VCC Restart Plan – 05-12-2020

Good Morning, VCC,   

 

I’m excited to introduce our plan for restarting the normal operations of the church.  The other elders and I have been prayerfully working on this plan for a while.  We’ve taken into account the federal and state guidelines.  We’ve talked with the County Health Department and the Mayor of Versailles. We’ve consulted with medical professionals, other church leaders, and some of you.  We’ve weighed the options, and based on the information currently available to us, we have a plan.  

 

We recognize that there is a wide spectrum of opinion and emotion concerning the crisis we’ve been living through these past months.  It is a health crisis.  It is an economic crisis.  It is a social crisis.  And, it is a spiritual crisis.  We ask that you extend grace to anyone in the church who does not see things the way you do.  Let us all love each other with a brotherly affection (Romans 12:10).   Let us give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Let us be united as children of God for His glory, our good, and the growth of His kingdom.   

 

The world has been on pause for the past few weeks.  In some ways our church has, too.  We aim to change that starting this week.  Before I get into that, let me fill you in on what has not been paused these recent weeks.   

 

  1. God is still on His throne.  He reigns over all the universe, even the scary virus that we don’t understand. 
  2. God loves His people with a sacrificial, never-ending love. 
  3. God has been growing His people through this time.  I hope that you are closer to God than you were two months ago.  I hope that you can truthfully say that you know Him better and trust Him more.  
  4. God has been working in our church. 
    • The Word of God has been preached.
    • The Word of God has been studied.  Study guides, etc. 
    • A Women’s Bible Study of the book of Hebrews started.
    • Discipleship groups have continued to meet to grow in godliness. 
    • The Elders have met more frequently than ever.  We’ve prayed together for and with you.  We’ve sought God’s wisdom for the many decisions that we’ve had to make.  
    • The search for a Pastor of Youth and Worship has continued.  We have an excellent candidate whom we are eager to bring for a candidating weekend.  
    • God has grown marriage relationships.  He has grown family relationships.  He has used you to shine light in dark places.  Co-workers and neighbors have watched how you have responded to the crisis, and some of them have been drawn closer to faith in Christ because of it. 
    • People have continued to give to the work of God at VCC.
    • People have stepped up to serve others by sewing masks, purchasing supplies, and signing up to clean this coming Saturday or work on special facilities projects.  
  1. The federal and state guidelines and orders make it clear that churches are exempt from any enforceable orders.  We have been diligent to maintain respect for the governing authorities, while also recognizing the first amendment freedoms they are intentionally preserving for us.  There are no clear rules, laws, or orders for churches in Ohio to know what they can or cannot do.  In the absence of such clear directives, we have chosen a path that we believe honors the governing authorities, loves our neighbors, and lives in freedom.  
  2. Starting immediately, we are encouraging all Outposts and other small groups to begin meeting in person again.  We are leaving this up to the discretion of the groups.  We are offering the church building as a location that such groups can meet and be able to spread out in large rooms.  Reserving church building space must be coordinated through Lindsey in the office.  
  3. Starting this Sunday, May 17th, we hope to begin worshiping together with certain limitations.  It is our intention to worship outside this Sunday.  We’ll set up the band in the parsonage garage, and each family will bring their own chairs and spread out on the parking lot and grass surfaces between the church building and the parsonage.  As we get closer to Sunday, we’ll evaluate based on weather, new developments, and feedback from you.  Maybe we’ll meet outside.  Maybe we’ll meet inside.  Maybe we won’t meet at all this week.  Right now, the weather forecasts is not encouraging.  Children will stay with their parents.  No snacks will be offered.  Social distancing will expected.  The wearing of masks will be at the discretion of the wearer. 
  4. Depending on the weather, we plan to worship either outside or inside on May 24th.  Also on this Sunday, we will have the special treat of Scotty Brooks preaching the Word of God to us.  Scotty and his family have been attending VCC for the past six months, and we are excited to welcome him to serve in this way.  Scotty has served as a pastor in the past, loves preaching, and is eager to share with us. 
  5. On May 31st, we plan to worship inside with continued restrictions such as dispersed seating, optional masks, no kids ministry, etc.  It is our hope that we can bring Daniel and Jessica Booth this weekend for their official candidating weekend.  

 

I realize you have lots of questions.  The other elders and I are eager to talk with you about anything you wish.  You can also find a published version of our plan – with all the details we can currently think of – as a shared Google spreadsheet at bit.ly/VCC-START

 

 

In Christ Alone We Put Our Hope, 

Pastor Nick,  

Tim Brandt, Rick Fennell, Russell Wulber 

 

Q&A

 

If we restart now, aren’t we disobeying the government?   

No, we are not.  From the beginning of the crisis, both the federal and Ohio orders have intentionally exempted churches.  This has not been true of certain other states that you have probably heard about in the media.  Below, you’ll find an image of the relevant section of the Ohio orders.  

 

 

 

But, aren’t we disobeying the intent of the law even if we are exempt?

 

No, as of Friday, May 15th, restaurants are free to open outdoor seating.  We take this as guidance that outdoor seating for a worship service would also be acceptable  Starting next Thursday, May 21st, restaurants may begin seating people inside at a reduced capacity.  We take this as guidance that seating people inside for a worship service is also acceptable, especially at a reduced capacity and with precautionary measures.  

 

 

 

 What if those dates mentioned above change? 

 

We will re-evaluate if dates and other guidance changes.   

 

 

 

What about the limits of 10 and 50 people?

 

Those limits are given with the stipulation that they are maximums “without precautionary measures.”  We will be exercising multiple precautionary measures in order to satisfy the letter and intent of the orders.  Again, it is important to remember that neither the US nor OH governments are dictating specific meeting sizes for churches.  

 

 

 

Aren’t we taking a needless risk?

 

Everything in life has some element of risk to it.  Based on the low numbers for our county and the precautions we will take, we believe we are being responsible in taking these steps.  We do not wish to be foolish.  We do not wish to be fearful.  We believe the proposed plan is wise and cautious while allowing us to begin meeting as a congregation.   

 

 

 

Why not just continue with the online options?

 

We intend to continue offering the sermon and corresponding resources online for any who are unable or unwilling to join us in person.  People are designed to be in community with each other, and we are eager to begin rebuilding our paused community in person.  Online resources are helpful, but they are not a substitute for face-to-face communication and lives shared with each other.  Technically, it is difficult to livestream a service with good video, and really difficult to do so with good audio.  We will do our best to move to live streaming while not spending a lot on equipment, software, and other resources.   

 

 

 

What if I think this is too soon and risky?

 

As Christians, we are given great liberty in the non-essentials of the faith.  We are to honor and love each other as brothers and sisters, even when we disagree on things.  Wherever you fall on this and related issues, you are welcome and loved at VCC.   When you are ready to return, we are eager to welcome you.  Until then, we will miss you and continue to care for you as best we can from afar.  

 

 

 

What if I think this is too slow and cautious?

 

Please see the previous answer.   

 

 

 

So, you’re saying we should be able to get along?

 

We hope that those on each side of this complicated issue will extend grace and patience to those with whom they don’t agree.  Let us not be like the characters we see in news reports and online stories who attack each other, refuse to listen, create straw-man arguments, and make dishonest and manipulative arguments.  Romans 14 is a rich chapter with much wisdom for us in this time.  It argues that we must allow each other freedom to disagree about non-essential things, and that we must prayerfully think through the issues so that we are convinced in our own minds (Romans 14:5).   We highly recommend studying this chapter repeatedly in the next few days.  

 

 

 

We encourage everyone to examine their hearts to seek out sins of arrogance or fear, recklessness and self-protection.  Each and every one of us is wrong on this to some degree.  Let us humbly hold our opinions with open hands and approach each other with open arms (in a socially distant way, of course). 

 

 

 

What about kids and youth ministries?

 

At this time the youth ministries have resumed at VCC. We are currently offering Nursery and Kids Club during our Sunday Service.

 

 

 

How are we doing financially?

 

We’ll send out a more detailed update after we get the April monthly report.  As of the half way point of April, we had seen a giving decrease of 23% after we canceled Sunday services.  We also reduced spending, and so we were still in the black for the year.  With the money from the PPP forgivable loan, we are still situated well.  God calls each of us to “percentage priority giving.”  As our income goes up and down, so does our giving if based on a percentage.  Whatever the case, we must make giving the priority in our financial lives, for it all belongs to God, and He has called us to be good stewards of what He has temporarily entrusted to us. 

 

 

 

What about extra monthly payments for the mortgage?

 

In keeping with the congregationally approved plan, we temporarily paused the extra payments while we wait to see how things play out.  We believe it was prudent to take this previously agreed upon measure to insure financial health in the midst of unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances.  We hope to resume those extra payments soon.   

 

 

What if I have other questions? 

 

We are eager to talk with any of you who have questions, concerns, or feedback.  We want to shepherd, lead, and love you well in this time.  If there’s a way we can be doing that better, we need you to help us figure that out.