In light of Governor Brown's banning of gatherings over 250+ people, our services are canceled this Sunday and most likely the three Sundays after. We see this step as both an effort to be socially responsible and to honor our local governing authorities.
That being said, while it is necessary to cancel services, it is impossible to cancel the ministry of the Word and the unity of the body of Christ. We are called to be the Church regardless of our surrounding circumstances. We are the body of Christ whether that is manifested in a gathered or scattered expression.
We want to urge each of you to join us for an online church experience this Sunday. We encourage those who would want to gather in smaller groups to watch it and interact with it together. This will be a great way to still practice community in a safe manner given the unique circumstances.
Those who, for concerns of health, prefer to participate alone are invited to interact in the comments with our online experience.
Now is the time to sit under the authority of God's Word, be in communion with one another, and fervently pray. What our city needs most through this season is a unified, Gospel-centered, persistently praying people present in their midst. To that end, we are offering a unique online experience for our entire church to be a part of together this Sunday.
We are convinced God can flip this for His good.
Jesus is the God who brings something from nothing, beauty from ashes, and life from death. In the same way, shouldn't we believe that the Holy Spirit can and will use this circumstance for the Father's glory and our good? Believing that, here is our hope for our church during the next four weeks of no gatherings:
FOCUS #1 DEEPENING OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH JESUS
Jesus is forever, always, constantly, and centrally our focus as a church. He is the author and perfector of our faith, the alpha and omega, the beginning and end for Rise City Church. So, sitting under the Word comes first and cannot be hindered. Before this Sunday grab a bible, notebook, pen, and highlighter and get ready to grow together in God's Word.
FOCUS #2 BEING CONNECTED + UNIFIED
We feel thankful for God's Providence through technology such as video, audio, and social media. During our digital gatherings, we want to urge each of you to participate as an act of unity. As we gather around a single experience and time of Gospel-teaching we will be doing so as one body. There will be a few highly interactive dimensions integrated into this experience such as teaching, guided prayer, and discussion time.
FOCUS #3 INCLUDING THE ISOLATED
Our mission does not change in the midst of challenging circumstances. We exist so that disciples of Jesus would rise up and bring the Gospel into every home, neighborhood, coffee shop, and space of our community. Seasons of challenge are no exception.
It's safe to assume that as news surrounding the COVID-19 continues to break and evolve, there will be those who feel isolated and alone. We've already heard stories of people from our church whose flights have been canceled or whose loved ones overseas are stranded due to travel restrictions. The local church is called to offer welcome and warmth to the weary. Who in your neighborhood could use the love, service, or invitation? This is an opportunity to see the unseen and invite the hopeless into hope.
What's the plan moving forward? There is nothing we want more than to communicate clearly and consistently as we move forward. One of the challenges we face is that we can't predict the future.
However, whether it's concerning Sunday services or opening the new facility, we are going to be intentionally communicating regularly and transparently, as we have new information about what Sunday gatherings will look like and when the Rise building will open. We want you to be in the loop with every decision as they are made because we are in this together.
Concerning both these things, we have to remain humble, flexible, and agile as a church. Day by day new information and requirements by the state of Oregon can and will be issued, so we are going to have to adjust accordingly. This church is amazing and resilient and we ask that you join us in praying for continued patience and flexibility.
You guys, God has got this. He is not shocked, surprised, or caught off guard by once-in-a-lifetime pandemics that flip our social rhythms on their heads. Draw near to the Rock of Ages and proclaim with your every word and action that Jesus is Lord of your life and this season.
May it all be to His Glory, your joy, and others' good.