As North Carolina begins moving into phases of re-opening, the question has come to the local church, “When will we reopen?”
Let’s be honest, we’re all excited to see the doors of our buildings open back up again. But before we try to answer that question, it’s necessary that we reframe it. Because throughout this season of global pandemic and stay-at-home orders, Mercy Hill Church, and God’s global Church for that matter, has never closed.
In the last few months since we’ve been gathering virtually, Mercy Hill has seen some amazing things. Our Kids Ministry has watched families intentionally disciple their children at home and 8 kids have come to faith since April. Our Students Ministry has seen kids from the fringe jumping into small groups and discipleship opportunities. Our college ministry is kicking off their Sent summer study with 40 students committed to diving into the book of Hebrews together, and our community groups have been experiencing record attendance numbers since March.
One thing is clear:
Mercy Hill Church never really “closed”, and the Lord is using this season in powerful ways to grow us in our faith and to continue calling lost people to Himself. It’s being proven to followers of Jesus across the world that the church is not a building, it is a movement.
Our mission at Mercy Hill is to make disciples and multiply churches. Just because we can open our doors again, doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective way to pursue that mission. So instead of asking “When can we reopen?” our leadership team has been prayerfully asking, “When will opening the buildings be the most effective way that we can make disciples and multiply churches?”
We may have legal permission to open the buildings, but the complexity of the pandemic would have significant effects on the worship experience and kids’ ministry. Imagining this reality, we have to consider that in this season, maybe the buildings are not the right tool for the moment.
Our leadership team wants to offer a plan for Mercy Hill that focuses on effectiveness and fruitfulness. We’ve been so grateful for the commitment of the church to move and grow alongside of us as we find the tools that are best suited to ministry in the new normal. Right now, we are leveraging our resources to create an online platform that fulfills our mission and keep us connected. We praise God for this technology, because He’s been using it to do incredible things! When the day comes that buildings once again become that most effective strategy, we will open the doors wide and celebrate that physical reunion. We know we’re not there yet, but we’re looking forward to that day.
One thing we know will be true though: whenever we do open the buildings back up, there will be some among us who think it was too early, and some that think it was too late. There are as many varying opinions on this topic as there are people that comprise Mercy Hill Church.
So, we are calling the church to a John 17 type of love for one another that confounds the world. It won’t matter if we open a month early or two weeks later nearly as much as the way that we treated each other and thought of one another in the process. The spirit that we maintain in weighing these decisions will mark us, whether that be with suspicion and judgment, or grace and compassion. We pray that our church will choose to fight for the latter, even if they disagree on the outcome.
The pastors and leadership team are doing our absolute best to navigate these issues with wisdom and clarity, so I pray that you’ll be gracious with us and continue to lean into the ministry that God has given you during this time. We’re seeing the Lord use this moment in the life of our church to do more than we could have asked or imagined. We don’t want to miss it. Lean into the His grace in this season and pray alongside of us for the Lord’s leading in how He desires us to see disciples made and churches multiplied in the Triad and to the ends of the earth.
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