Announcing “Almost Back to Normal Sunday” (June 7) and hopefully “Back to Normal Sunday” (July 5)

June 2, 2020 Mario Villella Announcement


As many of you know, we’ve begun meeting again for “in-person church services” for a month now. And by “in-person church services” I simply mean what everyone meant when they said the words, “church services,” three months ago. We’ve been moving back to normal, with more people coming back to church as the month of May went on. We’ve restarted KidZone for our youngest age groups (pre-Kindergarten) and plan on adding more age-groups this week.

Here’s how you can help: Contact Latara Arthur and let her know you are willing to help out in KidZone. You see, we have been stuck in a tough position. It is difficult for some young families to come back before KidZone is operational again, however KidZone won’t be operational again until families who serve in KidZone come back. There’s likely a bunch of overlap between these families, and so we need families to come back in order for families to come back. Make sense?

We’ve heard from numerous people, and it seems that June is the time that many people have said they feel comfortable returning to church. That is great to hear – this upcoming Sunday is the first Sunday in June!

Therefore, we are planning an “Almost Back to Normal Sunday” on June 7, and we hope that enough of you will volunteer in KidZone in order to open it back up to at least second grade, if not all the way to fifth grade.

We also know that there are several people continuing to stay home, perhaps for as long as we continue streaming the services. Feel free to continue to enjoy watching our services in your home throughout June, but please understand we will be ending the live stream at the end of the month.  On July 5, we plan to go back to our “normal” way of doing church, which means, only in-person services, with sermon audio being posted by the following Tuesday.

I realize there could be some people who want to know, “Why can’t you just live stream forever? We have grown accustomed to watching church in our pajamas, and we really like it.”

Yes, I’m sure you do. That’s actually one of the reasons that we did not offer it prior to Covid-19. We do not believe that sitting at home and watching a service online is the same thing as “church.” We only offered it because there was a world-wide emergency, and we thought that streaming the services was better than nothing. (Some churches didn’t even offer their services through the internet, because they were concerned that it would communicate to their congregations that “true church” could be “watched online.”)

I have spent 9 years preaching about how church isn’t a show that you watch, but a community that you are a part of. And I’m not about to let all of that work get undone now without a fight. 😊  (Not a physical fight, mind you, but rather a spiritual one.)

Some people have commented that live-streaming is a great way to expose people who live out-of-town to the message of Jesus Christ. That is a wonderful concern and may even be a good strategy. Perhaps we will consider it at some point in the future. However, at this time, I will point out two things:

(A) The message of Jesus is already on the internet being preached by many people more skilled than I am.

(B) I do not desire to be a potential pastor to all Americans. I believe that God has called me to this particular church, in this particular county, to reach the particular people that He brings our way.  I didn’t want to be a “giant head on a screen” back when we began this church, and I’m even less interested in it now.  

So, while I cannot promise that we will never be livestreaming again, I can say that we will be shutting down the live stream at the end of June, so that – over the course of July and August – we can begin to reassess things that affect many of the decisions we make. For instance, at some point we will need to determine who is, and who isn’t, a part of our congregation anymore. Lately, it's been somewhat hard to tell.

Notice Hebrews 13:17:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
An implication in that verse is that church leaders have to “give an account” for the way they led their people.  And I assume that the account is given to God, some day in the future. I don’t suspect that I will one day have to give an account for souls all over America. But I do believe that there is a particular congregation that I am responsible for. And, over the next few weeks/months, I’m going to get a chance to see who is still a part of it. 😊  I’m looking forward to that.

So, please consider attending and volunteering as we begin to open our church back up on June 7 (with more KidZone classes) and July 5 (back to in-person services only).
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Mario Villella

Lead Pastor & Elder

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