As new information about COVID-19 continues to come to light, we as a church are seeking to respond in accordance with the unchanging truth of God’s Word. Because of the uniqueness of these circumstances, knowing how to apply God’s Word to this situation is a challenge that we are facing with prayer, discussion, and unity as an elder board. Last night at our meeting we charted a way forward in the coming weeks.
First, we want to emphasize to everyone the importance of church unity during this time. Emotions are running high, and it is all too easy to think the worst of our brothers and sisters in Christ who might differ from us in their opinion of how believers should respond to this virus. As an elder board, we want to encourage everyone to love one another by showing patience and believing all things toward one another. We will not all agree on how and when to resume the ministries of the church. We will not all agree on how many feet apart we should stand or whether a mask is best practice or an unnecessary inconvenience. And since Scripture does not speak to these issues with clear commands or prohibitions, we can love one another with our different preferences and opinions about these and other issues related to this ongoing situation. Let’s endeavor to show preference to one another in honor during these times.
With that mindset, the elders have prayerfully determined the following course of action for resuming our life together as a church family.
Home groups are free to resume meeting in person immediately. They are not required to do so, and we are neither encouraging nor discouraging a particular course of action for any one group. Each home group leader will communicate with his group to determine what is best for that particular group. If you have questions about what your group intends to do, please speak with your home group leader.
This plan for home groups also extends to other small group meetings and ministries, such as women’s Bible studies, men’s prayer breakfasts, young adults, student ministries, etc. The leaders of each small group or ministry will work with their group to determine how and when to resume meeting in person. For questions, please contact the ministry coordinator or small group leader.
Vacation Bible School will proceed on June 8-12 as planned, with necessary precautions added to protect the health of the children, parents, and volunteers. Online registration will go live this week.
Prayer meetings will resume meeting in person on June 7 at 6pm in the Worship Center.
Adult fellowship groups and children’s Sunday school classes will resume at 9am on June 7.
The nursery will not open any sooner than May 17, but the opening date is yet to be determined. We hope to have an update for you on the nursery in the next week or so.
I had planned a Wednesday night study beginning in June in the Fellowship Hall. The study covers the biblical topic of eschatology, which is the study of the last things. This study will proceed in June as planned, meeting at 6:30pm on June 3 and weekly through the end of August. Childcare is not provided for this study. Registration will go online soon so I know how many books to print for the participants. Look for that in the next week or so!
Our Sunday morning service will continue through May as we have done the past several weeks, with no offering plates passed (giving is available in the boxes at the back of the worship center auditorium), the Lord’s Supper distributed around the auditorium and each family going to get the elements rather than having them passed on a tray, no greeters or printed bulletin (though you can download a pdf of the bulletin each week on our website), and encouraging physical distancing according to the CDC guidelines. We encourage those who are high risk to livestream the service from home or take extra precautions if attending in person. We also ask that anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of illness, especially a fever, stay home from all church events until they have been symptom free for 48 hours.
We realize that this plan will not suit everyone’s preferences. Some people will think we are being too aggressive and not taking the virus seriously enough, while others will think we are being too conservative and waiting too long to restart various ministries. We ask for your understanding that this is a difficult situation that requires decisive leadership that cannot please everyone. To that end, we encourage you to attend or stay home according to the dictates of your conscience as you study God’s Word and prayerfully consider what is best – both spiritually and physically – for your family. No one should be condemned for staying home or for attending in person. Our hope is that we have found a biblical response that allows freedom of conscience both for those who are convinced they should gather in person for worship and fellowship and for those who are convinced they should not.
If you have feedback or concerns about the elders’ decision, we welcome your comments via email. You also can call any of us to discuss these concerns over the phone, or we are open to meeting in person with those who would like to discuss in that format.
Thank you for your continued prayers for us and your faithful support of Desert Hills Bible Church. We are so privileged to shepherd you through this season. We are praying for you and available to you during this time to help or encourage you in any way we can. The deacons also stand by ready to assist in whatever way they are able. We love you and look forward to all being together again in God’s wise providence.
Pastor Robb on behalf of the Desert Hills Bible Church Elders