Hey Church Family!
Last night our elders met to pray, listen, and make an updated decision about the timing of in-person gatherings, and we decided to provide in-person gatherings in our church building this Sunday (May 17) to go along with online gatherings.
Once again, it wasn’t an easy decision. Just like there’s a range of thoughts and feelings among our whole church, there’s also a range of thoughts and feelings on our elder team. And, like our team, you might have varied emotions and thoughts about this, too. Some might feel excited. Some might feel concerned. Some might feel confused or worried. We encourage you to take those to Jesus, and feel free to share them with us, too.
Whether you’re thinking about staying home for the online gatherings or attending the in-person gatherings, please read the following carefully to get the full details. And thanks a million for engaging in the little details to serve our larger church family!
When will the in-person gatherings be this Sunday? We will provide two gatherings: 9AM and 11AM.
When will the online gathering be this Sunday? This is a change. We will also provide two online gatherings this Sunday: 9AM and 11AM. Our team has purchased and implemented some great new equipment so that we can live-stream our in-person gatherings in a high-quality, engaging way. We think this will be a blessing to those who follow online and help both the at-home and in-person gatherings stay connected and unified. 🙂
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! Our online Sunday streams will be at 9AM and 11AM and other online resources with continue. That includes the amazing Citylight Kids Facebook Group for families and children, Lunch Lives, and ongoing social media. We really want both people who gather in-person and people who don’t gather in-person to be part of Jesus’ family and what He’s doing through our church.
What about kiddos? Children will be welcome in our in-person gatherings, but we ask that parents carefully keep their children with them. 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. Parents, it’s 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 we can expect at our in-person gatherings? Great question! Please know that this Sunday is NOT back to normal. It will be different, maybe even awkward. Here’s what you can expect…
- smiles and happy hellos, but no handshakes or hugs or high fives,
- hand sanitizer stations outside and inside our building,
- the doors and windows will be propped open and remain open all morning,
- no coffee, donuts, fruit, or other refreshments,
- no communion served,
- every other row of chairs removed,
- signs to communicate social distancing,
- masks available if you want to use them,
- entering and exiting the building through different doors to avoid congestion,
- requests to take a seat and stay put,
- families sitting together and parents carefully keeping their children with them,
- asking for 3-4 chairs between each unit (a unit could be a family or a couple or a single person), and
- exiting the building quickly after the gathering so we can avoid large groups congregating and have time to clean the building between gatherings.
Is there an attendance capacity for our in-person gatherings? Yes. Please note that we will have an attendance cap of 120 persons per gathering, and if we go over that capacity we will kindly have to ask anyone beyond that number to come back for another gathering or tune in online. Based on attendance patterns in other churches in Council Bluffs and Omaha over the past two weeks, we anticipate that 2 in-person gatherings of 120 persons each should provide enough space for us. But if we hit capacity in either of the gatherings we will work quickly to add gatherings for the following Sunday and keep making room for as many people as possible. We are so sorry if we reach capacity this Sunday. It will break our hearts if we have to ask someone to not come in! We will learn and grow through this together.
Does this mean we will keep on having Sunday gatherings every week? Our elders will continue to take this week by week. We will continue to get communication to you and make our decision as clear as possible each week.
I’m on a Serving Team. Do I need to show up and volunteer? We’ve designed our gatherings in this season (we’re calling it Stage 1) to minimize the need for volunteers so that no one feels obligated to attend in-person gatherings. So, if you’re on a Serving Team, there’s no expectation for you to volunteer this Sunday or any future Sunday. If you really, really want to volunteer, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I disagree with this decision or someone else’s decision about online and in-person gatherings? Great question! Our elders have learned a lot in our praying and talking through these decisions. Here are a couple suggestions:
- Operate on your conscience and respect others’ conscience. 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 celebrate their praying, listening to God, and following His unique lead in their lives.
- Our church’s unity is in Jesus Christ and his glorious mission. Our unity isn’t built on Sunday attendance (in-person or online). As our elders have talked, the moments where we’ve wrestled through decisions together have helped us deepen our unity in Jesus and his mission, even while we’ve expressed different thoughts and feelings about the timing of our in-person gatherings. How precious is unity in Jesus! Jesus said that we are known by our love for each other. May our church show and cherish that love more than ever in these times.
We love you church family! If you have any further questions, ideas, or concerns, please let us know.
Erick and Doug