As you have likely heard by now, President Trump has provided guidelines for 15 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This information can be accessed at coronavirus.gov. These are important guidelines for all Americans, including the guideline to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people. Because of this specific guideline, the pastors and deacons voted last night to temporarily cease gathering together in our facility until March 31, at which point we will reevaluate the situation. Beginning this evening, our worship services will be entirely online. Our online services will include the Wednesday GROW class at 7:00 p.m. and one Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m. We will continue to worship from our homes by praying, singing, giving, and studying the Word together. Please be on the lookout next week for videos designed specifically for our children and youth! You can enjoy our live online services through the Johnston Chapel Facebook page, facebook.com/JohnstonChapel. For those who are not on Facebook, we will post the audio on the website, johnstonchapel.org, immediately following the services. If you do not have online access, please contact the church office for CD recordings.
You might be wondering about the motivation behind this decision. Let me be very clear, we are not motivated by fear. We believe that God is sovereign. He is supreme in His universe. He is in complete control of all things, and each of us is in His loving care. We are not motivated by fear; rather, we are motivated by love. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our collective sacrifice is a way that we can love those in our church family who are at higher risk, including the elderly, those caring for the elderly, and those with chronic health issues. It is also a way we can love our community by helping flatten the infection curve and alleviate future suffering.
We want to be submissive to our national, state, and local governing authorities as prescribed in Romans 13. They have not ordered us to close our doors, rather they have given us wise advice out of concern for the people. Practicing social distancing is a way that we can demonstrate our respect and honor. They have simply asked us to continue our mission in creative ways for a season.
Church is never canceled, because the church is not a building or a service but a people. We have talked a lot over the past couple of years about being the church. This is an opportunity to serve one another. If you are a high-risk member of the Johnston Chapel family, please reach out to the church office with any need, whether it be help picking up groceries or live streaming the services in your home. We are ready and eager to serve you and your family. This is also an opportunity to serve our community and advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for the fearful. Let’s model trust in a sovereign God. Let’s invite others to experience our online services with us. Let’s share the hope of the gospel. We plan to partner with local organizations to be a blessing to those in need, so please watch for opportunities to get involved. Don’t forget to pray for the sick, families of loved ones who have died, medical professionals, and governing authorities.
The pastors and deacons love you, and we are praying for you during this time of uncertainty. Let’s not lose sight of our mission: Love, grow, serve. Please continue to watch for updates through Facebook, email, and our website. God bless you all.
Pastor Dan Thyng