Alliance Bible Church,
We as your elders and pastors are continually evaluating when the most appropriate time to return to worshipping in our building will be. As we process, we want to continue communicating with you our current plan.
1) We want to continue encouraging all of you - stay engaged in this strange season:
Give a phone call to a brother or sister just to say hi and let them know you’re thinking about them.
Write a note of encouragement to a brother or sister.
Reach out to your neighbors, check on them, offer to help – let your light shine before the world!
Pray for our church and your community as the effects of this crisis still continue to be felt.
2) We want to let you know the most immediate next step we will be taking.
Our clearest next goal is sometime in early June to begin livestreaming from the church building. Given your responses to last week’s survey on top of the options we have available to us, it became clear that this is the best next step for us to take.
The joy of this is that we get to see more faces and have music played, songs led, scripture read, and prayers prayed by many who are in our congregation. We would still have an online service with a chat room, but everything would take place in one video “box” on the worship service webpage.
It’s also clear that we are reaching and interacting with guests on Sunday mornings and engaging with new people in our online format. We want to continue reinforcing that platform as one place of engagement that we will continue to utilize on the other side of this crisis.
3) We are constantly evaluating and collecting information on when the best time to reopen our building will be.
We are in the process of planning how we will do this safely and in a way that best serves the people of Alliance Bible Church. We also understand that there could be questions about how we are going about making these decisions. Because we know there are questions, we have put together a description of what is behind our decision-making processes. You can read that description below. At the same time, we want you all to know that if you have any questions or concerns, we are available to discuss and listen, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
How do our elders and pastors make decisions about our response to the Covid-19 outbreak?
The world is watching the way Christians respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. From shelter in place and social distancing orders to trusting God through it all, Bartlett is watching our response. What we choose to do and how we face the challenges will obviously affect people in terms of health but, it will also affect the reputation of Christ in our community and, possibly influence how some people will respond to the Gospel. Therefore, our decisions must be carefully made.
As Christians, our first obligation is to God, to walk according to His precepts laid out in His Word. One of those precepts is that governments are appointed by God for our good and we are to honor the laws of our land so that we might live peaceably. These two paragraphs are summed up by Paul: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1–4)
How, then, do our elders and pastors make decisions about our response?
First, we remember that our government officials have specific roles – they represent the citizens of our country, protect and defend the Constitution and are accountable to God and the voters. As Christians, we also have specific roles – we are to nurture our own souls from God’s Word, learning how to represent God and protect and defend the faith and, we are accountable to God and to one another (Col. 1:10). Additionally, as your elders and pastors, we must give an account for how we watch over your souls (Heb. 13:7).
Second, we remember that we as elders and pastors are to lead you in ways that “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
Third, we remember that Jesus identified two commandments that summarize and support all the Law and Prophets - “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matt. 22:36–40) One of the consistent characteristics of our decision-making conversations is a key concern for the well-being of everyone who worships with Alliance Bible Church. Additionally, we recognize that our decisions around how and when we gather for worship in this season matter not only for you individually, but also those in your spheres of influence. We love the people of this church, we love our community, and that love helps us recognize the gravity of these decisions.
Fourth, we remember that God has told us several times in His Word that wisdom is found in hearing many counselors. Our primary counselor is God’s Word, after that, the Holy Spirit, the advice of other Christians, common sense, specialists and government officials, etc.
In making decisions that affect anything we do at Alliance Bible Church the elders and pastors consider:
· God’s plan for the Church and our congregation’s role in fulfilling our part of it.
· What it means to love God and our neighbors.
· Behavior that brings Him honor.
· The counsel of many counselors, including government officials.
When it comes to how we will respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak, including how we will transition back to holding public services and ministries in our building, your elders and pastors are constantly praying for God’s guidance, studying His Word, learning about the current situation, seeking input from many counselors, exploring many options and regularly meeting together to seek God’s direction and share our findings and judgments.
Please continue to pray for us and for our neighbors and government officials.
The ABC Elders and Pastors
Pastor Alex: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastor Don: email@example.com
Garth Xander: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Mileusnich: email@example.com
Phil Jupp: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nik Poferl: email@example.com