Why we are waiting on in-person gatherings
Hi TCC Family,
As the state moves to Phase one opening plans this weekend, there is allowance for churches to begin to gather again in person to worship. Provided certain parameters are met - only 25% occupancy of the building and other social distancing precautions like masks, 6 ft of distance between people not of the same household, hand washing, etc.. We are registered as a church with Open Safely, the Louisiana organization designed to guide businesses and churches in precautions to take to reopen. We are hoping to find out safe steps we can take to regather as well as, what is 25% occupancy of our building? It seems to be based on square footage and the guides differ according to the type of business.
Partly because we are waiting to hear back from our state for more direction and also because locally, cases have been increasing as well as hospital/ICU beds/vent usage increases over the last 13 days, we feel like we should not gather as early as this Sunday. As our area has practiced more freedom, we would love to see the consequences of that, positive or negative, play out over the rest of May and into June. Does the loosening of restrictions cause an uptick in cases, hospitalizations, and vent use? Or is everyone truly being cautious with masks and hand washing as they enjoy more freedom? Or is COVID going to prove to be somewhat seasonal and we can expect a lessening of it’s impact through the summer? Basically, we are waiting to see what happens through May and into June.
We value greatly the privilege and commands for Christians to gather and worship Jesus. And we are hopeful we will be able to do that at some point this summer. But we also, as the church, have a built in flexibility in how we share life and gather together. We can still be the church and do the work of the church without in-person Sunday gatherings. It’s not what we like or prefer and it could even be detrimental long term if we allow our frustrations or distance change our perspective on who the church is and what the church is called to do.
We are also exploring what precautions we need to take when we gather again regarding children. About 35% of day cares in Louisiana did not close during this shut down. What steps are they taking to protects kids? Can we implement the same steps? Are we willing to take those necessary steps? Will parents send their kids to classes and nursery provided we take those steps? This is part of the reason we are sending out a survey - to hear from you. Please be honest and let us know where you in this. Survey can be access here.
In all of this, we are striving to move forward led by the Spirit of God more than anything else. Walking by faith and not by sight or fear. To some degree, COVID 19 is going to be with us for a while. Vaccines look promising, but are not guaranteed and it could be a while for them to be available. Certainly, it’s not possible to stay in our homes for the next 12 months hoping in a vaccine that may or may not work. To some degree we can take reasonable precautions (masks, washing hands, keeping our distance) and live a somewhat normal life interacting with others. Whatever convictions you have as a family or individual, please make sure those convictions are convictions of faith and not fear. Live with faith and not striving to control our lives and ensure our safety and well-being simply because you are doing everything right. Ultimately, our lives are in the hands of the Lord more than our ability to follow rule and take precaution. We are not reckless with that knowledge, but full of faith, wisdom and a desire to love God and love our neighbor as we walk this out.
We do feel like MC’s are clear to gather provided that social distance is practiced, hands washed, and when necessary masks worn. Also, much grace should be given to families or individuals who don’t feel comfortable gathering with the rest of the MC in a house. Allowances like Zooming them in should be made to make them still feel a part of the MC. It’s also important for each individual and family to check their heart and motivation about not gathering. Again, don’t use social distance as an excuse to stay distant from community for reasons other than health concerns. Don’t use social distancing to remain cozy in your fears when there are reasonable steps that could be taken to stay safe and gather. The weather is still nice enough to gather in yards and keep a safe distance, so consider that option.
As elders and leaders, we are also exploring other gathering options and ways we can improve our current Sunday pre-recorded worship experience. There is space on the survey to speak into all of that. Please pray for the Spirit to work in us through these different worship experiences. Please own your own personal and family spiritual health and vitality and dig into the Word and Prayer with community. There are ways this is happening and it's beautiful to hear. Please keep sharing those with your MC's, DNA's and leader. If you're struggling and we are not aware of the struggle - please let us know. There is also space on the survey for that.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and answer the survey as soon as you can. Survey can be accessed here.
Hey TCC Family,
We want to slightly tweak one plan we’ve made for this week. Instead of us gathering on Zoom Sunday night for a church wide prayer time, we would like to invite and encourage everyone in TCC to join together in The Gospel Coalition’s Day of Prayer and Fasting this Saturday.
There are guidelines on how to engage in prayer as individuals or as a family in the morning. In the evening, (6-7pm) TGC is inviting everyone to their FB Live or You Tube page for a music and prayer gathering led by the various pastors, authors, theologians, and Bible teachers who either lead TGC or contribute. They will guide everyone gathered digitally through a time of worship and prayer.
From 1:30-2:30pm, we want to invite everyone in TCC to a church wide prayer time on a Zoom call. You can join by video/audio or audio only. If you haven’t downloaded the Zoom app, please do so before Saturday. You don’t need an account to join the call, but they do have free accounts available. During that hour we will simply pray and intercede for our world and all affected by this global pandemic. The Zoom call information is below.
As far as fasting goes, we trust you will let the Spirit lead you to how best practice that according to your faith and in light of medical considerations you may have. It could be 1 meal, all day, or something else that would help you physically be reminded of our spiritual hunger for God. If fasting is not something you regularly practice, please read the resources below and pray and considering adding a fast to your prayer time.
TCC Elders are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: TCC Prayer Gathering
Time: Apr 4, 2020 1:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting - https://zoom.us/j/687095443
Meeting ID: 687 095 443
One tap mobile
or call in +1 929 205 6099 US and enter Meeting ID #
Updated Plans for TCC
We will continue to gather virtually each Sunday. We’ll continue this type of gathering as long as the state precautions are in place for large group gatherings. We are constantly praying and considering ways to provide Sunday worship that is more engaging and unifying as a church. Please pray with us and for us.
We know for some parents, it might be a struggle to enjoy a worship gathering in your home. Linked below are some resources that could help. Or you could reach out to some other parents to find what helps them worship together as a family. Or you could consider enjoying the worship time when the kids are in bed asleep. We will be sharing more resources and information later about how to be more intentional about discipling your kids during this season of being home.
While you engage with the worship liturgy, your kids could…
3. We would encourage teens to worship with parents and walk through the liturgy together.
We continue to gather virtually due to recommendations by the state. Please discuss as MC’s more ways to communicate and check in with other. Maybe instead of one virtual gathering a week, there can be several virtual hangout opportunities. Some of those virtual gatherings can simply be fun times enjoying “stay at home” life together. (For example, Netflix and Friends (google it), playing games, or simply laughing about the absurdities of this current life). Texting throughout the week and good ole fashion phone calls are also nice. We are finding that being limited to digital interactions requires more interaction to feel connected to people. Please pursue one another as the body of Christ.
We recommend DNA’s move to virtual gatherings as well during the current stay-at-home order. In place until April 12th. It could be possible to meet outside provided you maintain the 6 feet of distance and wash hands thoroughly before and after. Also - engage deeply and constantly as DNA’s. We’re also asking currently existing DNA’s to “adopt” those not in DNA to pursue and check on. Check with your MC’s leaders about how we are setting that up.
Our mission as a church to make disciples of Jesus through the gospel of Jesus remains in place. So seek and pray for opportunities. At home with your kids and as couples. For example, some of us are having more time with kids around, therefore take advantage of those opportunities. With neighbors on walks - maintaining personal distance. Through the handout we’ve previously provided to reach out to neighbors. You could print and distribute or post on neighborhood social media apps like Next Door. Through communication with people (co-workers, extended family, friends, etc..) - checking on them, asking them how they are doing, and helping combat fears, paranoia, and anxiety with the hope of Jesus and His gospel.
Be careful about trying to be people’s savior. Be careful about over-promising. Find a sustainable pace.
Please continue to give regular offerings as you are able to help fund our commitments as a church. As always you can give online or by mailing your gifts to Nancy Baer (34 Quail Ridge Dr Monroe, La 71203). We are also establishing a special COVID-19 Relief Fund. You can signify this by writing this on your check if you are mailing your giving checks to Nancy. There is also a drop down menu option when you give online and through Push Pay. If you are able to give above and beyond, please consider giving to a benevolence account that we can use to help individuals and families in TCC who may be struggling financially. The government just passed the CARES Act and many in our church will be receiving financial help from the US Treasury over the next several weeks. Some people will desperately need this assistance just to stay afloat. Others might have a surplus because they will continue to be paid by their employers with no significant change. You might be able to give some of that to help others. The benevolence fund will be dispersed at the direction of our elders as needs are made known.
We are also evaluating our budget and not spending any money on anything non-essential. We are focusing on our obligations we’ve committed to funding (networks, missionaries, rent, insurance, etc..), staff compensation, and helping those in need.
We are switching our primary method of communication as a church from Google Hangouts to Zoom. We believe that we will have better quality calls and more flexibility through Zoom. Our elders are going to utilize zoom in a few new ways to hopefully provide opportunities for us to stay connected and encouraged as a church through this season.
1. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday one of our elders will lead a Zoom call at 6:30am and everyone is invited to join in for a brief devotional and prayer time. You can join by audio only or by video and audio. The plan is for this time to be around 10-15 minutes as you begin your day.
2. Each of our elders are considering having digital office hours in which their Zoom chat will be open and anyone can jump in to chat, ask questions or just hang out for a while. Elders are always willing and available for pastoral counseling and if that is desired, please message them individually to arrange a separate Zoom call with him or him and his wife (if a female desires counsel). And as always, if the counseling needed is beyond our ability to help, we will gladly refer you to local Christian counselors.
3. Beginning Sunday night April 5th at 8:30pm, we will have a church wide time of prayer. We know this is late and we will adjust if we need to adjust, but wanted to provide an option after the smallest kids are usually in bed. Everyone is invited to jump on the call and be led to share and/or pray as a church family during these unique days.
Later today we will be sharing the zoom links for the above times to be together as a church.
For now, please go ahead and download Zoom on your phone, tablet, and/or computer. You can set up a free basic account if you want, but it’s not necessary to have an account to join a zoom call. The experience is a little easier on a computer or tablet, but you can navigate everything necessary on your phone as well.