City Church Friends and Family,
You have been nothing short of gracious and understanding during this COVID phase of life (and of City Church by extension). For the most part, you guys have expressed tremendous support for our approach and you have continued to bless us with the gift of your trust. For that and so much more, thank you. From the beginning of this pandemic, we decided to move to a 100% online ministry model for two primary reasons: community safety (ours and at large) and the witness of our congregation to unbelieving neighbors. We have also done everything in our power to adhere to government guidelines. As of the date this post was written, we have been (mostly) online for 24 weeks. That is a long time.
We are all starved for one word: COMMUNITY.
For the past six months, community has looked like a lot more Zoom and FaceTime meetings for many of our core relationships. Though that’s been better than nothing, we all know it’s not the same as in person community. It’s a tough pill to swallow but we all know COVID is here to stay for the foreseeable future. That being the case, I think it’s time we learn to live with it, to accept its risks, and to move forward as safely as we can.
What about the reality of the virus?
My personal view on the virus haven’t changed. It’s really serious and we all need to do our part to slow the spread. At the same time, I know that even the most at-risk individuals in nursing homes have figured out how to have safe, physically distant, outdoor, and in-person time with loved ones. It’s time we do that here at City Church. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, things change quickly with COVID (so maybe mark it in pencil rather than in pen) but…
City Church is planning to re-start in-person outdoor services beginning Sunday September 13th.
Yep. You read that right. The plan is to start with two services at 9:09am and 11:11am. Depending upon interest, we might even have to add a third service option to keep the amount of people at any one gathering small.
What can I expect if I choose to attend?
A face mask fully covering the mouth and the nose will absolutely be required. No exceptions will be allowed. Temperature checks will be performed before entry. Everyone will be required to complete a registration in order to attend. This is both to manage seating but also for contact-tracing purposes in the event of a transmission-related occurrence. We will do our best to hold a handful of seats open for walk-ins but there are no guarantees. If you do not yet have it, download the Church Center App for iOS here or for Android here and select City Church as your church. This app makes registering for church very easy.
In terms of what the actual service will feel like, it’s safe to say it will probably feel pretty HOT (at least at first). I’m not just talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit, I’m talking about the temperature since it will be outdoors. We’re working to get a tent with shade covering to help. The service will also be much shorter than the type we used to do in person. I’ve been telling our staff, think of it as “a song and a sermon.” So don’t be late or you’ll miss the worship!
With respect to those of you with kiddos…
There will not be children’s ministry for the foreseeable future. Kids who are old enough to sit calmly for 40-50 minutes coloring or doing something in the back are welcome to come. We will provide a table or two with activities to help. If you have a little one who will be impossible to contain and who will not sit quietly, it would be best (for you and for everyone else in church) to swap services with your spouse (or another trusted person) and leave them at home.
What can I expect if I choose not to attend in person?
Frankly, I would most likely worship at home until a vaccine came out if I weren’t the pastor. So I completely understand anyone who might not want to come. For those in this category, we are 100% committed to continue providing a high quality, pre-recorded, weekly online church experience as you have experienced the whole pandemic. We encourage at-risk individuals to participate online rather than in person.
Lastly, some of you might be wondering…
Why the change of heart now?
A couple reasons. First and foremost, we love our church. We know some of you are feeling spiritually starved and we want to serve you. Secondly, it seems like outdoor gatherings are the safest option we have. It’s not 100% virus proof but it’s the best option available. To add to that, we held limited outdoor/in-person gatherings in June for over a month and no one got the virus. So the short of it is: we think it’s a very small risk and it’s one worth taking because we love you. We think it’s time to learn to figure out how to do church in a COVID-19 world.
Buckle up your seatbelts and let’s all pray nothing crazy happens with the virus in the next few weeks!