How do you make decisions on behalf of an entire church concerning things we have never even imagined having to do? This is the position the Governing Board was in when we came to our meeting last Tuesday evening. When do we go back to "normal" in the midst of a global pandemic? How much risk is acceptable when it comes to bringing 160 men, women and children together for worship? Is there any way to please everyone when we know people who are on every side of the caution vs reopening debate?
So the Governing Board started where we all need to start - on our knees. After considering both the message of Joshua 1:9, (Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
And God answered. In a very positive and uplifting discussion, the Governing Board chose to create a relaunching schedule for The Rock based on the stages set forth by Governor Little for opening the state for business in the coming month and a half.
Stage 1 (May 1-15) - We will begin to prepare for relaunching our services, but will not hold public services. Rather, we will continue to live-stream services through the Rock web site (www.therockcma.com).
Stage 2 (May 16-29) - We will begin live-streaming from the Worship Center with "dress rehearsal" services. If practical, we will invite up to 15 people to serve as the "congregation" for these services, enabling us to study and plan for larger gatherings in light of the COVID-19 requirements.
Stage 3 (May 30-June 12) - We will open the Worship Center for public services of up to 50 participants. This will mean providing two services each week; one at 10:30 Sunday mornings (which will be live-streamed) and one on a day and time yet to be determined. These services will continue to observe COVID-19 protocols, which will be published as we get closer to those dates.
Stage 4 (June 13-26) - We will open the Worship Center for public services without any numerical restrictions. At this stage, we will also reimplement our Children's Ministries and Coffee Bar. Other restrictions will also be eased or eliminated altogether.
Of course, this schedule could be disrupted should the state determine that the public health criteria for advancing from one stage to the next is not met. In any event, new cleaning regimens will continue to be implemented as a precaution against sharing any viruses among us.
Is this the "right" way to do this? We don't know since no one has ever done it before. But this is the way the Governing Board prayerfully discerned for this unprecedented season in the life of The Rock. So, even if you don't agree with every step, please honor your Governing Board for courageously stepping up and seeking the Lord together in service to Him and His church. And continue to pray. Pray for an end to this pandemic and for a cure and/or a vaccine so we don't have to go through this again. Pray for the recovery of the economy, as it could easily move people into poverty and disrupt many lives, even in our own church and families. Pray for The Rock, that our leaders would continue to discern the Lord's leading and that the Lord would grant us opportunities and grace to administer His love and forgiveness to frightened people who do not know Him. And please pray for one another: some among us are grieving losses; some are rejoicing over additions; some are concerned for their job situation; some are vulnerable to this virus and are doing their best to stay out of harm's way. Be aware of one another and pray God's grace, peace and presence upon each other in Jesus' name.