Dear Waypoint Church, Like everyone else in our city, we are paying a lot of attention to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and thinking very carefully about how we should respond as a church. As the week has unfolded and new information has become available, my thinking on this subject has shifted dramatically.
After consulting with our staff and elders, we have made the decision NOT to gather as a church for worship this coming Sunday, March 15.
And starting this coming Sunday, we are not holding any gatherings larger than the size of a small group in homes or at the church. We will be paying careful attention to this rapidly developing situation, sending regular updates, and looking to resume meeting as soon as it is safe for everyone. I know this is a disappointing situation for all of us. Believe me, I understand. I love gathering with our church and covet our time together. The Scriptures are clear about the importance of gathering together for corporate worship and the preaching of God’s Word (Hebrews 10:23-25). We take that seriously as a church, and I take it seriously as your pastor. I also think it is incredibly important for us as Christ’s ambassadors to be a source of life, hope, and stability for our communities in troubled times. The last thing we want to do is give in to fear or feed into sensationalism. That’s not what the people of God do. We are making this decision for two very simple reasons: 1. We want to honor those in authority who are working for our health and good. Governor Cooper has asked all of us to cancel gatherings of over 100 people.
2. Jesus calls His followers to sacrifice out of love for those around us. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and to pay particularly careful attention to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). From the best information we have available from public health officials, staying home as a form of social distancing is the best way to love our neighbor. There is something beautiful about the church of Jesus gathering in the face of danger and persecution, when the risk is on us. I believe there is something equally beautiful about the church of Jesus choosing not to gather when doing so puts others, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, at risk. This is a moment for the church to lead the way in sacrificing for the common good.
As for worship, discipleship, and fellowship during this time; we are going to start with the following plan for this Sunday and the upcoming week.
For worship, we will have a teaching video each Sunday, a prayer guide, and a playlist of songs for you to use in home worship (we will send the one out tomorrow). Our Children’s Director, Megan, will also send out some songs and devotional materials for parents to supplement the teaching. We want to encourage home worship in small groups. This can be done with the people in your small group or others you invite to gather to worship in your home. During this time, we desire for elements of our small group ministry to continue under certain precautionary measures. We will be contacting the small groups leaders on Monday with a plan and some suggestions on how to meet and care for each other. At the same time for those who are in high risk groups or don’t feel comfortable attending any of these small group gatherings, there is no obligation to do so. We want to encourage everyone to continue with the Bible Reading Plan and the Lent Prayer Guide. We will also be sending out specific ways we can pray for the current situation and for each other. Additionally, we also recognize that this season of financial uncertainty will affect some of our members and those whom we serve in outreach. We are thinking through ways to continue to love and serve the children in the Backpack Buddy Ministry at Creekside Elementary and the families at Duke Manor, as well as some in our own congregation. I know this is a crazy time, but let’s use this time to pray. I would ask you to pray for our leaders, pray for our health care professionals, pray for our churches, and pray for all those who contract this disease. May God be our source and our strength during this difficult time.
If you have any additional questions, concerns, or need assistance during this time, please feel free to email me or any member of our team. In Christ,
Pastor Lawrence Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.