This week the CDC announced that there is no longer a need for masks or social distancing in most cases for those who are 2 weeks past completing their course of vaccination. Closer to home, the Primetimers had an outing together for the first time in over a year. At the end of the month, we are honoring the graduating Seniors with activities that include a congregational meal. And our attendance in our Sunday morning assembly is steadily growing closer to pre-COVID numbers, as we have surpassed 100 twice in the last month.
All those are markers that we are nearing a return to normalcy. With that in mind, it’s a good time to announce something that we have been teasing for several weeks now: the resumption of our Sunday evening meetings.
Beginning on the first Sunday in June, we will start gathering together again here at the church building. But it will look different than it did before. It’s no secret that, even before COVID, this was the least attended service that we offered. The elders and I examined that together and tried to come up with some new ideas that would hopefully generate greater enthusiasm around this relaunch; many of you are aware of that already, if you watched the Wednesday evening class a few weeks ago where we laid out the proposal and participated in the survey we sent out. Armed with your feedback, and with the twin goals in mind of promoting 1) community and 2) discipleship as we see in Acts 2:42-47—or 1) love and 2) good works if you want to put it in the words of the writer in Hebrews 10:24-25—they have approved a plan that will hopefully bear fruit in this congregation.
We will engage in a different activity every Sunday night of a month:
First Sunday will be a traditional assembly. This will be what we are all used to. But we will be utilizing this on occasion to try to get others involved in leading in our worship. A service where the youth lead, including in preaching, is one possibility. We will also have the elders speak from time to time, as it is good for the church to hear their voice. And hopefully we can get others to participate in roles that they haven’t quite been comfortable stepping into yet.
Second Sunday will be devoted to service. We not only want to stir up those good works—we actually want to get out there and do them. Don’t be alarmed and think that this means we will be digging wells or mowing yards or things like that (though it could mean that too!). These service projects could be anything from helping to assemble food boxes for the food bank, to writing cards or making calls to those who are shut-in, to going on visits to people in the community or the congregation. The only limit here is our imagination. We will be asking you shortly to respond with what sorts of activities you might be interested in engaging in so we can plan these on a monthly basis and assign people to different groups.
Third Sunday will be focused on singing. Sometimes this might involve just singing people’s favorite songs. But we intend to try to use it as a time to improve our singing. We will learn new songs and practice old ones, with the goal of making our worship assemblies more edifying. And maybe we can even use this as a chance to get some novice song leaders some practice, too.
Fourth Sunday will be about fellowship. This is something we feel we have missed out on more than anything over this last year, and it seems many of you agree, based on your responses. The early church drew its strength and vitality in part from living life together day by day. We have lost sight of that as an important feature of Christianity, and so we want to try to cultivate it intentionally. Sometimes, this will be about eating together here at the building on Sunday evening; sometimes, we might have a meal at lunch, but then get back together for some other activity at the evening time, like games or a movie or just getting to know one another better. We appear to have a bunch of strangers meeting together sometimes, and we want to remedy that.
Fifth Sunday, when there is one, will be devoted to prayer. This will be a planned, focused prayer meeting, similar to what we had, for instance, on a Sunday morning last fall.
Along with this, we will move our start time back to 5:00 pm. So, one more time: we will begin meeting again on Sunday evening June 6 at 5:00 pm.
In addition, we will begin eating together on the First and Third Wednesdays of each month, in response to the interest that was shown. More details on that will follow as we get closer to time, but if you are interested in helping to prepare that (as some of you indicated), please let us know.
We welcome your feedback on this arrangement at any time. And we hope and pray, above all, that you will take advantage of the opportunities we are going to offer here, as well as attending our recently resumed Wednesday night classes and Sunday morning Bible class. It’s time to get back to normal—and hopefully the new normal will be better than ever!