Greetings to our dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are praying that we all together would cling to the promise of Romans 8:28. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This includes the latest restrictions the governor has placed on congregational singing and in home gatherings. God intends to use this for our good by making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
We do value life, safety and health. This includes physical health, social well-being, and spiritual health. We also want to live out these important attitudes.
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17
We are grateful that we are not further restricted in the number we can have in our gatherings. Other states are having much more strict lock-down measures. But, our governor has now restricted congregational singing and indoor social gatherings. Up until now, the elders have taken the position of honoring the requests of the Governor with regards to the gathered church assembly. While this has been very, very inconvenient, we have felt that gathered worship could still be facilitated.
However, this week we are asserting that the most recent Governor's mandates over-extend into the area of the biblical mandates for the church. And as such, we must choose to obey God rather than man. Those mandates are in respect to the biblical practice of worship, specifically singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs to one another.
…be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:19-20
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15-16
Widely available studies from around the world show wearing masks while singing reduces the risk of spreading COVID to the same level of talking with a mask. We know of no spreader events in any of the 20 churches we are closely connected to in Spokane. We know of no spreader events at any churches where mask wearing is practiced. We have petitioned the government and it has provided no scientific data to justify the concern except what occurred before mask mandates and social distancing.
We will continue to follow the cleaning, social distancing, and mask mandates for our church campus gatherings as before and will continue to sing to one another. If the situation changes, we will respond appropriately.
We also believe that the restrictions for in home gatherings are an over-extension of the governor’s authority in the particular area of fulfilling the ‘one anothers’ of scripture. Growth groups, personal visiting for the purpose of spiritual encouragement and practical serving are essential doctrines and practices of the New Testament. Given how broad the phrase ‘religious services’ is in the governor’s orders, it would be fair to argue that these qualify for that. However, with local COVID infections rising and hospitalizations increasing, we believe there is still warrant for caution and it may be prudent to curtail in person meetings for a short time. We are leaving it to individual growth groups and their leaders to decide how they will meet. What we implore you to do is to keep making disciples of Jesus Christ, whether virtually, by phone, on zoom or in person. We also implore you to defer to those whose consciences will not let them risk an in-person gathering (Romans 14). Also defer to those with health concerns, or health care responsibilities. Christians are always willing to sacrifice comfort, pleasure and convenience for the spiritual good of others – Loving the brotherhood
This week in our services we will explore a crucial doctrine called Spheres of Authority which will explain these things in greater detail.
Finally, please continue to pray for us as your elders and for our governing authorities. Situations change and we need to be flexible and godly.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 15:5-6
With Great affection in Christ
The Elders of Faith Bible Church