How We Are Navigating Forward
In light of current events in our world, country, state and local area, we believe it is prudent to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) and what our plans as a church are. Here are a few verses of Scripture we might consider.
- In 2 Timothy 1:7 we are told we have not been given the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-control
- In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said we ought not to fear what can kill the body, but God
- In Hebrews 10:25 we are told not to neglect meeting together
- In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we are told that we walk by faith, not by sight
- Philippians 2:3 we are told to value others more important than ourselves
Well church family, it looks like we may have a few more weeks of being separated yet, and in the meantime we will continue to meet online on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nortonbaptist/live/) and on our website (https://nortonbaptist.com/live). I want to clear something up, however, as I am seeing a lot of information out there that is well intended, but I believe misguided. Many are saying that the church is not a building, and I agree wholeheartedly with that assertion...it never was a building. Where this statement goes wrong, however, is when people then jump to the claim that meeting online is really the same thing. I want to make clear, the idea from Hebrews 10:25 is a physical assembling of ourselves together. God created us not only as spiritual beings but as physical ones as well. While meeting online can give us some sort of connection, it is no way a replacement for the physical assembling of ourselves together. There is no way for us to shake hands or hug online. When we pray for one another through Zoom, we cannot physically place our hand on another's shoulder while we do so. This is an aspect we are missing out on as the church and we ought to acknowledge that fact.
So please understand, as your pastor, as I invite us to continue to connect online together, I fully recognize that this is not a replacement for what we all desire...to be together again physically. Let us also recognize that God is sovereign in this, He knows the season we are in, He has put us in this season, and He is providing for His church during this time all that we need. You may feel that you need more, but trust in the provision God gives you, and when the time is right, He will bring us back together again. As one who desires to be together, I know that I cannot wait.
In the Love of Jesus,
Some Questions That You May Have
I would expect, as time goes on, I may get some questions. As I do, I will seek to post them here. Feel free to send in more to me.
are we being disobedient to romans 13 if we continued to meet?
In the governor's order there is an exemption for churches, so the short answer is that we would not be disobedient. Some have pointed to the idea that we are to submit to the leaders whom God has appointed, but remember, we are to submit to God rather than to men if there is conflict. At some point, a request for us not to meet could run up against Hebrews 10:25, and I would lead us to submit to God rather than men should that time come. Consider Paul who wrote Romans 13 who was brought to trial for causing a stir. He submitted to being arrested, submitted to being imprisoned, and submitted ultimately to his own execution, but in all of that he continued to submit to God rather than to men. Submission was not giving in to what they wanted, but accepting the consequences they placed on him for his obedience to God. Let us make sure we interpret these Scriptures properly.
How does what we are doing fit with being strong and courageous?
We are to be bold and courageous during these times, being careful to be obedient. Being strong and courageous does not mean we test the Lord our God. God can protect us, but we ought never to be foolish in our behavior. We take measures in our daily life all of the time that are wise precautions. Slowing down in a vehicle on a rainy night because you cannot see does not indicate you are not strong and courageous, but wise. I am seeking to help us find a balance in all of this at this time. There is room for those who disagree with however I decide to move forward, let us just make sure to not stir up disunity in our disagreement as long as it is not a clear Biblical issue.
How can we connect as church in light of us not meeting?
I firmly believe this time is going to be used by God to help His church get a better picture of this. We must be making phone calls, sending notes of encouragement, and generally reaching out like we probably should have been doing all along. I will confess this is an area your pastor needs improvement upon as well. We have started 7:00 Bible study every night on Facebook and our website, we will have online services, and we are doing Zoom prayer meetings together. All of this has come together rather quickly, but praise God that He has given us these abilities and technologies to connect. As I have stated, none of this replaces fully the fellowship we miss out on by being physically together.
How is our church doing financially? how can we give?
First, by God's blessing, our church is doing well financially. Although none of us had any foresight of this happening, the leadership chose to set a reserve amount in our checking account a couple of months ago that is going to help us weather these coming weeks.. God has also blessed us with no debt so we can manage circumstances like more easily.
Second, we just setup online giving and it is available here. https://nortonbaptist.com/online-giving You can also choose to mail in your gift to us should you desire.
Third, we are looking into applying for a forgivable loan through the CARES act passed by the federal government that is available to churches. This would help us not reduce any hours or pay for staff during these weeks, which is the primary purpose of these loans.