday, August 23rd. We’re putting our shoes on and stretching.
How should I prepare?
- If you are sick we ask you to stay home and participate online.
- If you fall into a high risk category, prayerfully consider your risk and make an informed decision based on your comfort level. Please know worshipping online will be an ongoing option. Being lovers of Jesus and faithful to the CP family, we cannot imagine the difficult decision you’ve made. We fully respect your decision.
- When you come, please plan on social distancing. We understand everyone has a different comfort level here, but out of an abundance of caution, plan on keeping an appropriate distance from one another.
- When you are outside, masks are optional as you socially distance. We’re asking people to connect and have conversations outside.
- When we’re in the barn, we are encouraging people to wear a mask for the whole service. Again, we understand everyone has varying opinions on mask or no masks, but we’re erring on the side of caution. We believe this is a very small sacrifice for our brothers and sisters for the time being.
- As a church we are doing our best to follow wise practices. We are having our space cleaned before we meet, offering hand sanitizer and face masks, and are committed to socially distance in a space that is much larger than what we need.
- For more information on ways to protect yourself you can visit: https:// www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
To those who won’t be there on the 23rd…
You are loved. I understand every family situation is different. Some of you are caring for aging parents, others for immunocompromised kids, and still others are doing their very best to put on a brave face and put one foot in front of the other. I just want you to know that it’s more than okay—we respect the decision you’ve made in good conscience. We will continue meeting together online and are working on ways to increase our community with you until you are able to join us or until restrictions are greatly reduced. Watch. Listen. Pray. Take notes. Invite a friend as our church family continues to point people to Jesus!