Outdoor Service Information & FAQ's
HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FOR OUR OUTDOOR SERVICES
ONE - BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
- Our outdoor service is dependent on the weather. We will always do our best to communicate any changes to the plans via Facebook, email, and our app. If it’s raining, expect it to be canceled. Church Online will still be an option.
- If you’re sick, have underlying health risks or concerns, please worship from home.
- Bring lawn chairs! We will have chairs available but we thought you might prefer the comfort of your own seat.
TWO - AS YOU PULL IN THE PARKING LOT
-If space allows, consider leaving a parking space between yourself and the next vehicle open. If the lot gets full then you can start to fill in the in-between spots.
-Be careful of the traffic patterns. Instead of the main entrance people will be walking through the parking lot toward the northwest lawn (see attached map). So, just keep an eye out for people in places you don’t normally see them walking.
THREE - DURING THE SERVICE - (See Attached Map for service layout)
-Allow for six-feet of space. No hugging or handshakes, and be courteous of how closely you’re walking and standing.
-Masks are encouraged even outdoors and we will have masks available as you enter, if you need one.
-Communion will be prepackaged. You’ll be able to pick up communion as you come into the service. Offering baskets will also be available around the area.
-Set up your chairs 6 feet from other family groups. Because we’re outdoors, you can sit as far away as you are comfortable!
-We have a good, loud, speaker system, so you should be able to sit wherever you like and still hear and see what’s going on.
-We hope to be able to sing together very soon but, for now, we’re going to focus on other forms of worship.
-We aren’t able to offer kids classes yet. Kids are welcome and we’ll be prepared with coloring pages and crayons if you need it.
-If you need to use the restroom the bathrooms inside the building are available. (See map below for access to the bathrooms.)
-The service will last about 45 minutes to an hour.
FOUR - AS YOU LEAVE -
-Feel free to stick around and talk and encourage one another from a safe distance.
-The outdoor services are a work-in-progress. If we can make it work well, it’s something we may plan to do a lot more of this summer! Who knows, we may get crazy and do it every week!
-Stay tuned for adjustments and updates to the services as we get more information!
FAQ and Concerns About Resuming Services:
Aren’t we supposed to obey God rather than men, if we want to sing or hug, shouldn’t we do those things anyway?
True, there may be times where Christians are called to defy rather than submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1) We hope to be prepared for moments like that, but this isn’t one of them. First of all, the goal of our state regulation is to try to keep people safe. Loving people by trying to protect them is part of the disciples' moral code, too! So, this is one of those interesting situations where an expectation to meet together or “greet with a holy kiss”, is coming into conflict with the expectation to love others. We have been praying for wisdom and discernment and, while this might not be the most popular route, we feel confident we’re acting out of love, which is our highest calling. (Galatians 5:14)
Why the big push to get back together? Isn’t the church more than just the building?
Yes! The building is just a tool for discipleship. It’s merely a convenience that would have been a luxury for Christians throughout history. The fellowship and encouragement that is vital to discipleship could happen almost anywhere that disciples can gather. However, as many of us have experienced, it is difficult (verging on impossible for some) for this to happen via Youtube or even a video call. So, while it doesn’t have to be in the building, there are members that are struggling and need to be present with one another.
What if I believe that the safety precautions go too far?
We understand. However, we have to have a guiding principle to allow us to make a decision. Given that none of us are experts, as we try to map our way forward, we have decided to listen to the official guidelines. If in a few months, we realize that we were all wrong, that’s OK! At least we were wrong trying to love people.
I have heard that the number of cases in Minnesota is going up. Is it really wise to consider resuming services right now?
There are a couple of items to consider here. First of all, hospitalizations and ICU cases are decreasing. The cases of infections are going up but that seems to be due to a dramatic increase in testing rather than an increase in infection rates. Here’s the link for that information.
We don’t make this decision lightly. However, we are trying to balance both physical and spiritual concerns. A significant number of our church family have expressed that they’re struggling. The inability to interact with and receive encouragement from fellow Christians has taken a toll on their faith, and honestly, we feel it too. Therefore, we think the best path forward is to listen to guidelines we’ve been given and do our best to safely meet in person together. We certainly do not expect it to be something everyone can or will do.
Another item to consider is that, because this is such a new, and thus fluid situation, even the experts are adjusting how they address it (Remember at first we were told "no masks”?). So, the extreme restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic were the best response with limited information. As experts have become more aware of how the virus works, they’ve been able to scale back the most extreme precautions. This is actually good news, it means that smart people are starting to figure out solutions. We should be glad for that fact. No one is going to get it perfect, so that’s why it’s OK to adapt as we go.
I don’t feel comfortable coming. Am I going to feel like a second-class Christian if I continue to worship at home?
We hope not! We are committed to continuing to provide a worship-from-home experience. We will also be diligent and aware of our members that are staying home and do our best to stay connected to folks who aren’t able to be with us in person. This is an ongoing process and we’ll adjust and adapt as we go. Please let us know what you need!
I’m afraid it will be awkward with all the safety guidelines.
So, there’s a good chance that the normal Sunday traditions will have to change a little but sometimes that’s a good thing! And sure, it might be a little awkward but that's a small price to pay to encourage and be encouraged. Maybe God can push us into a deeper love for one another. Sure, any change can be uncomfortable but, at the risk of being cliche, we’re all in this together!
I’m nervous you all won’t actually enforce the safety precautions.
This is why we’re trying to be extremely clear about the expectations. We will be there to gently remind folks to keep the guidelines. Of course, there is always the risk that people may, accidentally or not, do something that you’re uncomfortable with. We are definitely trusting people to what is kind.
I hear that we won’t be singing right away? That’s the thing I miss the most. What’s up with that?
We totally get it. Singing is such a part of our heritage that it can almost feel like going without oxygen. However, both the state guidelines and the experts strongly discourage singing because it potentially spreads the virus around much further than just breathing or talking. We are hopeful that this will be one of the adjustments we can make sooner rather than later. We are also working on adaptations to our service to figure out how to make safe singing a greater part of it. Although singing is more fun with a group, we do hope that you are singing praises at other times too. Singing is part of worship, but it’s not the only way to worship.
I’m getting everything I need online, so, while I don’t have any health concerns, I’ll probably just enjoy church from my couch from now on.
We have people who will desperately want to be present, in-person with the church but won’t be able to do so. We are going to work hard to help them feel as connected as they can until they’re able to meet with us. However, if you’re healthy or comfortable and safe being around people, you should strongly consider being present if at all possible (Hebrew 10:25) Scripture emphasizes a disciples’ need for other people, which is why the seclusion and quarantine should be about safety, not convenience.