Call for Unity

In recent weeks another round of COVID outbreaks has led us to rehash some of the same conversations that we had in the spring.

Do we move to online?
Do we have in-person service?
How many services should we keep?
Should we do what the governor recommends?
Do we make changes or keep things the same?

Believe it or not, these are “hot button” issues, and both sides are present in the church while we ask these questions and try to answer them.

This creates a ground for division within the church, and we have to be ready for it. In light of that, I want to give you a few statements to keep in mind so that we can remain a unified church.

1.  All of us are feeling this.

It was March 14, 2020 when our church decided to suspend in-person services in order to stop the spread. Eight months later and we have not seen much change in regard to the virus. Restaurants have opened and closed again, workplaces have moved virtual or instituted CDC guidelines, schools have yet to go back to normal, and retired people have seen many of their social circles closed. Every person who has lived through this pandemic has been affected in some way by the virus.
We are all tired. We are all upset. We are all scared.
Please do not enter into conversations with others concerning the virus with the idea that you are the only one struggling. Just because some do not seem to be affected in the same way that you have been does not mean that they are not struggling.
Instead, please show grace & compassion with everyone. Remember that everyone has struggled this year and be more concerned with their struggles than your own!
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Phil 2:3)

2.  Everyone’s need are different
Even though this pandemic and the restrictions that come with it have affected all of us; there is no question that the effect on all of us has been different. The reason for this is that we all have different needs. Some of us need to avoid this virus at all costs. Others need the benefit of social interaction. Still more need to be able to work and provide for our families while some need to know they can miss work without slipping into poverty. All of us are different, and those differences shape our perspective on this virus and how to handle it.
This is made even more interesting when we think that all of these people may stand shoulder to shoulder in our sanctuary to worship God as one congregation. In fact, it is a good thing! God has made all of us different for the purpose of being a full representation of Christ’s body on earth. We are different, but we are called to use those differences as we work together for a common goal which is the Great Commission.
In light of this, let us think with a “both/and” mindset instead of an “either/or” mindset. Let us seek to understand each other, our needs, and our perspectives. Then, we can find solutions that meet our needs & further the Kingdom of God.
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12)

3.  Your pastor/church leaders are stuck in the middle
If you are reading this right now and thinking, “I don’t know of any division in my church.” Then you should be praying for your pastors & church leadership, because I guarantee you that it is there and they are taking the brunt of it.
Every church is trying to find the balance between wisdom (keeping people safe from the virus) and faith (trusting God to protect His people). There are people on both sides declaring their position, threatening if they are not heard, and leaving because they do not get their way. This puts a tremendous toll on leadership who never thought they would see times like this and just want to see people love Jesus like they do.
So please pray for your leadership. Seek out ways to help them and encourage them as they work harder than they ever have before.
They need you now more than ever!
“But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” (1 Thess 5:12-13)

These are certainly tough times and the church is being tested through it all. One day this will all be past us, whether here or in eternity. When that day comes, let us be found even more united that before; loving God and each other with all our hearts.

I hope these statements will help all of us do just that!