Literally, every company I’ve ever given my email address to has sent me something letting me know how they’re handling COVID-19. Super helpful. I’m guessing you’ve all experienced the same thing, but my hope is you’ll actually read THIS letter because I’d love for all of us to be like-minded about what we’re doing as a church for, well, church. By church, I mean our large gathering that would normally have taken place in the building at 1601 W. Drake Rd. on Friday nights and Sunday mornings.
Yesterday I dialed into a conference call with Governor Polis and about 1000 other pastors. The question was asked, “how long is this going to last?” His response – we should plan on not holding gatherings for at least another month and possibly longer. Clearly, this is very difficult, and we’re each feeling the impact of not being able to gather. But as pastors, we’ve gotten our heads together and discussed ways for the church to still be the church, despite the circumstances.
Regular fellowship is non-negotiable for God’s people. It’s something that we need as believers and we cannot forsake meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Since March 16th, gatherings of more than 10 people are not recommended while COVID-19 remains a threat, and we want to respect and follow the leadership of our city and our state. But social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation! It’s in times like these we are thankful for technological advancements. They allow us to still gather together even when the church can’t come together in a physical location.
So here’s the plan.
We pastors encourage you to still meet with others in house churches on Sunday mornings. But please keep your physical gathering to that maximum of 10 though while also strictly adhering to the health guidelines listed at the bottom of this email. Additionally, we ask the older and those vulnerable in health to stay at home to view the livestream sermon. This will mean many of our house church members will need to be connected with each other via video conference technology.
We recommend using Zoom (zoom.us). Stuff You Can Use has a great tutorial if you’re not familiar with using Zoom software. See the bottom of this email for an example structure for your house church gathering, some health guidelines, and technology considerations.
House church leaders will be contacted individually by pastors before Sunday about multiplying house churches into smaller gathering sizes and using Zoom to connect the various households. House church members will then be contacted by house church leaders about the same.
Those without a house church are advised to first reach out to a friend to find/make a house church. Register here for further guidance in finding or starting a house church.
In the meantime, we pastors are so grateful for each one of you. We’re not surprised, because we’ve always known we’re part of an amazing church. You have all surpassed expectations in this trying week. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4, you are taking your lead from Christ, the head of the church, each doing your part in making the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Let’s press on, and look ahead to the assurance of eternal life that has been bought for us by the blood of Christ.
-Travis (on behalf of the Summitview pastors)
PS. We’d love to do communion together this Sunday morning, so make sure to have bread and juice ready!
An Example Structure
- Gather at 10:00 – wash hands!
- 10:00-10:05 Take a picture of your gathering and upload it to this album
- 10:05-10:20 Sing together (someone knows how to play that ol’ dusty guitar)
- 10:20-10:30 Get any kids settled (either engaged with you or in another room). A Summitview Kids teacher/helper could utilize a past or present lesson plan/activity. Watching a video could be another option.
- 10:30am-11:05 Watch LiveStream at summitview.com/livestream
- Communion 🥖 : We plan to break bread together this Sunday! Please have bread and juice (or most similar items available) ready to serve individually to those in your house!
- 11:05-11:30 Please use a video conference tool* to discuss the sermon and pray together with the rest of your multiplied house church. We highly suggest *Zoom!
- Send your Zoom url to your coach (this will help us direct new visitors)
- Send out your Zoom url and instructions to your house church early so there isn’t a gap after the sermon!
- Before/Afterward – Be creative: Consider a meal together (individually served brunch/lunch – maybe even start a new Zoom session and eat together!) to experience more fellowship.
Health guidelines for your house church gathering
- Anyone who is sick or has any reason to think they have been exposed to COVID-19 ought to utilize Zoom, and not meet others in person.
- Shared surfaces are disinfected before and after the meeting. (Examples: tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, and sinks).
- Everyone washes his/her hands thoroughly (more than 20 seconds) upon arrival and upon returning to their home.
- Food and drink are served individually.
- Aim to maintain social distance as much as possible between members of different households and their belongings.
- Be conscientious about personal space (elbow bumps in place of hugs, high fives, handshakes and holy kisses;))
In considering your house/room location, you will likely want to think through:
- Internet speed
- Screen size
- Camera capability (probably a laptop with a built-in webcam)
- Speakers (even a bluetooth speaker would be an improvement over hearing the sermon through laptop speakers)