As of April 13th, we are now at 31 days and 5 Sundays when we have not been able to meet in person as the gathered church due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, we are all anxious to see life return to a sense of normal. Continue to pray for wisdom for local, state, and national leaders who have decisions to make for the well-being of people. Pray for medical workers who are potentially in harm’s way. Pray for all who are sick and for those who have lost loved ones.
We are reminded that the church is made up of people who have been redeemed by Jesus, and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. The physical location of the church is where we assemble to function as the gathered body in worship, prayer, teaching, giving, and encouraging one another. While the location where we meet is not ultimate, it is important (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our church understands the importance of gathering for these purposes as well as living out our faith where we are, and where we go.
I have concerns about the follow-up to all of this, as is relates to churches. I believe there can be a spiritual awakening. God has done it before and can do it again. So many people have been faced with their own mortality through the crisis that is will cause a lot of people to ask questions. Many people have grown in their faith in this time of testing and learned a lot about themselves and God. I believe there can also be a falling away. After weeks on end of people not able to go to the public gathering of the church, some who are spiritually complacent could determine it’s not all that important. Be on guard against this. Be a part of the awakening, not the falling away.
Here are a few updates about Cross Lanes Baptist Church to encourage you.
Our church family is staying engaged in worship. We have maintained a consistent rhythm of Sunday morning worship on live stream and on-demand after, along with a Wednesday evening Facebook live time of prayer and Bible study. Media engagement numbers are a bit tricky to interpret, and we always want to be as accurate as possible in communicating the response. It is conservatively safe to say we have more people engaging consistently online at this time than are typically present when we are in person. Our goal is to provide quality content that is easy to follow, yet at the same time, we do not want to overwhelm you. Thankfully we were already making use of technology effectively before the crisis so we could strategically navigate it.
Our church family is staying connected through small groups. Each adult small group has chosen to connect at different times and in different ways online. They have been given the freedom to do so. Communication and ministry are continuing. Other gatherings are taking place online through discipleship groups and so forth. The student ministry is meeting online weekly and there are children’s opportunities.
Our church family is ministering to one another. You are consistently contacting each other. Small groups are keeping up with each other. The Pastoral Staff and Administrative Staff are keeping up with people. Our Deacons have been working to keep in touch with the church family as much as possible for prayer and encouragement.
Our church family is giving faithfully. We are currently meeting our financial goals because of your generosity. Your giving is truly remarkable compared to what many other churches are experiencing. The ministry and mission of the church are moving forward. We could not do so if it were not for your faithful giving. We were already set up for online giving before this and many of you utilize it regularly. Thank you to all who are mailing in your giving also. If you are more comfortable mailing your giving in, we encourage you to continue. We are seeking creative ministry opportunities to refocus some of our resources for increased ministry impact.
Our church family is sharing the Gospel. I was encouraged by those of you who took part in #testifyclbc. I am also hearing from many of you who have seen spiritual doors open, to communicate with people about eternal matters in ways you have not had the same opportunities before.
How long will we be in this phase? I refer to it as “the endurance phase.” The accurate answer is, we don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows for certain. The opinions, data, messaging, and guidelines change almost daily. We know for sure we are in the current phase through the end of April. Even then, my thoughts are we will see a progressive return to normal after that date. Particularly since we live in an at-risk state with our population. I do not see any scenario in which large public gatherings will be encouraged by May 1st. We will adjust what we are doing as a church accordingly and follow the health-guidelines for our county, state, and nation. I think this will require continued creativity even as we move into the summer months. We will act out of faith and not fear, and we will proceed in a way that is best for our church family.
Thanks be to God that the current approach we are taking is working. It is not ideal, but it is effective. The church is staying together even though we are physically apart. Hang in there, better days are coming! Let’s try to learn what God wants to teach us for His glory and our good.