The Way Back

19 June 2020


SLE Church COVID-19 Plan – ‘The Way Back’

1. Preamble

It’s now the middle of June and things are definitely looking up. The numbers of COVID-19 infections and active cases are very low here in Queensland. Restaurants have opened up for dining, the footy is back on, and people are visiting each other and hanging out again in small groups.

And I’m sure many of you are wondering… When do we get back to the church building? When can we meet together here at Ryans Road for church services?

Short Answer

And the answer is: this will take some time.

It will be quite a while to go before we can meet together as a church again in the way we used to, as two congregations, all together.

2. The Situation

Let me explain the current situation and how this impacts us and our gathering together.

  • We are currently in stage 2 of the government’s 3-stage roadmap to recovery for restrictions.
  • There is a 20-person limit for gatherings now. From July 10, this will increase to 100-persons.

This is great, but the key restriction that remains is the 4m2 rule. This means that we cannot have full congregations back. Our North Hall fits 28 people and our South Hall fits 60 people under this 4m2 restriction.

And if we sing, then the restriction is 7m2 per person, because singing causes more spit, and more spit is bad for virus spread!

Also, we won’t be able to share in communion, share food, shake hands, give hugs and all of those wonderful things. Services won’t be like they used to be.

So, for some time yet, we won’t be gathering back at church for services.

3. The Plan

So, what should we do instead?

What we need to do is to keep balancing important priorities.

One priority is PHYSICAL health

We need to keep abiding by the government guidelines knowing that they are an authority over us and they are seeking to protect public health.

We also want to keep being loving to those who are vulnerable.

The other priority is SPIRITUAL health.

Physically gathering together is one of the most important aspects of being God’s church. Church literally means gathering.

We gather physically to express and remind ourselves of who we are – we are the church, the body of Christ, the family of God.

We also gather to encourage each other, to spur each other on, to do all the ‘one another’ things that the New Testament instructs us to do – love one another, teach one another, admonish one another, pray for one another.

In light of this, let me work through the plan that the Church Elders and Council would like the church to get behind.

  • We will continue to livestream our 9 and 11:40am services
  • We strongly encourage and urge everyone to watch the livestream in small group gatherings in people’s homes – to have small home churches of SLE scattered across Brisbane
    • It could be within fellowship groups.
    • It could be a mix of demographics.
    • And it’d be great if you could invite a non-Christian friend or 2 to join you.
  • We strongly encourage each fellowship group to start meeting physically in some way within the 20 person limits and 4m2 requirements
    • The church facilities are available for use, but booking and following the policies for use are essential
    • Please contact our administrator, Winnie, for more information and booking

I know some are already meeting together physically. That’s great!

Some of you aren’t yet, but you are convinced it’s important, just not sure how to get started. Do get in touch with your ministry leader for some ideas. Or get in touch with one of the staff to help you out.

There are some who will be tempted to stay as you are. Newtown’s First Law of Motion states that ‘an object at rest stays at rest’. This is true not just for physical objects, but for our attitudes as well. Some of us might thing that it’s too much effort to have people over or go over to someone else’s place. We’ve gotten so comfortable doing things in our own time, in the comfort of our own homes…. On our own.

Can I encourage you to resist that?

It is spiritually detrimental to not meet physically… and it’s already been 3 long months of little to no gatherings for some of you…

It will take conviction and effort to start meeting again. I hope that you will be up for it!

4. The Longer Term

So, this is the plan for the next month at least, but likely to be longer.

  • The council will keep reviewing things as we move into the next phase
  • We are resisting making many small changes frequently to prevent confusion and change fatigue
  • We are also mindful that we want to make plans that will be able to include most, if not, all people

But the final word I want to leave you with is from God’s word. Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

We can’t get back to what we were used to just yet, but we mustn’t neglect meeting together. Let’s do that as small churches on Sunday and through the week. Let’s press on and do that!

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