Fear God and Honor the King
Governor Inslee last Sunday issued a new list of statewide restrictions to help stem the tide of coronavirus as it has been surging across our land. There was a bit of irony the announcement was made at 11am on a Sunday, since a portion of the new restrictions apply to the activities of churches. My goal in this note is to let you know not only the decisions our Leadership Team has made in response to these orders, but also our rationale.
God has given a number of Scriptures commanding us to submit to those in authority over us, therefore we must receive these orders with a good faith readiness to comply. (1 Peter 2:13-17) However, our highest authority is God, and we cannot in good conscience violate his word. Therefore, if there is a conflict between the two authorities, we clearly must obey the Lord rather than man. (Acts 4:19) With this in mind, our Leadership Team has agreed to the following plan for our ministry here at Evergreen.
- Worship Services: We are grateful the new restrictions allow us to continue holding all three weekend worship services, as well as our Spanish service, while observing all the now familiar precautions. However, the new orders also prohibit both worship bands and congregational singing. This we cannot comply with. We have reluctantly agreed to limit our worship team to a leader and an instrumentalist, but in light of the many biblical commands to sing, we intend to keep worship in song as a foundational element of our worship services.
- Life Groups: Ideally, each of our Life Groups function very much like little churches. Therefore, we will be instructing each Life Group leader to determine with their group how to obey God’s instructions while honoring the guidelines of our state government. Some will meet virtually, others will meet in person and some will likely do a hybrid or use some other creative means. Our pastors will assist our groups in navigating this challenge.
- Special Events: Most special activities and fellowship events at church will be canceled during this four-week season.
- Youth Group: We have agreed to temporarily suspend extra youth activities, such as the Study Sesh on Wednesday afternoons, but intend to continue the primary Wednesday evening youth gathering. However, Pastor Ryan will develop a plan for the meetings that greatly minimizes risk, including wearing masks, taking distancing seriously, eliminating contact games, and the like. The goal will be to help our youth learn the same thing we are learning as adults: To do all we can to honor our authorities as we live under God’s supreme authority. Or as Scripture says, “Fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17)
These are difficult days, my friends. But I am truly grateful to be walking this path together with you. It brought tears to my eyes to read over the many responses that came in on the welcome cards at church and the comment space for those tuning in online. I am realizing anew that the very challenges that make the path difficult are at the same time making our relationships rich. I thank God for you.