Hope Reentry Update
Many of you are returning to work, returning to your favorite restaurant, and returning to the local playground. Others of you are watching in horror as folks return to work, return to their favorite restaurant, and return to the local playground.
And so we know that you are probably wondering how Hope is going to approach re-entry. Some of you are wondering from a place of eagerness. Others of you are wondering from a place of worry. We personally empathize with both sides of the spectrum.
When this all started we couldn’t predict or promise what church would look like even a week in advance. But we did share four filters - four foundational commitments - through which we would run all of our decisions. In other words, we couldn’t share what our decisions would be, but we did share how we would make those decisions.
The first filter is the priority of home groups. We are not a church with home groups, we are a church of home groups. This means we will utilize and prioritize our home groups during this pandemic. We expect the way we gather and meet as a church will be very home group centered for a while.
The second filter is love of neighbor, especially the vulnerable. This means that we will not automatically maximize our gatherings just because we are given permission or have the right. It means we are ok with being a step (or two) behind other institutions in reentry. It means we will always consider how our gatherings impact those who are more medically vulnerable to COVID-19, and will gladly inconvenience ourselves for their flourishing and safety. And it means we will not criticize congregants who are uncomfortable gathering.
The third filter is submission to governing authorities. This means we will be staying close to the Dept. of Health recommendations, which is 10 people and under, 6 feet apart, which was extended to at least July 1st. This we will refer to as the 10-6 rule. More on this later!
The fourth and final filter is respecting the medical professional in our midst. So we met with a few of our own doctors and sought their wisdom on best practices for our church.
When we run the idea of re-entry through these four filters, what do we get? I think we get a re-entry plan that will play out in 3 phases.
1/ The first phase is now!
We are excited to explore and share opportunities for in-person church gatherings so long as a/ they can be safe (10 people or less, and 6 feet apart) and b/ they are in line with the mission of our church. Our home groups can’t be full capacity now. And we will continue to livestream on Sunday. But we are going to creatively find ways for in-person interaction, especially through our home group network this summer.
2/ The second phase is when we can safely meet in larger home group settings.
We expect our Sunday church gathering to look like “home group church” for a season. Pastor Joe will continue to preach on livestream, but the other elements of worship will be in-house.
3/ The third phase is when we can meet together on Sunday morning again.
We long for this glorious day!
We don’t know how this plan is landing on you. Maybe you are frustrated by how conservative it is. I want you to know that we did not make this plan lightly! And with you, we feel deeply the need for human interaction, and the shared experience of worship. We are eager with you, even as we continue to press the brakes.
Maybe you are concerned because you are not ready to meet in person at all. Perhaps you are concerned you will be shut out of the life of the church. I want you to know that we share your concern too. We are going to make sure that every aspect of our church life is available to any who are unable or unwilling to meet in person.
Wherever you are - you are a part of a church family who is excited to be on mission. We are not a bunker church, but a greenhouse church. We want to press in and grow together - even as we navigate these uncharted waters.
-The Session of Hope