COVID-19 Update from Randy - May 22
Dear Gateway family,
I wanted to update you as to where we are right now as we deal with the Coronavirus pandemic and specifically Gateway. We have created a Reentry Task Force that has begun work on the hows and whys of re-entry. This process will involve multiple phases, and each phase will be triggered by certain criteria and events. We have begun laying out the phases. In laying out both the phases and criteria, as the Body of Christ we have to be concerned for not only what any one individual would prefer but also what is best for the entire Body and keeps people safe, regardless of their own personal beliefs about the current pandemic situation.
However, even before the Reentry Task Force moved into the actual process, we felt it was important to ask the bigger "Why?" question - Why do we believe Corporate Worship is important, especially as compared to online worship. I think this is an important question, grounded in Scriptural practice, and it has value not only now but in the future as we encounter more and more folks in our culture who may settle for online worship as their norm. Let me be clear that we will be offering online worship for the foreseeable future, as we have been, both prior to this pandemic, and, of course, during it. In addition, our worship and tech arts teams have "upped our game" with high quality experiences. Those who elect in the short-term to continue watching online, because of health and safety reasons, will want and even expect that we continue to offer a quality worship experience, even when we're able to gather together in some manner for worship. We will continue to offer online experiences even after the pandemic is over, but our primary target congregation once we get to that point (as it was before the pandemic) will be those who are sick, traveling, or checking us out before attending in person. To be clear why attending in person has value to the spiritual experience of an individual, that helps them become more like Jesus, even more than watching online, the re-entry team drafted the following:
The Why’s behind returning to Corporate Worship as soon as it’s safe to do so:
We want to encounter God’s Spirit with one another in a corporate setting, which cannot be experienced in the same way during an online worship service.
- We want to offer hope to one another, as God intended through physical touch, encouragement and face-to-face interactions in community.
- We serve one another on Sunday mornings as we live out our purpose and exercise the different parts of the Body of Christ to all ages.
- We want Gateway to be an open door for those who are not saved by leading them to accept Christ and become more like Jesus.
We know this is a time where many feel isolated, alone or discouraged. So, let’s be the church and make sacrifices for one another to unleash God’s love!
The Task Force plans to work as quickly as possible, however, we do not want to sacrifice doing what is right for speed. We want time to listen to the best medical advice, the recommendations of various governmental bodies, and, most of all, the leading of the Holy Spirit. I can tell you that we are starting to see some isolated instances where a church began meeting, and not long afterward a significant group of that church was exposed to the Coronavirus. While there will never be a perfect way to protect everyone, we intend to be careful - the lives and livelihoods of our church family and community could be affected by the decisions we make. At the same time, many people are looking for the personal touch that corporate worship offers, as we spelled out above, and so we will be seeking the best balance we can, with God's help, to offer the best opportunities to worship our great God.
God bless you and your families!