When I was in the High School class of a fine Baptist church in the Detroit area, the viral scourge of “Rock and Roll” music was pandemic. The adults who led the class wanted to protect us both from the “sinful lyrics” and from the “devil’s drumbeat.” After much discussion, and prayer (I hope), they decided they could not come up with standards with which to measure the relative “sinfulness” of each song and none of them wanted to listen to all that “evil” music to determine which songs were OK for us to listen to as “good Christians.” The answer? A black/white, on/off switch decision. “All secular music is bad. God doesn’t want you to listen to any of it.” You can probably see the holes in that argument and the practical issues. I played trombone in a concert band and an orchestra. We were rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and a part of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony at my public school when the Sunday School “all-secular-music-is-bad” edict came down from above. Now what? Who do they say “is always in the details?”
The unknown elements of the Covid-19 virus and a potential pandemic made it easier to make a black/white, on/off decision to shut down much of normal life in our country. Setting aside conspiracy theories, likely no one here had enough information, or felt they had enough time, to make detailed decisions on a case by case basis of what should stay open and what should close in our lives. Although we might not agree with the black/white, on/off decision, I think we can understand why it was made in the moment.
However, now comes the more difficult part—factual thinking about what really matters. What does make a difference? Among government leaders and politicians, there is a wide difference of opinions on what is “essential.” Some of us, or even many of us, don’t agree with some or even many of their conclusions. How should we respond to that disagreement as the Body of Christ? How about as a local facet of that Body called FBC?
Do the leaders of FBC feel like they have enough factual information to rebel against secular authorities in God’s name? Have we reached the point where we are at some form of an “obey God rather than Caesar” issue? After meeting last night, I would say we don’t think we are there yet.
Do the leaders of FBC think we have enough, clear factual information to begin to “switch back on” use of our facilities by groups? Could small groups of different types begin meeting again by “enforcing” the guidelines of only groups ten or less, social distancing, masks (still don’t know if this is always a guideline or not?), etc.? Some of us felt we could. Others, after thinking of specific “small groups,” felt it would be nearly impossible actually to follow the guidelines for all involved.
Ultimately, the consensus was, we will wait a bit longer before beginning to open the facility again even for smaller group meetings. Because things could change quickly, the elders have met every week to talk through the details. Our desire is to “open” sooner rather than later. We want to do this in a way that honors our secular authorities, with the honor due to them, and truly practices the protective measures we say we are practicing. For today, given what we know, this seems like the best way for us to have integrity as leaders.
This means the FBC facilities will remain as they are—closed to meetings for now. As always, there may be individuals in the facilities, from time-to-time, carrying-out necessary work. If nothing changes we will continue with the facilities closed like this until after Sunday, May 17. We will let you know any plans for opening after that as soon as we can.
Thank you, as a whole Body, for your faithful support of one another in praying, consuming God’s Word, connecting with one another in creative ways and your giving of finances faithfully. Much of the normal mission of FBC goes on in these abnormal days. May God be glorified! May we continue seeing through “eyes of faith” and not only through “eyes of flesh.”
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
Everlasting LIFE is a gift…by God’s grace alone, through simple faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!
We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!
The church does not exist for its own sake but for the sake of the world God loves!