Hi Shoreline family and friends,
The pandemic has made it difficult to communicate with the entire church at times, especially those unable to physically come to our worship services, so I want to do my best to regularly and directly communicate with you however I can.
We have had a wonderful time of worshiping outdoors the past two Sundays. This past Sunday our physical attendance was greater than it has been in the past five weeks. We are thankful for the Lord’s blessing and I want to encourage you to invite family and friends, especially those who need to hear the gospel, to join us physically or online.
Four weeks ago, we chose to continue singing praises to the Lord despite government guidelines to refrain from singing in public worship services—you can access the explanation here. Two weeks ago, in response to government guidelines, we chose to move our worship service outdoors. Why did we disobey one but follow the other? The reason is the Bible does tell us how to worship—singing, preaching, praying—but it does not tell us where to worship. Much of our Lord’s ministry and the ministry of the early church took place outdoors. The Bible tells us to gather to worship, but it does not tell us we must worship indoors. We must not confuse the building with the church. There are times when we must obey God rather than men, but it needs to be a clear matter of biblical obedience. With that said, there may be churches that have no viable outdoor option, and I don’t want to compare their situation to ours.
We have sought to be faithful to the Lord and follow pandemic mitigation efforts wherever we could. As far as I am aware, there have been a very small number of Covid outbreaks at churches not practicing mitigation efforts, but there have not been major outbreaks among churches practicing mitigation efforts. We should be thankful to the Lord for that. Churches have done an amazing job of keeping their congregations safe. With that said, there is disagreement among Christians in terms of what mitigation efforts to take, and each Christian must seek to honor the Lord in their conscience and actions. As has been said, “In essentials we are to have unity, in non-essentials we are to have liberty, and in all things we are to have love.” May this be a time where we show the world true Christian humility, love, and unity.
Our greatest goal as individual Christians and as a church is to honor the Lord in all we do. I ask you to please share with me any concerns or needs you have so that our church can do our best to encourage and minister to you while we seek together to honor the Lord at this time. May the Lord bless you and cause His face to shine upon you (Psalm 67). I love you and you are in my prayers continually.
Hi Shoreline family and friends,
I love you and am praying for you. I assume by now you are all aware of the new order prohibiting indoor gatherings that includes church services. We have made the decision to move our worship service outdoors. Please note our worship service time is moving to 9:30 a.m. instead of 10:30 a.m. in order to beat some of the heat. We will be meeting on the back of our church property in order to minimize the sound from Ellis Avenue traffic as well as the distraction. We will continue to livestream our service for those who are unable to attend due to risk factors (at 9:30 a.m.). We also will continue to follow the mitigation efforts we have been following (social distancing, cloth coverings, hand sanitizer, etc.).
I know all the changes brought on by this pandemic are difficult for all of us. We do not know how long these changes will be in place, but we are seeking to prioritize in every way we can the importance of gathering to worship our amazing God during this pandemic. If you would like to help with set up Sunday morning, please meet at the church at 8:00 a.m. All of this will take some work, but the worship of God is worth every effort we make and more. God will be glorified as our community and those we know see the lengths we are willing to go to in order to worship the Lord. Please pray that God will be glorified and for Him to give us His love and grace in the weeks ahead.
We want to make this as good of an experience as possible. We will have chairs available, but feel free to bring your own lawn chairs if you desire. We cannot provide communal drinks and food due to safety issues, but we encourage people to bring water or drinks for your family. We have some natural shade from the building and trees and some E-Z Ups for shade, but feel free to bring your own shade (we just ask that you not block anyone’s view). I look forward to worshiping the Lord with you this Sunday.
Hi Shoreline family and friends,
I love you and am praying for you. This pandemic has been difficult on everyone and I am praying God will use it to grow our faith and love for Him, as well as our love for one another. The Lord has greatly and continually humbled me over the last few months and I am truly grateful. I want to thank you for all your prayers and for being so gracious as we have tried to navigate difficult waters.
I sent out a letter to our church on May 20th (I will quote from it and you can find it here) where I explained why we temporarily stopped physically gathering and moved our services online. I argued “public safety falls under the sphere of governmental authority” and since the stay at home order was generally applied and not content specific we should comply. I also gave several criteria for when I believed biblically civil disobedience would be right and necessary. First, if the government told us to not worship God (or preach the gospel or deny Christ in some way) we would not comply because worship is “clearly outside the sphere of governmental authority. We would disobey man in order to obey God” (Acts 4:19). Second, if the government allowed other “congregating crowds,” but continued to ban religious congregating then the order would move from an issue of public safety to an issue of religious discrimination. Such a situation would be a “dividing line” and we would immediately meet in person to worship. Third, if at some point the government’s orders “become completely unreasonable, then we will begin to meet.” While I believe there are other criteria as well, I still believe in the biblical and theological reasoning and veracity of these criteria. Thankfully, soon after sending the letter the governor lifted the stay at home order for churches and we began to meet in person while streaming the service online for those who are high risk.
Last week the governor put out new guidance for churches, which includes a prohibition of singing or chanting in public worship services. The order is neither generally applied nor is it content neutral. I shared with our church Sunday that as for now we are going to continue to sing praises to the Lord for two reasons. First, as stated before, God simply has not given government the authority to dictate the content of a worship service no matter how well intentioned the motivation. We must acknowledge God’s absolute sovereignty when it comes to how we worship. Second, in the Bible from the time of Moses (Exodus 15) all the way to the early church (Eph 5:19), God’s people have gathered to sing praise to the Lord (Psalm 150). Paul told the church in Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
I understand there may be those who disagree with this decision. People of good faith and conscience can disagree. The apostle Paul said God has received us, therefore, we are to receive one another and not despise one another due to issues of conscience (Rom 14:1-6). Let’s rejoice that God has received all of us in Christ, and “with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6). If you cannot sing and worship in faith and with a clear conscious before the Lord due to health concerns or to the governor’s order, then I encourage you to join us online so that you can sing unto the Lord with a pure heart.
I want to encourage us to pray. We must pray we never develop a spirit of rebellion, and for the Lord to give us grace to have a humble and submissive spirit that honors God. We must fervently love and pray for our leaders. Our government officials are having to make many difficult decisions in very difficult circumstances. There simply are no painless or perfect solutions where everyone will agree. We are all having to think through things we have never faced and as fallible humans will inevitably make some mistakes along the way. We should pray for our leaders to make good decisions (1 Tim 2:1-3) and give them grace when they make mistakes. We must continue to honor those in authority (1 Peter 2:17) in every way we can while being faithful to God. As always, I am happy to discuss any of this with you. The Lord has taught me so much through you, and I desire to grow in wisdom as I learn from each of you. May God bless you richly.