Dear Church Family,
By God’s design according to God’s Word, the church thrives on gathering together face-to-face as we love one another, care for one another, and encourage one another by doing things like singing songs of worship and digging into and responding to God’s word. As much as we are thankful for technology that allows for us to do some of these things online, a biblical picture of a church prioritizes being together in person. This is why Christians around the world gather together every single Sunday at the risk of their lives. If they are caught, they will be persecuted, potentially imprisoned, and possibly even killed. But it’s worth it to them because this is what it means to be the church. These brothers and sisters in Christ have much to teach us about the value of prioritizing and physically being together as a church family.
At the same time, the reasons above concerning why we normally gather in person are the same reasons why we are choosing not to gather in person right now. Because the Bible calls us to care for one another and love one another (and all our neighbors) as ourselves, we believe the best way we can do that in light of the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is by not gathering as usual.
This does not mean we are closing the activities of the church. The opposite is true. We want to encourage the members of our church to reach out to one another and consider alternate means for staying as biblically and closely connected to one another as possible during this time. In addition, we want to encourage you to be in touch with the folks around you, where you live, with kindness and concern in this time of potential fear and need. It may be that you can do something tangible to help them, and also offer prayer and heartfelt care. You can be one who trusts in our Lord in the midst of uncomfortable, odd and unsettling changes. We worship Jesus because He is the hope of our world. This “small” test is reminder of precisely why we need and love Him!
We will be offering ways we can still “gather” for worship. You might have friends in the church or a neighbor you want to gather with for worship [a group of 10 or smaller]. We will seek to have worship music and a sermon for you to partake in. You can also in your own setting have a time of prayer and worship. This might include real sharing of how you are doing, encouragement and testimonies, even singing. Now is a time we can creatively and intentionally worship with and encourage one another in ways that will bring personal growth. In some sense we can connect with the early Christians who worshiped in small groups in their homes.
This is an opportunity that stands before us, let us embrace its meaning and purpose! In the midst of a global pandemic, we want to be a clear picture of God’s love and hope across the communities our church represents.
Pastor Joe, Pastor Jeff and the Elders of Pine Valley Community Church