This week I met with five medical doctors, all with different specializations. These individuals are strongly committed followers of Christ and members of Northway. In this meeting, we discussed the need to forge a path forward for our church that accomplishes two goals:
- To love our faith family and community well by establishing protocols to protect the physical safety of all who attend any worship event or other gatherings on our campus.
- To love our faith family and community well by offering opportunities for spiritual growth.
Before our meeting, I was concerned that this team of health care professionals would be tempted to focus too heavily on the first goal. I would’ve completely understood this approach. In their practices, they are intimately faced with the effects of this pandemic. Their mission every single day is to protect the health of their patients.
However, each of these individuals understand our need as a church to meet the spiritual needs of our congregation. While we want to love well by protecting the health of those who attend our church, we don’t want to do so at the peril of our spiritual lives. Or, as was better stated by Jesus himself, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). In other words, don’t be so concerned about your physical body that you ignore your spiritual needs.
In looking ahead to the beginning of fall, the promotion of our children and students to the next grade, schools beginning classes (either virtually or in-person), and our Home Teams beginning a new semester, we knew we needed to forge a path forward for our church. The question we faced was this: How do we best meet the spiritual needs of our congregation while doing everything we can to protect the health of those who are physically gathering with us? I believe this medical team has helped us develop the best answer possible to that question. Our plan accomplishes — as much as we are able — both goals stated at the beginning of this article. While there is no way to perfectly protect everyone from COVID-19 (or any other virus or bacterial infection), this plan allows us to meet while having in place reasonable protections for those on our campus.
As of this writing, these are our next steps forward:
- We will continue for now our worship gatherings on Sunday mornings at 9AM and 10:30AM with the same restrictions. Click here to read more on what we require of those who want to worship with us on Sunday.
- On Sunday, August 2 we will have a baptism service with about a dozen individuals getting baptized. As has been the case with every other worship experience, this Sunday will be different from previous baptism services in order to protect those involved.
- On Sunday, August 2 we will begin offering Preschool programming at our 9AM worship time only. This applies to those from birth through 4K (those entering 4K this school year). We have in place a number of protocols to protect our children, volunteers, and parents. To read more on these safety measures, please click here.
- On Sunday, August 9 our KIDS ministry (5K-5th grade as of this school year) will begin meeting again. For more information on schedule and safety protocols, click here.
- On Sunday, August 16, our middle school and high school students will begin meeting on Sunday mornings. Additionally, they will host a few Impact meetings during the month of August before a new fall Impact schedule begins in September. For more information on our student ministry, click here.
- On Sunday, August 16, we will begin promoting our fall semester of Home Teams. During this quarantine, our small group ministry has been more important than ever. If you’re not currently involved in a Home Team, I would strongly encourage you to sign up for one this August. There will be a variety of options (including online groups). We all need to be in a community of other Christ-followers, especially in times when attending in-person worship services has been a challenge.
As I’ve shared with you in previous posts, please refrain from attending in person if you have any symptoms, you are in an at-risk category, or you are uncomfortable abiding by the protocols we have in place. If any of these apply to you, we invite you to continue worshipping with us online.
I again want to thank you for your support during these difficult times. The information we have received on the pandemic has been constantly changing, making it impossible to put any concrete plans to paper. I have been so proud of the flexibility, positivity, and understanding of our congregation through these past five months. You have remained faithful in your financial giving and in your attending (online or in-person); you’ve led and participated in Home Teams; you’ve volunteered to help with the events we have been able to do during this time; and you’ve remained positive in your conversations with one another and outsiders about our ministry and plans. I am encouraged by how our church has been able to continue ministry during this crisis and believe with all my heart that our impact on the Middle Georgia community will grow exponentially in the months ahead.