This past Monday Governor Abbott announced that he would let the statewide stay-at-home order expire today commencing Phase One of his plan to open Texas. He has given permission for retailers, restaurants, malls, movie theaters, libraries, museums, parks, and churches to reopen tomorrow, May 1.
While we are truly grateful for the opportunity to regather as a church body and we know that many of you are eagerly anticipating being back at church, just because we have been given permission to meet in person doesn’t necessarily mean it is profitable for us to do so immediately (cf. 1 Cor. 10:23).
The Pastors/Elders met this week to prayerfully consider what would be the wisest course of action for reopening LBC. After weighing the spiritual benefits for our church and our community versus the health risks that are still in play and the social distancing guidelines that are still in place, we unanimously agreed that it would be best to slowly and carefully phase things back in starting with our “Sunday Worship Service” on May 17. Our reasoning is as follows:
- It appears we will be living with the presence of the coronavirus on some level for a long time. So we want to give ourselves adequate time to think through and plan for how we can practically provide those who attend LBC the safest experience possible. Also, our Media Team needs time to work through the technical challenges of starting back up our “in-person” service alongside our “upgraded" livestream service. Furthermore, waiting a couple weeks allows us to see how reopening other things affects the spread of the virus in our area.
- The primary motivation of The Governor’s Strike Force To Open Texas is to restart and revitalize the economy; to get retailers and restaurants back up and running and to get people back to work. Getting people back to their church buildings is obviously a good thing but not essential to dealing with the economic impact of this global crisis. Besides, large gatherings of Christians could potentially contribute to the spread of the coronavirus rather than us doing our part to mitigate it which is an important implication of striving to love our neighbors (cf. Mk. 12:31).
- Attending church involves a greater degree of personal interaction than going to Walmart or Kroger or Olive Garden. By God’s design church is a "fellowship factory" where people are used to greeting one another with handshakes and hugs, huddling up and catching up, having close, intimate conversations, and doing a whole lot of mingling and lingering. Consequently, it is going to be very difficult for all of us to abide by all the health protocols and safety precautions once we return to church.
- In regards to phasing back in other ministries, in light of the governor’s decision to keep schools closed for the duration of the school year, we think it is best for us not to provide any Children’s Ministry or Student Ministry programs/events until after June 1. That is when we normally transition to our summer semester of ministry in our church calendar so it seems like a more natural time to potentially start those ministries back up if things appear to be going in the right direction as a result of the governor’s three-phased plan to open Texas.
We are in the process of assembling a team of individuals from our church who can help us make sure we are properly prepared to safely serve you at our first “in-person” service on Sunday, May 17. Until then, we continue to trust that God has providentially ordained this “wilderness experience” to accomplish His good and perfect plans in our world and in our lives and in the life of our church. And we look forward to ministering to you via livestream the next two Sunday mornings.
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please reach out to one of our Pastors, Elders, or Grow Leaders.
Walking With You In The Wilderness,