Vineyard Update from Pastor Jimmy on Regathering for Church Services: May 26, 2000
Dear Vineyard Family and Friends,
Philippians 1:8-11 (NIV)
God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Never have I resonated with the Apostle Paul’s words in these verses more than in this season. I miss you all deeply and I pray daily that you are all encouraged and abounding in the Lord’s love in the midst of hard times.
I would like to address where we are with regard to physically regathering together. I am not calling it reopening because the Valley Vineyard never closed. Our building has been closed, but the church has been open and moving through your lives in our neighborhoods and through our interactions with others.
What I appreciate about the Vineyard is that we are a kingdom movement that is used to living with tension in our theology. We believe that the kingdom of God is already here but not in its entirety. We believe that we need both the Spirit and the Word. We believe that both truth and love, and both mercy and justice, are needed. For many choices and dilemmas, we adopt a both/and approach instead of an either/or approach that unfortunately is pervasive in our culture. To that end, we are able to both appreciate President’s Trump’s recent words naming churches an essential part of society and Governor Newsom’s work of keeping California safe throughout this season.
As a church staff, we have been praying and processing for weeks. This past Monday, Governor Newsom released guidelines for houses of worship. We are now looking at these new specifications and will continue to pray and discern when to regather in person.
The beauty of our congregation is that we strive to live in unity in the midst of diversity. We have people who think we should have never closed, and we have people who will not feel comfortable regathering until next year when there is a vaccine. Although we need to face that decision, what we need most is more empathy, more love, and more compassion. Too many people think that their opinion is the only legit opinion and that everyone who thinks differently is ungodly or dumb. Do not fall into the patterns of this world. Through the power of the Spirit of God, we can walk this out together and in unity.
We know that many congregations are deciding when they will open and these decisions depend on their needs, size, and logistics, which are different for every place of worship. We are not called to question other church’s decisions or try to mimic other churches. Neither will we be motivated by foolishness or fear. We want to keep our eyes focused on Jesus so that it is He who leads the way.
I appreciate those wanting to move quickly to regather, but it is a continuous, slow, and fluid process. Please see the seven points we are looking at to help us make this decision:
1. Quality- Will the quality of gathering within the framework of the new guidelines provide a better experience than our current online experience?
2. Children- What ways can we provide a safe environment for our children? Will they be able to stay in the service with the adults for weeks/months if necessary?
3. Worship- We continue to research the effects of singing and virus transmission.
4. Demographics- We have many people and leaders in our church community who would be considered vulnerable and still unable to attend in-person services.
5. Supplies- We are still waiting for cleaning and disinfecting supplies as many continue to be on backorder.
6. Workload- Our staff has been amazing in how they’ve pivoted in this new season, but can we continue having a strong online presence and also clean and disinfect the building, without affecting our budget with expensive protocols?
7. Holy Spirit discernment- Amid all these questions, we are waiting to hear His voice clearly and respond in obedience and faith.
We are also sending out a survey to see what our church family’s thoughts are in regard to regathering. Please go to vvinfo.org/survey and fill out the survey by THIS Saturday, May 30.
Please pray for the leadership of the church as we seek God’s face and seek to discern our timeline for regathering. I appreciate your prayers and the way you have supported us in this unprecedented season. I appreciate your patience and please know that we are truly seeking to do what God has for us. I also want to say that as a pastor, I am proud of how many of you have used this season to connect with God and others. It has sincerely been an honor seeing God move in and through His church.
I am looking forward to discerning God’s will for our church body and living in unity and love to show the world that we are His disciples.
I leave you with our leadership motto for this season: “Stay calm, stay connected, and stay the course.”
In His Name,
Great letter Pastor Jimmy! I love you! ~Lynn
Thank you Pastor Jimmy! My prayers are with you & the staff.
Extremely well written Pastor Jimmy. I sense this is truly from your heart! Thank you for including me and us in wanting to know our thoughts and ideas. Iâm delighted that you and staff are wanting and willing to hear from the Holy Spirit! How He guides you is the right way to do it! Am glad to be a vine in this special Vineyard!! ðððSusan
Well said, my friend. These ARE unprecedented times and ultimately it has to be the Holy Spirit that guides us. Thank you for the letter.