Plan for gathering – Update September 2020
Concerning the Governor’s guidelines that we have been following during the COVID 19 crisis, we are now presenting changes to the way we will be dealing with the COVID 19 matter as a church.
We believe in the authority of Scripture. We also acknowledge that working through consistency in obeying all aspects of Scripture (both objectively and in principle) is important and at times it is challenging to understand the “how” and “when” of obedience.
The passages of Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 instruct believers in local churches that they are subject to governing authorities. National and State officials occupy a sphere of authority the churches of Jesus Christ are to recognize. We also believe the teaching of Acts 4:19-20 and Acts 5:19 indicates that God’s authority and our obedience of His word supersedes all other authorities and obligations for obedience. It would be great if obeying these instructions was always crystal clear, but we know that it is not, and we need to work hard at seeking understanding and maintaining consistency.
Establishing the context of Scripture is essential for accurate interpretation. Knowing how the truth and principles of truth apply in a particular cultural context is important as well. The audience of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 vary in their context from our current context in the United States. They were in the Roman Empire governed by an Emperor, to whom they were subjects. We are in the United States and are part of a constitutional republic, and we are citizens, not subjects. Citizens of the United States are involved as enforcers of the rule of law and our constitution uniquely gives the governed rights to hold those in positions of authority accountable to the rule of law. The responsibility of citizens to hold those in authority is woven into the function of the rule of law in our country.
As part of our constitution, we believe those in elected and appointed positions of authority have the lawful authority to exercise executive powers during times of crisis, including pandemics, and citizens are to obey. These powers are limited in time, meaning they are not to be indefinite, and as such, the authority taken is not to be misused and abused.
At the outset of the COVID 19 crisis a serious threat was detected by the government and communicated to the citizens as a potential pandemic of epic proportions. Millions of lives were threatened by this virus and extraordinary steps were taken to protect the lives of the citizens of the United States and people’s around the world. We believe the governing authorities have this limited right, and we also believe the citizens of the United States have a role to play in keeping the rule of law in force. Our founders wisely realized that governments do not like to surrender control once they have established it and it is the responsibility of citizens to hold them in check.
We believe that COVID 19 is a real virus and poses a real risk. But as time goes on, and as one researches the evidence, the reality of the threat is now different. Information from the CDC continues to surface that gives a more realistic and different picture on the COVID 19 threat. The illness is not as deadly, harmful or infectious as the original warnings indicated.
However, those in positions of authority are moving the goal posts in dealing with COVID 19. The original concern was for the mortality rate. There were concerns that millions of people would die in the United States. As of September 2, 2020, the CDC says that the number of deaths “involving” COVID 19 in the United States are 170,556. The curve they want to flatten is flattened. Now the concern is with the number of people infected. Even here the survivability rate is over 99.7%. There is a good deal of bickering in our country over the interpretation of statistics, but it is reasonable to conclude that some people in positions of power are being less than honest for political reasons. We know our enemy the devil is a liar and deceiver (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9). When truth is replaced by a lie, we know who is standing behind the lies and deception (1 John 3:7-8).
Every elder of Nor’wood Bible Church loves God, loves the truth of God’s word and loves the people of Nor’wood. Each embraces the role of shepherding the flock that is among them, willingly and lovingly exercising oversight (1 Peter 5:1). The elders have more care and concern for the wellbeing and protection of the flock under their care than any secular governing official, and it is primarily their responsibility, not the government’s, to do so (Hebrews 13:17). Each elder is sensitive, supportive, and protective of the flock, desiring to show genuine care and concern for those in the high-risk categories.
As Christians and as citizens the elders of NBC believe it is time to return to obeying Scripture as it relates to the assembly of the church and no longer comply with guidelines that are both keeping us from obeying Scripture and are also beyond the constraints of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado. As elders, our primary focus in this matter is not one of civil disobedience, but one of Scriptural obedience. (Please see the passages of Scripture referenced at the end of this document.)
We will never be able to keep COVID 19 or any other infectious sicknesses and diseases from spreading. Several studies can be sighted that indicate there are good reasons to question the effectiveness of wearing masks to protect others or for personal protection against a Corona Virus.
We should all take reasonable precautions, but because we are part of a fallen world, God’s judgment for sin includes infectious sicknesses and diseases. Until Jesus comes, this is the reality we cannot escape.
The elders have reevaluated our protective practices and are making the following changes to our corporate approach to handling the threats of the Corona Virus.
- There will be one service at 10:45 (starting September 20) with Sunday School at 9:30 (starting TBD)
- Masks or gloves are no longer required, but these items are available for those who desire to use them
- The back row is set back from the other rows and made available for those wearing a mask and social distancing (three seats of space between family units recommended)
- Those wearing a mask and social distancing can come in toward the last 5 minutes of seating and they will be allowed to leave first
- One-directional flow will still be practiced
- Fellowship will be permitted inside and outside the building (if fellowshipping with those wearing masks, please honor them and practice social distancing)
- Women’s ministry, men’s ministry and small groups will be offered in a similar fashion (those wearing masks will be granted social-distancing space along with ease of entry and departure)
- Women’s ministry, men’s ministry and small groups are no longer restricted to a 10-person limit
- Water is permitted in the worship center
- Snacks and drinks are permitted in Nursery and Sunday School classes
- The people of our congregation will be instructed that those testing positive for COVID 19 should follow current CDC guidelines. You can be around others after:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation)
- However, if you had contact with a person known to have COVID-19, you need to quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with that person
- Those with fevers and symptoms of illness should remain home until they are well
- People who are elderly and those who are weakened by known health issues are to use their own discretion about when and if they should attend
- The service will be live on the website, Facebook and YouTube for those unable to attend and want to watch during the normal service time (sermon notes are available as PDF’s on the website)
- Videos and audio recordings will be available when people cannot share in the live service
New Testament passages showing the necessity of the entire body assembling as a local church
The instructions given to the church about how it functions with corporate worship, mutual fellowship, corporate instruction, displays of compassion, showing compassionate support in sorrow and joy, and mutual ministry in general, cannot be effectively or consistently accomplished when the people of the church are not permitted to assemble. Some of these things can be accomplished at a distance for a limited time, but it demands much focus and intentionality, intentionality that we struggle with even as a gathered community. Some of the passages that come to mind are as follows:
Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:3-21; 14-15; 1 Corinthians 5 (discipline assumes assembly – not in part, but the whole); 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:17-34 (Communion assumes the participation of the entire church, assembled as one body); 1 Corinthians 12-14 (gifts assume connection and interaction); Galatians 6:1-2 (connection to restore fallen brothers and sisters in Christ – bearing their burdens); Ephesians 4:1-16 (unity and mutual ministry demands assembly); Ephesians 5:15-21 (Spirit-filled ministry of communicating truth to one another in song and word assumes assembly); Philippians 2:1-4 (practical ways of focusing on the interest of others assumes connection with the body of Christ); Colossians 3:12-17 (the fruit of fullness of the word expects assembly to be fulfilled); Most of the letters of the Apostle Paul are written to churches anticipating a united application bearing fruit in the assembly of followers of Jesus; Timothy and Titus are instructed in the rudiments of corporate ministry; Hebrews 3:12-14 (taking concern for the brothers and sisters who stray expects consistent connection and involvement); Hebrews 5:11-14 (teaching one another and maturing together anticipates assembling); Hebrews 10:24-25 (stirring up to love and good works and encouraging one another demands meeting together) Hebrews 13:7&17 (following godly leadership assumes assembling); James 2:1-13 (partiality is to be guarded against in the church assembled; James 3:1-18 (the benefit of teaching, the threat of the tongue, the pursuit of wisdom are corporate instructions) James 5:13-20 (states suffering, cheer, sickness among you – anointing and prayer over others by Elders, confessing sin to others, and restoring others is with assembled saints); 1 Peter 2:9-11 (all refers to community identity); 1 Peter 4:7-5:5 (the one-another’s, ministry of elders, corporate humility – assume the church assembled); 2 Peter (protection against false teachers and teaching is a congregational activity); 1-3 John (love of the Lord, love of truth, love of obedience, love of one another are corporate activities) Revelation (written to assemblies of believers). The gathered community or assembly of believers is the focus of the bulk of the inspired record of the New Testament.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact one of the Elders.
The Elder Council of Nor’wood Bible Church