While we are canceling events, classes, and larger gatherings, we do not believe at this time that canceling Stonegate Groups is a good decision. Gathering in small groups with followers of Jesus who know and love you to study the Scriptures and pray is not optional in the Christian life. Rather, this sort of rich community is essential to a thriving relationship with Jesus. Those words from the opening pages of the Scriptures are true, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
At this point, we do not feel that the current situation necessitates canceling Groups, however, we do trust our Group leaders to pray and seek Jesus for the final decision. Some Groups could have multiple immunocompromised members, which might lead them to forego formal meetings out of love.
Group Changes In Response to COVID-19
Under the current situation, we believe (provided those who attend have no reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not sick) that Groups can and should continue, as long as we make these short-term, but strict, behavioral changes.
- No one present is sick (must be fever free for at least 24 hours) or has any reason to think they have been exposed to COVID-19,
- Shared surfaces are disinfected before and after the meeting,
- Everyone washes their hands thoroughly (20 seconds) upon arrival and upon returning to their home,
- Food and drink are served individually, and
- As much distance as possible is maintained between members of different households and their belongings.
- Paper goods are used for plates, drinks, silverware as much as possible.
Below are the changes we are instructing all Groups leadership to abide by to be an expression of love as we serve those around us:
On Sundays (like March 15), where we don’t have normal Sunday services, we’ll have an online service that can be streamed on Sunday at 9 am (or later that day or week on our media channels). For those Groups that choose to move their Group meeting time to Sunday morning and stream the service together, we’ll provide a guide to Group leaders with direction and questions to serve you.
Opportunity in the Face of Uncertainty
We whole-heartedly believe that Groups are the backbone of our church family. It’s the place our precious people and our community are cared for, known, loved, encouraged, and equipped. Uncertainty provides unique opportunities to minister the good news of Jesus to the hearts of people in our Groups, to befriend neighbors and to find practical needs to meet. We encourage you in your Groups to keep their heads up looking for those types of opportunities where people need the good news of Jesus, practical wisdom and/or necessary help in times such as this. So let’s be ready, church, to be the church as uncertainty comes knocking at the the door. Let us be reminded in community of what is certain (the incredible, bright future Jesus has secured for us) and who is in control (the risen Jesus).
As mentioned in our latest update on March 13th, 2020 from Rodney Hobbs, our lead pastor, it’s worth stressing again that the motive is not and should not be fear. Rather, the motive is love and a concern for the welfare of those around us. May we as a church body come together asking the Lord, who generously gives without reproach, to give us wisdom and discernment (James 1:5) in how we can walk with a fear of the Lord in unity and with hope in the days ahead.
The Groups Team
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