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UPDATE: Read the latest info on in-person gatherings.

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Northshore Community Church

Hey Northshore,

I want to update you regarding our plans to resume ministry on campus.

If you are anything like me, you spent your summer thinking, “I can get through this as long as life gets back to normal this fall.” Well, fall is here, and whether we like it or not, life is still far from normal.

As you know, infection rates have been trending in a better direction, but we are still a long way from being able to resume in-person ministry activity. Not only that, but our recent attendee survey indicated the majority of you are not yet ready to meet on campus. While several churches have resumed on-campus services, none have been able to host adequate experiences for kids, and in-person attendance has remained low. No matter the precautions we take, we cannot guarantee a safe environment or create a quality experience for both adults and kids with social distancing in place.

So, after much prayer and discussion, our Board of Overseers voted unanimously to continue worshipping online-only through the end of 2020.

This was not an easy decision to make, and I know there will be a variety of responses. Some of you may feel relieved. Others of you may feel disappointed or frustrated. Some of you may even interpret this politically or think our leaders are acting in fear rather than faith.

I understand all those perspectives. It would be a lot easier for me if we were meeting in our building. It would a lot easier to preach to a room with people actually in it. But this isn’t about me, this is about the neighbors and neighborhoods God has called us to serve.

Some churches and church leaders have suggested that it is our duty as Christians to re-open our buildings and not let anyone infringe on our right to gather together, because our ultimate authority is God, not human beings.

We could not agree more—our ultimate authority at Northshore is God. But, as sacred as our right to gather may be, the New Testament could not be more clear that the rights of Christ-followers are always secondary to the witness of Christ-followers. This is why the early church always prioritized the integrity of their witness over the format of their gathering.

What’s most important for us is not where we are meeting, but how our message is being received by others. Right now, resuming ministry on campus would tell our neighbors we believe our right to gather is more important than their safety.

Some of you may be wondering, why decide this through the end of the year? Shouldn’t we wait and see what happens? Honestly, part of the problem with living in the COVID era is being stuck in a perpetual wait and see mode. We already have to wait and see when it comes to government restrictions, school openings, and vaccine possibilities. It’s so easy to fall into that way of thinking when it comes to our spiritual lives, so we think, “Let’s wait and see when we can be back on campus or meet in person.”

However, Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to wait and see. He told them to make disciples, no matter the circumstances. The Bible never called us to go to church but to be the church. Over the last six months, we’ve seen what God can do when a church family takes that seriously.

We haven’t had an in-person worship service in over six months, but we’ve baptized new believers, had people engage our church who’ve never been to our campus before, have more people connecting in Life Groups now than ever before, and given over a million dollars away in relief. I knew God could lead us through this pandemic, but didn’t expect God to do all that, so shame on me.

While I miss being together in person and look forward to the day when we can safely gather on campus, I believe that now is the time not to wait and see when we can go back to church, but show the world that we are the church. Now is the time not to aim for re-gathering, but a revival in the Puget Sound and beyond.

That will take each one of us committing not just to get through this season, but to leverage this season. To use every moment, every problem, and every disappointment as an opportunity for Jesus to do what COVID-19 cannot stop Jesus from doing, which is changing hearts, minds, and lives.

To help you do that, our staff is going to dedicate our time and resources not to debating if, when, and how we can hold services on campus, but to help you grow in your life with God right now. We’re going to update and improve all our digital resources. We’re going to continue meeting in Life Groups, where we can be the hands and feet of Jesus for each other because we need each other now more than ever. We’re going to continue serving our neighbors and those in need. We’re also going to plan limited in-person gatherings like drive-thru communion and pop-up kids events to help us stay connected, so be on the lookout for those.

But none of that stuff is just about us. It’s about our neighbors and our neighborhoods because that’s who Jesus called us to love and serve.

I know some of you still have questions, and you can email us anytime at info@northshore.church. We also have an online Family Meeting coming up on September 27, so save the date for that.

Also, make sure you join us this Sunday for the launch of our new series, Now is the Time. We’re going to look at why this decision isn’t just a response to COVID but is based on the very first words Jesus ever said and the very assignment Jesus ever gave. Jesus not only knew this was coming, but he also gave his followers specific instructions on how to navigate times like this.

This is why I couldn’t be more confident that not only will we get through this season but will be a stronger church for it. Because this is Jesus’ church. When the world is at its worst, that’s when the church is called to be our very best. I have all the confidence in the world that together, we can do just that.

So, I hope you will join us this weekend and hear me out. I hope you will choose to come along for what I think is going to our best year of ministry yet. But until then, thank you for listening. We love you, we are praying for you, and we will see you this Sunday.