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Pastoral Announcement Regarding Church Services (Letter)

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Dear Church Family,
We certainly are living in extraordinary and unusual times! Yet the God who was sufficient last week is still sufficient today and, we are confident, will still be sufficient tomorrow.
There is no such thing as a virtual church. The local church is, by very definition, an assembly of the people of God. As we have emphasized over and over again, each local assembly is a concrete manifestation and anticipation in the present of the glorious bride without spot or wrinkle that will one day be assembled in heaven. Without physically gathering together, we cannot, over the long haul, accomplish our purpose as a congregation.
Yet, in this difficult season in which we find ourselves, gathering together is, for a time, no longer possible. Even apart from the need to protect the health of the congregation, as Christians, we are commanded to “be subject” unto the powers that govern our land until and unless they command us to do something that explicitly contradicts the Word of God. After prayerful consideration, the pastors have decided that the temporary requirements placed upon us by Governor Inslee and President Trump do not contradict the Word of God and must therefore be obeyed “for conscience sake.”
While it is a sin against God to neglect the assembling of ourselves together, it is in no way sinful to be unable to assemble due to temporary circumstances outside of our control. Those who serve in our Navy are not sinning against God when the circumstances of their deployment make it temporarily impossible for them to gather with their churches—and the same basic principle applies to us.
Yet though we cannot presently gather as a church, we, as the pastors of the church, intend to use every means available to us to continue to feed and lead the congregation that has been entrusted to us in every way that we possibly can. While our plans will undoubtedly continue to develop as all of us come to grips with the full extent of what we are facing, here are a few of the things we intend to do over the coming weeks:
1. Beginning this Sunday morning, we will be live-streaming a regular Sunday morning sermon on our website and on facebook at the regular time of 10:00 a.m. We will also continue to make audio and video recordings of the sermons available on our website.
2. While we are still working out the details, we will be live-streaming some form of children’s Bible story at the time of our regular Generations classes (6:00 p.m.) on Sunday evenings.
3. Starting next week, we will begin interactive webinars during the midweek that will continue the series through Genesis that we have been doing on Sunday nights. We will also discuss our weekly reading from the book of the month. The current plan is for these webinars to be live on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. They will also be recorded and made available for those who cannot participate at this time. More details on how this will work will be announced as the time approaches.
4. During these weeks that we cannot provide in-person pastoral care, all four pastors will be doing their best to continue to care for the souls of the congregation. Each member household will be contacted on a regular basis. If there are any needs that you have during this time, please do not hesitate to contact one of the pastors.
5. We will also be working on other ways to encourage families to continue to engage in daily Bible reading and family worship and to stay faithful to the Lord during this time of enforced separation from one another.
While none of these things will be a full substitute for gathering together, they will enable us to continue to engage with the Word of God and with one another, something we must do if our souls are to survive the truly unprecedented challenges that we will face over the next several weeks. As the pastors, we are praying daily that every member of Westside Baptist Church would continue to exemplify faithfulness to the Lord and to his church. We are already looking forward, with eager anticipation, to the celebration we will have when we can once again gather as Christ’s church in Bremerton.
For the good of Christ’s church and the glory of God,
The pastors of Westside Baptist Church
Note: The substance of this announcement is also available in video format.