Re-Launch-June 6 and 7?
It has been an unusual three months. None of us knew in February, that life was about to profoundly change in a few weeks, and at a level not seen in our nation (and the world) for quite some time. The many changes were so significant, as one commentator said, 'historians will be talking about this time for centuries. Life as we knew it may never return, but that isn't all bad. Some things were rediscovered that were lost, things we needed to rediscover, such as our dependence on God, the importance of family and of loving our neighbor.'
I pray he is right.
Now, we are in a position to finally start moving toward 'relaunch,' as a church. What we want to do is to maximize this opportunity (and it is an opportunity and a gift) to relaunch in a way that glorifies God by doing those things and being those things as God's people that we see in Scripture, that are primary, necessary and 'first things,' (Christ's priorities for His people), and not wasting so much time on secondary and tertiary issues.
For us to move forward, we must have certain attitudes: first, as always, all things for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), not us, not any person, not any group-but His glory alone. Related: we are to do all things as an ultimate love expression for our Great God (the Greatest Commandment) and as an expression of His love to one another and our lost neighbors (the second greatest commandment). And, we must earnestly pursue love and unity in the body. It is impossible to walk through the pastoral epistles and not see the primacy of this.
Jesus Himself said: 'by this, all men will know you are my disciples-if you love one another.' (John 13:35).
Love requires patience and perseverance, kindness and bearing with one another. It does not seek its own way (1 Cor 13:1-13). In the days in which we live, we see a culture divided along so many lines concerning all things related to Covid-19 and how we should and should not respond. On one end of the spectrum are those who see everything as an overblown conspiracy or unwarranted paranoia. On the other end of the spectrum we see people who are genuinely nervous that a major spike will happen approximately 14 days after the state of Texas 'reopened,' or, 14 days after Memorial Day weekend, or that a major second wave will hit in the fall.
No one knows. Wisdom requires us to walk humbly and graciously together, not like those who do not know Christ .
I am reminded of the Florida man I read about who refused to wear a face mask. He is a professing Christian. He believed most all of this response was paranoia and unwarranted. 'It's just the basic flu.'
Not only did he wind up in the hospital with Covid-19, but his wife did as well. As of this writing she is on a respirator. He said his words to others: 'I know if she does not make it, I will see her in heaven. I was wrong. I should have taken it more seriously. I'll live with this the rest of my life. I know God will forgive me, but...'
That is a crushing weight to carry.
We all have opinions on what is and is not the severity of Covid-19, but love compels us to walk together as God's people in love while we are in this 'transitional' phase. We will learn much about what will happen (or not) this summer. We will have another transitional phase in the fall, seeing if it returns. Only God knows. Scientists and virologists and infectious disease doctors much wiser than me disagree on the data. That requires humility on our part.
So, moving forward, to move forward, we will walk in love together, patiently with each other, understanding the responsibility we have to one another (Romans 14) not to mention to our community.
Second, this relaunch requires returning to first things as it relates to how a church functions. We are a body-all interconnected. Not one part can say to the other 'I don't need you.' All parts are needed and for a body to function in a healthy manner, all parts must work together (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12-27; Eph 3:6; Eph 4:15-16; Colossians 1:18; 1:24). All of us (if saved) are saved into community and all of us who are saved are gifted and saved to serve together.
Relaunch requires all of us working together-everyone having a role. The days of churches 'settling' for 20-40% of the people doing 80% of the work are over, at least for Stonebridge. We have been unbelievably blessed in that a very high percentage of our people serve in one way or another. The new expectation for us all moving forward, is that all of us will have a way we are serving. This is biblical. Out with the cultural model of churches being set up to appeal to consumers. We are the body-and we must in the grace He provides, function as that body, for His glory and the edification of the saints.
And lastly, we must make sure we stay focused on His agendas: the Great Commission, equippping the saints, worship, prayer, missions, serving...His Kingdom business. This is our opportunity to be the most uncommon of churches in that we seek to more closely align to what is clearly revealed in Scripture, and to be the church together, for His glory and purposes.
For the many who have been watching our services online, if you feel led to visit us, or to join with us, know that this is who we are, our ethos and our prayer, where we are going, by God's grace. What we seek to be.
God has and still is being so good to us. He is using this church profoundly-not because of who we are, but because it pleases Him. Now we move to a transitional phase, and we pray that means a June 6, 7 relaunch date (Sat and Sun service-possibly two Sunday services), but for that to happen, we must all be focused on those things that are ultimate.
What an opportunity! I pray, for His glory and for the blessing of many, that this is how we return. I am encouraged by the comments I receive. I believe the Lord is doing a special work to prepare us.
Stay in prayer. Stay tuned. You'll be hearing from your deacons soon, and more communiques will be sent out on this site as well as our FB page, and via email.
One shot to 'relaunch.' Looking forward to what He has for us! May we journey well together for His glory!
Grace to You,