Response to Governor
May 29, 2020
As you may have heard, our state has changed status in regard to gathering in our building. Please know we are working hard with these new guidelines to make certain we are carefully and safely working through details to begin gathering in the building. We will let you know as soon as dates and times are ready to announce. The last thing we want to do is put others at risk by moving more quickly than we should. Remember, we are still worshipping together - scattered.
Statement Regarding Re-opening for Corporate Worship
May 18, 2020
We are in the midst of a pandemic none of us has witnessed before. Our government leaders are making decisions based on the latest information they have. Your church leaders are doing the same.
Not being together in our building is difficult and unusual. And yet, we’ve also experienced higher attendance via online worship services than when we were in our building. Giving has remained consistent. We’ve been safe and innovative in serving others who are in need in our community. Despite the negative emotions about being sheltered at home and not gathering corporately for worship, God has shown his goodness and faithfulness to us.
Every church impacted by the government’s guidelines has had to wrestle with difficult decisions. As the situation and guidelines have changed, we’ve evaluated our options, and then re-evaluated them. We want to update you on our decisions as of today.
- The mission of First Christian Church is to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ by growing and serving together. We have been providing online worship and additional programming to help people grow in their love for God. We are also continuing to serve our community in safe ways to show love for others. We would even say by abiding by the governor’s executive order, we are demonstrating our love for the least of us in our community—the sick, immunocompromised, and the elderly. We have not been ordered to stop worshipping, but rather, to limit our group size to avoid infecting others. Therefore, we will continue to abide by the governor’s plan and worship at home. Worshipping at home is not less than, but it is different. We are very anxious to be allowed to come together as soon as possible. We believe we need to be patient, listen and respect the authorities, and look for innovative ways to “be the church” during this time.
- We are continually updating our plans for reopening as we receive more information from the authorities. Phase 2-Flattening is projected to end on May 29, 2020. We hope Macon County will then move into Phase 3-Recovery. Phase 3 still requires gatherings to remain under 10 people. Worship will remain online during Phase 3 unless governing authorities allow places of worship to open with more than 10 people in attendance. Phase 4 allows for gatherings of up to 50 people.
- We cannot release a re-open date at this time, however, we are not planning to reopen until Phase 4, which will allow 50 or less to gather. Then, we plan to host multiple worship services in multiple places throughout our building while remaining under 50 people per area. This means for a congregation our size having multiple auditoriums open at many service times to accommodate our pre-Covid-19 attendance numbers. We have many worshipers over the age of 65, as well as others who are immunocompromised, in the life of our congregation, and we want to protect them from exposure. As the governor’s re-opening plan now states, places of worship will not fully open until Phase 5. At that time, we would expect to have worship services in the building with no restrictions as we continue to practice health safety in all programming.
- The Macon County Health Department has provided guidelines for drive-in church. Drive-in church would allow more people to be on the church property at one time while remaining in their cars. However, the guidelines only allow for half of the parking spots to be utilized. Everyone must remain in vehicles with windows rolled up. The church building would not be accessible – even for restroom use. The layout of our parking lot would ensure that a majority of people in vehicles would not be able to see anything. The result would be a less than desirable experience, and certainly not the kind of worship experience to which we have become accustomed. Church Online provides a much better worship experience at this time. Therefore, we have decided not to further pursue the option of drive-in church, but understand for other churches in our area, drive-in church could be a good transition step.
- We believe it is essential to be mindful of our witness to outsiders. There are thousands of people in Macon County who did not attend church before the pandemic, but are now watching our response, and maybe even our online worship. Will we submit to authority or will we rebel? We believe it is the proper posture to submit to authority and demonstrate an attitude of humility. We remain “the church” even as we are scattered across the county. Although we gather online to worship God each weekend, it is important to remember worship is not just a weekend activity, but rather a lifestyle. Therefore, we choose to demonstrate humility toward authority and abide by guidelines provided for all large group gatherings, of which our congregation size indicates.
We believe it is vital to keep in mind the government has not exclusively closed our church. Other businesses and gatherings of large numbers of people are limited. We are not being singled out from other large group gatherings such as schools, concerts and movies. We have had to be more creative and innovative in how we facilitate growing in our love for God and ways we serve others. It has not been easy. However, it has produced fruit.
We are monitoring the situation closely and expect changes to come, hopefully sooner, rather than later. Those changes might include various groups of our congregation meeting in homes. We will also pursue managing groups of less than 50 at the building as soon as possible.
Our decisions have been influenced by men and women in healthcare who are part of the life of First Christian Church. We have sought counsel and learning from other church leaders in states across the nation who are opening ahead of us. We have been diligent in seeking God’s guidance as we make difficult decisions.
It has been encouraging to see the innovation from churches across our community and nation. The pandemic has forced us to “be the church” in new ways, and, as a result, people are being reached with the message of hope of the Gospel. Yes, we are not meeting together in a building like we are used to doing. Yet, we can seize the opportunity to reach people who have never stepped foot in our buildings.
We understand some may not agree with our position. We still love you and consider you to be part of the life of First Christian Church even when we disagree. We ask you to continue to pray for the leaders of First Christian Church, our community, state and nation as we all seek what is best for those we love. We also appreciate your faithful giving during this time that allows us to continue to reach our community for Christ.
- THE LEADERSHIP TEAM OF FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
ONLINE WORSHIP SERVICES
Saturday at 5pm
Sunday at 9am & 10:30am
We love the people of Decatur. So, to help protect those we love from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be hosting worship services ONLINE ONLY until further notice. Worship services will be live streamed at Church Online Platform, YouTube, and Facebook Live. If you've never watched church online, scroll down for tips to a great online experience.
Visit the "What's Happening" page below for the latest news:
May the peace of Christ rule our hearts and minds - today and the days ahead.
Tips for a Great Online Experience!
You can watch any of our worship services online at firstdecatur.org/churchonline on any device. A church online host is present during every worship service to answer any questions you may have as well as guide you through the worship service. A church online host can also pray with you privately through our online prayer chat. You can also interact with others watching church online.
- CREATE AN ACCOUNT IN ADVANCE
In order to prepare for the weekend services, consider creating an online account at firstdecatur.org/churchonline in advance.
- CHECK YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION
You will need to have high-speed internet in order to have a smooth worship experience with no interruptions.
- HAVE A BIBLE
Have a bible and pen/paper ready to take notes.
- ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
This will help you have a wonderful worship experience.
The video will begin with no audio so you will need to unmute it. There is a button in the lower right-hand corner of the video screen where you can unmute the audio.
- ONLINE GIVING
Participate in worship through giving in a secure, easy manner at firstdecatur.org/give.