7/08/2020 at 9:12 pm

Our “new normal” in these “unprecedented times”

First of all, did you notice that every commercial during COVID-19 season is exactly the same? 

We’ve all seen it on the news, in our social media feeds – houses of worship can gather again, with some restraints. We’re excited to open the doors of the Summitview building to meet together next Sunday, July 19th! We plan to continue meeting as a large group once a month through the fall, so put August 23rd on your calendar for the next one. 

Many have mentioned the thing they miss the most in our large gatherings is corporate worship. In light of that, we’re also going to open up our Friday worship livestreams for those who would like to participate, beginning July 24th! These will not be full scale services, but simply a time for you to come along and worship with the band. 

You may be wondering why we don’t just open up the building and stay open for services every week. The short answer is that the church has never been a building. We don’t go to church, we are the church. And because the church has never been a building, it was never closed in the first place. 

Let me expound on a couple of things to give the long answer. First of all, we love and highly value our large group meetings. The other day I told the other pastors how much I miss hearing the whole congregation sing praises to God at the top of their lungs. I miss seeing people I don’t normally cross paths with throughout the week. And I miss meeting new visitors that come in each Sunday. 

One thing to keep in mind now is that services in the building are currently complicated as well as different due to restrictions. We have permission to meet, but COVID-19 restraints make it difficult to offer a quality service. We have to wear face coverings, and restrictions like physical distancing and limited seating create a sub-optimal environment for inviting friends and welcoming visitors. 

Another variable we’ve been considering is the spiritual growth opportunity of the congregation. Aaron’s first sermon after we shut things down was about not missing what God has for us in this season. The fact is, many of us have been experiencing spiritual growth in our house church gatherings. New visitors are attending and the discussion times after the sermon have been refreshing and faith-building for many. Disciples are being made, and we feel that through COVID-19, God has refreshed our church’s vision for smaller group oriented discipleship.

As I said before, we highly value our large group meetings and we recognize that many people have not experienced the same spiritual refreshment apart from that. This is why we feel it is advantageous to meet as a large group from time to time in this season despite restrictions. 

Here’s the bottom line – our mission as a church is to make disciples of Jesus, by the grace of God. Right now we want to be sure we don’t prematurely force a weekly large gathering of lesser quality and impact, and inadvertently miss the other things God has for us as disciples are being made in our house churches. 

So for the time being join us for a large gathering once a month beginning July 19th. If your age or health situation make it feel threatening for you to attend, we strongly encourage you to instead utilize our livestream from your home. Or even if the restrictions feel like too much and you’d rather meet as a house church, that’s ok! We will be offering the same service on our livestream and we highly value you being a part of our service virtually, united with us in spirit during the same time. 

I mentioned above that space will be limited. Because of this, we’re asking each one of you to fill out this form to RSVP (by household) for the July 19th Sunday morning service. Unfortunately this isn’t an event to just show up if you haven’t signed up. RSVP forms will be sent out in advance of each week for upcoming church gatherings, both Fridays and Sundays. 

We’ll send out more details next week so you know what to expect. Here are three very important details though as a prelude:  

  1. The service will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be only one hour long. This should give time for you to go back to your house church for discussion and lunch if you’d like. (Highly Recommended) 
  2. We won’t be serving cookies and coffee, so bring your own! 
  3. Watch for the Summitview Kids email for helpful hints on engaging your kids well alongside you in the service since children’s ministry won’t be offered. 

We look forward to the time when God enables us to meet together as a large gathering in a more sustainable way and with less restrictions.. We realize it takes work to organize locally into homes each week, but we believe that Summitview could emerge as a much stronger church post-pandemic if we continue to put in the effort. 

God wants to advance his kingdom and nothing can stop that advance, not even COVID-19 or county health restrictions. So join us in prayer for God to bring a great harvest through us in this “unprecedented time” as we find our “new normal.” 

– Travis (on behalf of Summitview Pastors)