When Will Doxa Resume Sunday Gatherings?
When Will Doxa Resume Sunday Gatherings?
Many of you are likely wondering about the timeline around us reopening Sunday gatherings at the John Danz building in downtown Bellevue. I'm thankful that you share in our longing to be together again! There are several factors that go into the reopening of "normal" Sunday gatherings. But first, I want to talk briefly about how we make decisions like this.
We want to handle this decision by praying and thinking through several criteria, including what is loving, what is wise, and what helps our witness to the world that needs Jesus. When considering these criteria, we are carefully considering how to be biblically faithful and care for others, not just continue our agendas and programs. As Jeff preached recently, this season presents a dangerous opportunity for the church to sin in arrogance and rebelliousness, or on the other side, to live in unnecessary fear and anxiety. We want neither.
We also want to look like Christ in how we treat others around these decisions. Demonizing or maligning other believers that feel differently around these matters is unhelpful and says far more about our own maturity than it does others in disagreeing with us. People who love and worship God will have differing opinions on these matters, and that's perfectly ok. If you follow Christ, then embrace his call to humility and assuming the best of others.
Below are a few more considerations around re-opening:
1. Doxa is a big family.
Our church size (800-1000 on Sundays) means that we fall well into 50+ drop-off for Phase 4 set by the governor. Yes, we know the President has said that churches are essential…but as a nonprofit in this state that authority falls to the governor. Holding 8 church services a Sunday right now for those that would show up is not a viable option for our volunteers and staff.
2. We’ve learned (and are learning) from others.
Our pastoral team has had dozens of conversations with other pastors in our area and those in other states/regions, and have learned that on the whole, those in places that reopened more quickly they have had a very difficult time creating a worshipful environment with all the regulations and expectations of public gatherings. Some of shared that they wished they had not opened up so early. We’re weighing the costs and benefits along the way. I personally love the idea of reopening soon, but the reality seems to be different than what most of us imagine, particularly as churches struggle to implement the CDC guidelines for gatherings. The majority of our members continue to indicate that they see waiting as best.
3. We have a TON of kids.
Doxa is full of young families and the dangers around COVID are heightened with children’s gatherings, particularly because kids share germs so easily. There is no current way for us to safely reopen classrooms, and won’t do so until comparable environments like classrooms and pre-schools do the same. We are watching other like-minded churches that have reopened in other parts of the country and learning from their experiences and best-practices when it comes time for us. We also are taking this season as a chance to improve the overall experience for kids in our space.
4. The transition will require more staff and volunteers.
When COVID hit, the team that hosted and produced our gatherings pivoted to a different kind of work to produce online gatherings…we’ve learned a lot, but we’ve also put in long hours each week to make it possible. It’s clear that in the transition back to normal gatherings, at least for a time, we’ll need to do some version of both online and in-person services. At the moment doing both is not feasible. We’re looking at contracting out some work and getting some new serving roles activated to help move that forward. If you'd like to help make this happen, let me know.
5. Lastly, our staff and pastors really miss being together!
We’re working and learning hard so that as soon as we can do so safely, we can begin having modified gatherings of some kind. If we choose to do modified gatherings with limited headcounts, that will be made available for members first. I am anxious to get our church back in one location and worship Jesus in the same room.
In closing, we have some pretty remarkable news coming very soon about our location as a church so keep an eye out for that in an upcoming edition of the Weekly Update. If you have other questions about all this, let me know.