Hey Church Family!
Earlier this week our governor issued an updated set of restrictions, and there was good news in there for churches like ours! We can meet again for gathered worship, which is amazing! The governor’s edict (I always imagine an old piece of paper nailed to a wall in town square; haha!) also asked that when churches meet they abide by social distancing guidelines, which we believe is good and wise.
So that prompts a few questions for all of us!
First, will we meet this Sunday, May 3, in person? The short answer is no. As soon as we heard the governor’s update, our elders planned a meeting and in that meeting we realized…(1) we’re eager for our church to gather in person as soon as possible, but (2) we don’t have the time to make that happen in a responsible way by this Sunday, May 3. Over the past couple months, our church building has transformed into a video studio, recording studio, and food pantry. That’s awesome! But to transform our building back and respond to social distancing guidelines well, it would take more time and planning than we can pack in before Sunday.
OK. Then when do we plan to meet again in person? Our hope is Sunday, May 10! But we have to be honest: we’re taking it week by week. Our staff and elders will be working, planning, and preparing for in-person gatherings on May 10, while also tracking local data on COVID-19 cases and honoring any updated government requests. We should have a more clear and definite answer for you this time next week, but the hope (please Jesus!) is that we will provide in-person gatherings on May 10.
What if I’m sick or considered part of a vulnerable population or just not ready to take the risks of being around crowds yet? We totally understand and respect you! Even once we begin in-person gatherings, we will keep posting our online Sunday streams and other online resources. (Follow us on Facebook if you don’t yet!) Those will continue with great quality through this season because we want both people who gather in-person and people who don’t gather in-person to be part of Jesus’ family and what He is doing through our church.
What about kiddos? Children will be welcome when we begin our in-person gatherings, but Citylight Kids will not be provided until a later stage. This is part of our effort to wisely respond to social distancing recommendations and prevent any spread of the virus. Honestly, parents, it is your choice when you feel good about attending our in-person gatherings and bringing your children. We will continue to provide online Citylight Kids curriculum and sustain our Citylight Kids Council Bluffs Families Facebook group for the foreseeable future so that families with children can have great discipleship conversations!
What are some other social distancing aspects that will be involved in our in-person gatherings? Our elders have put together a Stage 1 // Stage 2 // Stage 3 plan of reopening our gatherings. We know our first Sunday back isn’t going to be like it used to be. We will slowly build back towards that. For example, within Stage 1 our in-person gatherings won’t have handshakes or hugs (and all the extroverts are so sad!); we won’t serve communion; we won’t provide coffee or donuts; we will have every other row of chairs removed to help promote social distancing; and we will enter and exit the building in separate places to prevent pinch-points in our traffic flow. We’ll pass along the specific details in the future, but if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let us know!
What times will the in-person gatherings be? We plan to return to 3 gatherings – 8AM, 9:30AM, and 11:15AM. This hopefully allows us to practice social distancing well. If we reach capacity in our gatherings on Sunday, May 10, then we will go back to the drawing board to add additional gatherings or get creative about welcoming as many people as possible while still practicing social distancing.
What about the West CB church plant? If you’re part of the Citylight West CB core team, Chuck will be in touch soon! He and some leaders are exploring meeting options and excited to take steps forward as soon as possible!
How can I help? We love that our church family asks this question! Here are a few ways you can help:
- Pray for our church and city. We so want Jesus’ kingdom to come even in this time.
- Operate on your conscience and respect others’ conscience. In other words, if you feel like you should stay home, that’s OK! We’ll provide resources for you to be involved in our church family as much as possible. But if you are healthy and feel like you want to attend our in-person gatherings, that’s OK! Just please abide by the social distancing guidelines. At the same time, if someone in our church makes a different decision from you about whether to attend or stay home, please respect their decision and even celebrate their praying, listening to God, and following His unique lead in their lives.
- Serving Teams will click back into gear slowly but surely. Stage 1 of our reopening plans minimizes Serving Teams so that no one feels obligated to attend. We truly do want to provide you options and trust you to follow Jesus whichever way he leads you. As Serving Teams return, we will communicate specifically to teams and team members.
- Keep on giving. Our church is doing well financially because so many of you transitioned to online giving or mailing in a check. Thank you so much! It’s making a difference!
We love you church family! If you have any further questions, ideas, or concerns, please let us know.
Erick and Doug