Dear FBC Family,

I am thankful that I have safely returned home and pray that each of you are safe in the midst of this terrible crisis that has struck the entire world. As things have progressed, the pastors have tried to make wise decisions regarding how we lead. We have been making decisions, to the best of our ability, based on the current information available to us. We cannot make decisions based on others’ or our own speculations about what could or might happen. We do not want to lead out of a position of fear or panic, but in full trust in and obedience to the Lord.

You are likely aware that our government has suggested guidelines to help stop the spread of this pandemic. Our governmental health officials have now set limiting gatherings to the number of 10. Since there is presently no cure or vaccine for this virus, this is the only way to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly disease. Many people are carriers without showing any symptoms. This means you could be in a crowd and infecting others without knowing it.

Therefore, the pastors met yesterday and decided that we need to cancel worship services for at least the next two Sundays (March 22 & 29). It is very possible that the crisis could demand a longer time and we will assess that in the coming weeks. We met last night with deacons and other leaders of the church (via internet) and we unanimously agreed this is the right path forward with the information we now have.

This decision is not reactionary or fear-based, but we believe it is right for at least two reasons. First, Romans 13 instructs us to be “subject to the governing authorities.” We have no reason to believe that this request from our government is an attack upon our religious liberties. This is a genuine crisis and we should trust their recommendations in this circumstance. This is not a matter of “obeying God vs. obeying man.” With what we know at this time, this is part of our call to obey God. It is the God ordained role of government to help protect the lives of its citizens, and we believe they are taking these measures for that very purpose.

Second, because this has the potential to save lives, we should comply out of a love for neighbor. God’s Word not only commands us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, but also to love our neighbor as we do ourselves (Luke 10:27). If our not gathering for worship protects the lives of our neighbor, that is a godly and wise choice to make.

This whole event reminds us that we live in a fallen world and of our great need for the Gospel. It reminds us that God is ultimately in control and how small we really are. Whatever control we think we have is nothing but an illusion. But these are good reminders that should drive out fear and build our trust in the Lord. I hope to bring a message to you this Sunday that will remind us of these very things.

Our plan is not to livestream but to pre-record a service that will be uploaded to our website by Sunday morning. There were multiple reasons we felt this was the best way forward. This will allow families to pause when needed and limit distractions. Often there can be internet interruptions of signal for people and they miss part of the service. If you gather with anyone else to watch other than immediate family, remember to follow CDC guidelines including no more than 10 people.

Please understand, we are not intending to recreate our Sunday morning service. What we will be doing for the next few weeks is not a fulfillment of God’s command in Heb 10:25. These circumstances that are under the sovereign control of God are providentially hindering us from gathering as a body for worship. This should cause us to mourn and pray that the Lord would be gracious and bring us back together soon so that we can join one another in obedience to his command to offer worship together to the one true God. In the meantime, we will take advantage of technology for the good of FBC Lindale.

Details of how to access the video will come to you via email. In fact, by the time you receive this letter, you should have already received communication from the church via phone call, text, and email. If you did not, we most likely do not have current contact information for you. Please call the office to update these. Communication is critical in a time like this and we will be regularly doing so by these various means.

I do feel it necessary to remind you that our financial needs remain even though we are not meeting physically. Although we have put a freeze on all unnecessary spending, regular expenses will still need to be paid. In addition, there will be those in our church who have financial needs brought upon them by this crisis, and we want to be prepared to help our brothers and sisters in need. I am thankful for your faithfulness in giving in the past and know you will continue to be faithful as you are able. You can mail your gifts in or drop them by the office. The finance committee will send a letter out soon detailing our plan during this crisis.

Finally, we will be working to bring regular updates to the church and to provide the spiritual care that you need. The pastors and deacons intend to remain on call to carry out the work of our church and to minister to you. You are our work in the Lord. We love you and miss being with you. If you are in need, do not hesitate to call upon us. Christ laid his life down for the sheep and we are willing to lay our lives down for you if necessary.

Pray that God will give us wisdom as we lead this church and strive in prayer for you. Pray for the spiritual and physical well-being of the members of our congregation. And pray that God will use all of this for his glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

In His Grace,

Pastor Tom