Scott Foster the executive pastor of The Grove Church in the Minneapolis area acknowledged the evangelical culture war in the context of COVID-19 That said he stated that the church was working on re-opening and doing it properly.
“Medicine heals doubts as well as diseases.”
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
The executive pastor Scott Foster of The Grove Church in the Minneapolis area sent out an email discussing the issue of re-opening in regards to COVID-19. He nodded and acknowledged the culture wars and how they as a church have not closed. His comments about President Trump I found an interesting development because I have not seen many people acknowledge the culture wars in official church communications. In writing about the EFCA as well as the COVID-19 pandemic I wanted to add this letter by Scott Foster to the blog.
Dear Grove Church Community,
I wanted to reach out to our church community this morning to share perspective and details about our plans to reopen The Grove Church for future Sunday services. This Memorial Day weekend, we will continue to gather online together at 9:00am as we have these past nine weeks. I clarify this information because yesterday, the President of the United States called on state governors to allow churches to reopen immediately and announced updated CDC guidelines for churches to safely gather. You can find that information here.
The President declared that churches are “essential services”. This is significantly different from what Minnesota’s governor announced earlier this week as it relates to a limit on size gatherings in Minnesota. Please hear me, it is not my intent to jump into the ongoing battle of federal vs. state government as it pertains to the church or the rights that we have as a church. I simply want to share my heart and remind us all that we are a Christ-centered church, driven by biblical principles and faith. Our mandates and decisions are based on God’s Word along with the collective wisdom and discernment of our church leaders.
What are our biblical principles guiding The Grove Church in the decision to reopen? First, our hearts are to submit to the scriptural call to meet in-person for worship (as seen in Hebrews 10:25). We have not closed the church in this season. In fact, we have experienced some powerful gatherings during this pandemic. The gospel has been preached and people are being exposed to the good news of Jesus, some for the very first time. We are also to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-5). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39) and put the interests of others ahead of our own (Philippians 2:3-4). These principles are, and continue to be, the foundations for making decisions in this season.
It is also important that you know that we do have a plan in place to reopen! Our plan has several stages and will happen gradually. Until state restrictions are loosened, we believe online services are the most God-honoring approach at this time. We will share specific elements of our plan with the church body soon. I would also ask that you pray as a church as there are still significant challenges to corporate worship gatherings at The Grove. There will be restrictions on the size of gatherings, social distancing and the required wearing of face masks as we reopen. We will continue to provide an online worship experience for vulnerable members and will be moving to livestream shortly, giving the capability to interact with others watching in real time, as a next step in preparedness to reopen. We are also exploring the idea of adding services to ensure smaller numbers and ongoing sanitizing, knowing it will be some time before many from our congregation return to in-person worship services.
One thing I hope we can all agree on, is that COVID-19 has been a lightning rod in our world, country and state. It has left people with feelings and emotions all over the map. Uncertainty, fear, frustration, hopelessness, loneliness and impatience are seen and felt each day, and we know this journey is far from over. Take hope church, God is at work. It is in times like these, I think of James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
God is using this pandemic and His people to share the gospel in both word and deed. We are called to be the light that our dark world needs desperately. People apart from Jesus are going down a path to an eternal COVID, a place of isolation, sadness, hopelessness, suffering and death. I don’t know about you, but with this reality. I am not interested in getting through the trial as fast as possible but living more as James calls us to as Christians who trust God and grow in times of trial. This COVID season will end; until it does let’s practice patience in how we listen, plan, watch, trust, serve and pray. Let the world see that we are people who believe Jesus is still on the throne, and this life is not the end!
We love you Grove Church and are praying for you daily. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions or aren’t getting the weekly updates. Thanks for being a part of this amazing church family!