March 18, 2020
We are experiencing a very unique situation in the life of the contemporary American Church. New information and opinion pieces from medical, economic, political, and religious “experts” are published every single day. Most of us have invested many hours reading reports/watching articles/news conferences concerning the coronavirus. At times it feels overwhelming. I have spoken with medical professionals who do not see eye to eye with one another on this matter and I have many godly pastor-friends who hold varying opinions in terms of how the local church should respond to this crisis. As Christians we need to be very careful not to sinfully judge others based on our own personal convictions. Satan would love nothing more than to divide the Body of Christ during this global pandemic. We must love each other and believe the best of one another in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13. Many unbelievers are dealing with extreme anxiety and with crippling panic attacks. We Christians are not immune to this (note John 14). From heaven’s point of view, this trial provides believers with the unique opportunity to testify of “the hope that lies within us” and to be “salt and light” in a very dark world. Jesus promises believers (who walk by faith) “a peace that surpasses all understanding” and the Holy Spirit produces within our hearts the fruit of “joy and thankfulness” even in the midst of trials (Phil. 4). This situation presents a tremendous context for believers to share the gospel with a lost and dying world. It also provides us with a unique opportunity to care for one another as the family of God. May God help us to be faithful stewards.
As noted in our previous congregational letter we are going to make major decisions related to ministry and corporate worship on a week by week basis. We believe this is wise because every 24 hours new information, guidelines, and mandates are passed. For example, just two weeks ago it was recommended that people not gather in crowds of over 250. Then this week the WI Governor officially barred gatherings of over 50 people. This afternoon he changed his position to barring gatherings of over 10 people. We should fervently pray for our government leaders as they make important decisions that impact the lives of people around the world.
What is the leadership of LCBC’s biblical perspective on this situation? What is our current plan? On one hand the God of the Bible commands believers “to not forsake the regular assembly of believers” for the purpose of biblical instruction, fellowship, worship, and service (Heb. 10:25-26; Col. 3:16). The Lord’s Day is fundamental to the growth and maturation of God’s people. The Holy Spirit even adds, we are to come together regularly “all the more as we see the Day approaching.” If you read Iain Murray’s biography on the famed pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones you will read first- hand accounts of how Christians continued to worship together as Nazi Germany relentlessly bombed the city of London. On the other hand, the Bible also says that Christians are to obey governing authorities and to follow their laws (per Rom. 13). If the Government tells us to pay taxes, then Jesus said we must pay taxes (Mark 12:17). The Providence of God has allowed this virus to spread and world rulers have been forced to make many important decisions. Acts 5:29 adds the caveat however that if the secular state forbids something that God commands, (or if they mandate something God forbids), “We must obey God rather than man.” Daniel, for example, was told he could not pray to the true God. Daniel was a faithful servant of the king, but his ultimate allegiance was to the true King of kings (and so he continued praying in public sight and was thrown into the Lion’s Den). Most like-minded church leadership teams believe this is currently a Romans 13 situation (and that we need to follow the reasonable “mandates” of our respective state leaders). Other Spirit-filled, Word-driven pastors/Christians believe this is more of an Acts 5:29 situation; (that we must obey God rather than man). We need to acknowledge that sometimes Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians view multi-layered, wisdom situations differently. Luke provides a biblical example of this in Acts 15:39. The Holy Spirit does not side with either Paul or Barnabas, he simply tells us these godly men had a “sharp disagreement.” As noted above, Satan works overtime trying to divide and destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. We must not be ignorant of his schemes!
We firmly believe that unity in the church generally trickles from the top down. As such the elders and I have worked overtime to prayerfully work through how to respond to this (unique) coronavirus situation. Our practice is to not make a major decision until we all agree that “this is what we believe is the wisest/best coarse of action for our church.” In talking with many of our faithful members, we realize that no decision we make will satisfy everyone. We ask that you extend love and grace to us, and to one another, as we seek to honor Jesus Christ with our decisions. We are doing our best to glorify God in this crisis! We believe you are too!
In no particular order:
- In response to our WI Governor’s general “ban” on public gatherings- all ministry activities have been put on hold. From the Ladies Titus Tea, to “Renewing Your Mind,” to our mid- week activities and Sunday morning equipping classes, and our morning worship services. This “public health” crisis impacts every sector of life, including the ministries of the local church. This leads to number 2.
- Our tech team is working overtime to install the needed technology to live-stream our entire Sunday morning worship service. Last week the morning sermon was successfully broadcast in real time using “Facebook Live.” This is not ideal, but we believe unique times call for creative responses. Every single pastor that I have spoken with is setting up Sunday morning “live-stream services.” We’ve been told this large gathering “ban” could be enforced in WI for up to 2 months. So if you need help taking advantage of these “live- stream” services, we have a group willing to help you stay connected with your church family. Please call Cathy Solon or one of our Asst. Pastors (Kent and Josh) if you need help. We want to help you stay connected and to make it easy for you to be feed on a weekly basis.
On Sunday we hope that our entire Worship Service will be streamed. You can find our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LakeCountryBible/ or stream through our church website at http://www.lakecountrybible.org/live/ . If you need help, as noted, please reach out to us.
- If you need help with groceries (or have other pressing care needs) please call the church office or contact one of our elders/deacons. We have many servant-minded individuals who have offered their service to anyone in need. We especially want to care for the Senior Saints within our church family. If you need something, please reach out and we will do our best to come alongside of you.
- Please, please, please consider using the church directory to call 2 or 3 LCBC’ers every week. We would encourage you to reach out to those you do not know very well. What a great opportunity we have to deepen the fellowship of the saints! Ask fellow LCBC’ers how they are doing? Find out if they have any prayer requests? Let’s honor the Lord by working hard to stay connected during this crisis. The Body of Christ and the local church is God’s wonderful gift. We were never intended to live out the Christian life alone. Let’s encourage one another beloved! To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not ‘what can my church do for me, ask what would God have me to do to help my local church?’”
- Financial needs and Congregational Giving. Your normal tithes and offerings are critically important as we continue to support missionaries, make mortgage payments, support our church staff, etc.. We need everyone to continue to support the ministry of the church (as Providence allows).
We are working hard to try and set up on-line giving. Once that is established, we will let you know. In the meantime, you can drop your offering by the church or can mail it to: LCBC, Attn: Paul D; N45W32481 Watertown Plank Rd, Nashotah, WI 53058.
Please pray for those who have businesses that have been shut down. Not everyone can work because of the emergency regulations that have been passed by our state officials.
- God’s will for our life is not a secret. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read this, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In Philippians 4 we read, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
- I hope to “see you” this Sunday at 10:15 AM via our FACEBOOK LIVE- livestream worship service. https://www.facebook.com/LakeCountryBible/ or http://www.lakecountrybible.org/live/ If you need help getting live- stream set-up please contact the church office. You do not need a Facebook account to participate (instead of “Create New Account”, select “Not Now”). You can also access the sermon audio from our website www.lakecountrybible.org. If you need someone to pray with, please let us know that too! We are here for you! We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ!
Pastor Caleb Kolstad
(on behalf of the LCBC leadership teams)