Last Updated on 7-16-20
Most of us have heard by now, that on Monday 7/13/20 Governor Newsom issued an order that Houses of Worship may continue to gather, and that our gathering must take place outdoors. After prayer and discussion, the leadership team and I have decided to cooperate with the order…for now. The explanation for this decision and how this decision will be implemented are as follows:
Why the decision to cooperate
There are several reasons.
First, the fact that we are NOT being asked to stop gathering is significant. The issue of “where” the church gathers is relatively insignificant compared to “whether” we gather. Most of Jesus’ church around the world gathers outdoors. If the church in China were given this order, they would be dancing in the streets, calling this order a victory! This is more a matter of convenience/inconvenience, and as such, it is not a primary, but rather a secondary issue. As I mentioned in my previous update, most of us have strong feelings, either in the direction of safety/precaution and protecting others, or in the direction, of liberty/freedom and standing against government interference in our personal lives and corporate worship. To take a stand against government interference on a secondary issue, runs the risk of creating division and the erosion of unity. While I acknowledge that this order does infringe on our First Amendment rights, it does not blatantly violate our First Amendment rights. Which leads me to my second reason.
Second, while I am grateful to live in the United States and grateful for the wisdom of our Constitution (the wisest governing document ever created in my opinion,) as Christ-followers we answer to a higher authority than the Constitution of the United States of America. From the perspective of our Constitution and the First Amendment, I personally believe our Federal and State authorities have over-reached and interfered with the “Blessings of Liberty.” However, from a Biblical viewpoint, I believe the scriptures are clear that God’s Kingdom is an “others first” Kingdom. If our gathering outdoors, helps others in the battle against Covid-19, this inconvenience seems a small price to pay. The same could be said of social distancing and wearing masks…a small price to pay. Remember the Apostle Paul’s words, “love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…always protects.” (1 Cor. 13:5,7)
Third, is the issue of our reputation. This is a tricky subject. Pleasing God, not men, is the priority. However, total disregard for how the community views us, feels reckless to me. Community Bible Church in Waterford, recently experienced an outbreak of Covid-19 ( )
Fortunately, they had been strictly following all health guidelines and orders. What if they had not? When I imagine us ignoring the present order and if there were an outbreak at Living Hope…this would be heart breaking. It suggests complicity in our loved one’s becoming sick. Additionally, the media would be all over this…possibly damaging our reputation beyond repair, not to mention potential liability/lawsuits. Is it worth it, over what is largely a matter of convenience?
Finally, I do believe there is a spiritual battle at work in all of this. Throughout the history of the church, Christ-followers have stood their ground against oppressive governments, the Satanic doctrines of men and a host of other enemies determined to extinguish or silence the church. I want you to assure you that the leadership team and I are not naïve regarding the schemes and devices of the evil one. While we are choosing to flex on the issue of outdoor worship, we are prepared and ready to take a stand, when prudent to do so.
In conclusion, let me state that our “cooperation” is not with Governor Newsom, but rather with what we believe is the heart of God. We will continue to pray and seek God’ guidance. At the point we believe it is time to move back indoors, we will. Our first loyalty is to God, not Sacramento. Additionally, I do not anticipate outdoor worship to continue for long. I’m grateful that this order comes during dry weather. It’s not a bad time of year to be outdoors. If not much sooner, when the cold and rain come, we will move back indoors.
What you need to know
The specifics as we move to outdoor worship are as follows:
WHEN: Because we need time to prepare, our outdoor worship begins Sunday 7/26. This coming Sunday, 7/19 we will still meet @ Living Hope, usual time 10 a.m.
WHERE: Kerr Park, 840 N. Stearns Rd. The city of Oakdale is not allowing reservations, instead, park use is based on a “first come, first serve” approach. We chose this location because of ample shade and a good location for kids. There are variables that may steer us toward other locations, but we will start here. I’ll keep you posted about any changes here on the website update page. Check in here regularly for information!
TIME: To beat the heat, we will move up our outdoor service time to 9:00 a.m.
BRING: Chairs, beverages and most of all, your heart ready and expecting to meet with Jesus!
Let me close this update by saying how proud I am of you Living Hope. I admonished you when the COVID tide began, to let love rule. To bear with one another. To make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit, binding ourselves together in peace. You have done these things, and for that, I thank our Heavenly Father and say to you, bravo! I’m observing in my counseling practice that, marriages, families, friendships and business partnerships being torn apart. Stress, pressure, isolation, conflicting political opinions, debatable statistics and numerous other factors have become the means to destroy relationships. Well done Living Hope for not allowing this to be our story. Jesus is proud of you. So am I. Keep it up!
Feel free to call or text me if you have any needs and/or questions!
Love and blessings to you