Dear Village Family,
When will the church reopen? When will we be able to meet together again on Sunday mornings? Those are questions we’re receiving quite a bit these days, and if you’re asking those questions or similar ones, you’re not alone! Our Lead Team is continuing to work diligently in seeking wisdom from a team of medical professionals in our church, utilizing guidelines shared with us by local and national experts and leaders, and engaging with the school system as they navigate allowing groups back into their buildings.
I want to share with you a few of the principles that are guiding our thinking and decision-making on this as we move forward.
We have never closed.
Church is way more than the 1 hour per week when we’re gathered together at Sunset Middle School. Church includes the full 168 hours per week, 167 of them when we’re scattered to reach and serve our neighbors with the love of Jesus.
Our church has never been about the “four walls.” We’ve never even had our own walls! Our church is alive and active now more than ever, and so it would be misleading to talk about “reopening.” Instead, we want to encourage every person in our church to lean in and embrace our personal role as the church scattered on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
Our church continues to be “open” in some really significant ways:
- We are continuing to reach people online in new ways, literally across the world.
- New people are joining us every week and hearing the good news of Jesus. The barrier has never been lower to attend!
- Camp Village Kids launched online, giving us more opportunities than ever to reach kids and families.
- Groups are caring for one another in new and creative ways and new people are connecting to groups.
- We are engaging our youth and kids in creative ways throughout the week, not just on Sundays.
- Over 120 kids and families are receiving extra food every single weekend
We value creating a warm and welcoming community.
Creating a warm, welcoming, open environment where people of all ages can connect to Jesus and a community of Jesus followers is of primary importance for us on Sunday mornings. One of our calling cards as a church is how welcoming and friendly we are. (We’ve been called “aggressively friendly in a good way.”)
It would be incredibly difficult to create a welcoming and hospitable environment with the social distancing measures we would currently need to take in order to follow the CDC and local guidelines for gathering in a large group: requiring RSVPs for worship to ensure distancing, a “no-touch environment” including no greeters and no handshakes, wearing masks during worship, temperature checks for all who enter, (and no coffee or donuts!)
Simply put, our Sunday gatherings don’t lend themselves to social distancing guidelines.
We love kids and families.
Village Kids is a huge priority for us on Sunday mornings, and we would not be able to open Village Kids immediately due to the fact that kids often do not practice social distance well, and the vast majority of parents do not yet feel comfortable bringing their kids to an environment like Village Kids. This would mean for families to attend worship, they would need to bring their kids into the socially distant worship gathering, following all the guidelines above, which is not an optimal situation for our kids and families. We would prefer to wait to gather together physically until it can be a great experience for all of our people of all ages.
We care about connecting disconnected people.
Our vision as a church is clear – to help people who feel far from God or disconnected from the church connect to Jesus and to a community of Jesus followers. We prioritize reaching the people who aren’t here yet, that’s who we’ve been from the beginning and who we’ll continue to be as a church.
A socially distant environment for worship does not help us put our best foot forward for first-time guests and people who are disconnected from Christ and the church. We wouldn’t want a first time guest or family to be turned off or to have a bad experience due to required social distancing measures. The good news is that, with our current online worship experience, the barrier for new people to connect to Jesus and to our church has never been lower.
We are flexible and adaptable.
We know that this continues to be a very fluid situation, with factors changing regularly and rapidly. We are willing to adapt and to be flexible with the changing circumstances, and through it all, we are inviting the Holy Spirit to do things in our lives and our neighborhoods that we couldn’t predict or plan. We know that there is so much of this outside of our control, and we will be as flexible and nimble as we possibly can as we respond to those factors.
We don’t have our own facility.
Finally, the reality is that we don’t have our own facility. We are working with Williamson County Schools on our options for meeting again in the school. As of now, they’ve communicated that all outside groups are still suspended from meeting in all school buildings, and they will revisit that policy later in July. We also continue to explore additional options for meeting, and at this point, the vast majority of facilities are still not allowing outside groups. We will continue exploring all options before us.
We have been working on a three-phase plan for how we continue to be the church together even as we’re the church scattered.
Phase One: We will continue to provide high-quality resources for online worship, Village Kids and Youth, and opportunities for people to connect together virtually in smaller groups for prayer, support, and encouragement. We will continue providing online worship indefinitely through phases two and three for those who would prefer to worship in that way.
Phase Two: We will encourage Village Groups and other smaller groups to gather together in yards and homes as they feel comfortable and as social distancing guidelines allow.
Phase Three: We will begin meeting in person for Sunday morning worship.
I am incredibly grateful for the guidance of our Lead Team and our COVID-19 Health Team for their shared leadership during this time. As you might imagine, it is difficult to make decisions and lead a church forward during a time like this, and I’m grateful that I’m not doing it alone. I know that we will not do this perfectly, but I trust and pray that we’ll continue to encourage one another along the journey of faith that’s ahead of us through a difficult time.
I believe that the work of the church in our community has never been more important than it is right now. I can’t wait until we’re able to be the church gathered again, but I’m praying for you as we each take steps to be faithful to what God wants to do in us and through us right now as the “church scattered.” If there’s anything specific that I can be praying about for you, please let me know. I love you all!
Following Jesus for the Full 168,