This is an exciting time for CBC. The Lord has blessed us in many ways, which I hope to further highlight in the weeks ahead. One of the great challenges and opportunities that lies before us is how we continue to regather together in corporate worship and smaller groups as we navigate the next stage of the Covid-19 epidemic. At the Family Gathering on Sunday, we shared an overview of our plan for the months ahead. I want to reiterate that plan below, with a couple of pastoral perspectives.
First, as we prayerfully worked though this plan, we considered many general factors, including but not limited to: 1) decreasing Covid positivity rates and cases; 2) increasing vaccination; 3) the real possibility of ‘herd immunity’ in the coming months; 4) likely increase in church attendance, especially as Easter approaches; 5) Johnson County mask mandate extending through March; 6) continuing hesitation of many to attend for fear of exposure or concern over the safe practices of others; 7) limited space and seating in our worship center if spacing practices are maintained; 8) our priority to maintain a safe worship environment; 9) our higher priority to engage the congregation in worship, knowing that long-term absence from congregation worship has spiritual ramifications; 10) and a desire to walk in unity as a church, while recognizing our many different and valid perspectives, that will require humility and cooperation on all parts, and clear leadership and communication through potential challenges and discomforts of gathering as one body.
In light of these and other priorities, we are proposing the following plan for corporate worship: 1) Our mask mandate, which requires masking while in the building (unless you are eating or singing/speaking from the front), will remain in effect through Easter Sunday (April 4th); 2) On April 11th, we will transition to “masks optional” assuming there are no significant spikes in cases, the positivity rates generally remain low (using 5% percent positivity rate as a benchmark, per Johnson County Covid Dashboard), and there continues to be no evidence or instance of significant Covid transmission from CBC gatherings; 3) Beginning Easter Sunday, we will move to two services on Sunday mornings (likely at 9am and 11am), in an effort to allow comfortable distancing in worship; 4) We will provide childcare during the second service; 5) We will continue to livestream at least one service; 6) During the summer months, we may worship outside in one service if necessary or desired; 7) Our transition to two services will likely last through the spring and maybe into summer, with our target being to move back to one service in the fall, with all normal ministries fully resumed.
As your pastor I ask you to note that all of these plans are tentative as always (see James 4:13-15). Seasons change and we must be flexible and adapt. Also, we anticipate this plan will be ideal for no one, but hope it is sensible to most. We do not live in ideal times, and there is no perfect proposal in a fallen world, that will guarantee comfort or even perfect physical health. Third, know that our heart is to lead our whole church into humble faithfulness, and our goal is to lead us all back into physically gathered worship, in the right time. We do not believe it is healthy to be isolated long-term, so we have a long-term goal in mind in gathering together. We hope to do that with care, wisdom, patience, sensitivity, and courage. Lastly, we ask that we all love one another well, and consider the well-being and good of the other. We believe the church is worth the discomfort and awkwardness of worshiping together, and more than that we know our Lord is worthy of any effort to honor and praise Him.
It strikes me that this next season of trying to do church together may be challenging for us all. Humility, patience, and selflessness will be required of each of us. The church of Jesus Christ, who laid down his own life for the sake of others, is no place for suspicion, judgmentalism, bitterness, or condescension. Let us walk in Christian love. And please talk to us as your leaders as to how we can lead in Christian love and conviction, which is our great aim. May you be blessed today, and may we all be lifted in the Lord as we look to Resurrection Sunday!