Dear Northway Church,

Many in our church are asking the question, “What are our plans to gather again for worship?” Perhaps you’ve seen information about other churches in our area and state making plans for public worship gatherings and are wondering when Northway will do the same.

Earlier this week, our Lead Ministry Team met (via Zoom) and discussed this issue at length. This was the main topic of our meeting, and every one of our nine members knew this would be the discussion. We all spent time during the week prior gathering information and praying for wisdom. We prayed together before we began our meeting. We spent nearly two hours discussing the situation we are facing and what we believe to be the best path forward.

The final conclusion was that it doesn’t seem prudent at this time to begin gathering again or to announce a date that this will happen. There is simply too much unknown right now. We discussed at length making plans for gathering in June; however, we would hate to announce this and then need to reverse course on this decision. Ultimately the decision was made to continue with our current ministry plan. This decision was not made quickly or flippantly. We want the ministry of the church to go forward while protecting the health of our members and community.

While this is the plan as of today, we are continuing to examine this issue each week. One thing this crisis has shown me is that our church is incredibly flexible and agile. In March, when we quickly adjusted our ministry, our congregation easily shifted to the new plan. I’m convinced that you will do the same in the future as we plan to reopen for worship.

For now, we are continuing our online worship services (both on Facebook and Vimeo), the email daily devotions, and having our small groups meet on online platforms. As an aside, I’ve also learned in this crisis that our church is quite savvy when it comes to technology.

During this time, there are several ways you can help our church and leadership:

We ask for grace. The word that has been used (perhaps overused) for this pandemic is unprecedented. There’s no guidebook or resource for us to use in how to manage this kind of crisis. Our Lead Ministry Team has committed this issue to prayer and the collective wisdom of our group. We’ve ask the Lord to guide us and we’ve gathered information from every available resource. We are fully aware that any decision made will likely receive criticism. Whenever we reopen, some will believe it to be too early while others will think we should’ve gathered together weeks earlier. Please know that we are truly seeking the path forward which both honors the Lord and protects the health of our members and community.

We ask for your support. Our membership has worked hard to continue the ministry of Northway during this time: Home Team leaders have taken the initiative to set up online meetings and Bible studies with their groups; FE and KIDS ministry leaders have done the same with their groups; there has been great participation in our assistance to the Salvation Army and Rescue Mission; we’ve seen members develop creative ways to share the love of Jesus with their neighbors; you’ve continued your financial support of the church during this time. I could list many other specific ways you’ve contributed to the ministry of our church, and we simply ask for you to continue. Stay plugged in. Check on one another. Pray for one another. Reach out to your neighbors and friends. Northway Church is not a building on Zebulon Road; it’s the members who are scattered throughout Middle Georgia. Please continue to be the church in our community.

We ask for your faithfulness. If you’re like me, you’re just getting a little tired of all of this. I want to plan for the future. This holding pattern is frustrating me. I even think this situation has caused my spiritual walk with the Lord to suffer. Several elements of my life that normally fill my spiritual tank are missing (worship gatherings being a key fuel source). Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar in your own life. Through all of this, I’ve been reminded of Paul’s encouragement to the Galatian church: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

We ask for your prayers. Place our church and leadership in your prayers as we seek the Lord’s will for this ministry. Pray for your staff to have wisdom, creativity, and patience as they continue the ministry in this environment. Pray for those in our faith community who are struggling with financial pressures, healthy issues, worry, loneliness, and other problems during this time. Pray that our ministry to our community will be even stronger on the other side of this crisis and that the gospel message will strongly impact Middle Georgia.

Thank you for taking the time to read these words. I hope you can sense the heart of your leadership in as we seek the best path forward.

I hope you and your family are doing well and staying well, and I truly look forward to being back with you soon!

Your Pastor,