Reopening Plan for TLC
At Tree of Life Church, we want you to know what to expect as we move forward through this difficult season. Based on the minimal threat of COVID-19 to the general public based on CDC statistics and data, as well as seeking guidance from local governmental authorities, and most importantly, based on guidance from God’s word through His Holy Spirit; we will be opening the church doors for in person worship services on June 7, 2020. As we return to weekly Sunday morning worship services, not everything will resume all at once. We will be following a modified approach to our Sunday morning worship services as well as our midweek and summer programming schedule. The Wisdom from Solomon taught to us through Ecclesiastes reveals that a three stranded chord is not easily broken. Guided by this wisdom, we are offering a three-pronged approach as we attempt to meet the needs of ever member and visitor who comes to worship with us! Our fellowship has been interrupted and broken for long enough and we believe the following 3-pronged approach will help strengthen, establish protection, and allow freedom for all who seek to worship together.
- For those most vulnerable among us, whether due to age, health condition, or concern over the risks associated with acquiring COVID-19 and cannot or do not want to attend in person gatherings; we encourage you to continue participating with our worship services online. We will live stream on Facebook and are looking to add other online streaming options in the near future. If you are not able to participate by watching our live stream, each week’s live streaming video will be posted on the website for you to watch at your convenience. We are also pursuing the feasibility of adding an FM transmitter to allow anyone who may not feel comfortable entering the church building but may want to come to the church parking lot and listen to our worship service from their vehicle.
- For those of you who want to gather for in person worship services, we welcome you inside the church with the following guidelines and recommendations:
- Chairs will be set up to follow physical distancing for families and individuals inside the sanctuary.
- Mask wearing is advised by our local government but will not be enforced by our church leadership. Mask wearing will be based on the comfort level and personal conviction of each individual or family. I would encourage each person to have a mask available for use if another member or visitor would request the use of one while interacting with them. We seek to follow the law of love and the freedom of conscience outlined in Romans 14. Please read this chapter as a point of reference for conduct between Christian brothers and sisters over issues that are not straight forward or always clear.
- Hand Sanitizer will be available in the lobby, bathrooms, and placed strategically throughout the facility.
- We will NOT offer nursery and children’s church immediately when we open. For those who need nursery service, you will be free to use our Nursery, but we will not be staffing it. We understand and apologize for the difficulty this may present to some families with young children. This soft opening approach will allow us time to poll our congregation with each family’s comfort level as well as allow time for our staff of volunteers to develop a plan for a modified children’s church in the future. Our staff of volunteers and children’s church leaders have not been able to meet in person for a proper planning and reopening strategy. We are all having to adjust our expectations and approach to the COVID-19 world we are living in. Everything is fluid with governmental regulations and recommendations which is making it difficult to interpret, respond, and implement new protocols for our worship services.
- We believe, according to Jesus’ commissioning and the command of Scripture, that in person worship services are the truest expression of soul satisfying, God glorifying, and Christ conforming worship! With that being said, we understand these are unprecedented times which require creative and Holy Spirit inspired solutions. The difficult circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis have forced us to accept, for a time, alternative ways of expressing and experiencing worship together. Thankfully, technology and live streaming platforms have helped us stay connected while being apart. We are encouraging the continued use of such technology as a supplement to, but not replacement of, in person gatherings. For those who feel it’s necessary to stay home and continue live streaming Sunday morning worship services, we are asking you to consider hosting small group watch parties on Sunday mornings with neighbors or friends. This is a great opportunity to invite someone “to church” in your home who might not come to our church building. Luke 5:17 –20 provides both the inspiration and encouragement for this approach:
“17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Not able to get near to Jesus, being hindered or kept away because of his limitations, the paralytic encountered Jesus through the faith of his friends. We are asking you to engage your faith for the sake of your friends. There are many people around us who may be kept from Jesus because of their limitations. Through the paralysis of fear, shame, or guilt; these limitations needlessly separate friends and neighbors from Christ. Some may fear large group gatherings or going too far from home due to the coronavirus. Some may be hindered by past or present sins which keep them separated and bound in the prison of silent shame. Some may be weighed down by the unbearable burden of guilt from a past they feel hopelessly bound to, like the paralytic unable to free himself from his mat. Some may be intimidated by coming to a church building for fear of being judged.
My challenge to you is this. Allow God to turn the unique and unprecedented experience we are living through into an occasion for God to use your home as a place for others to encounter Jesus. Instead of four friends helping one man encounter Jesus, be the one home that gathers four others to encounter Jesus. Opening the door of your home for a live streaming worship service is very little work compared to lifting someone up and lowering them through the roof of a house. Surely, if four men could rise to the challenge of getting one man through the roof of a house to meet Jesus, one of you could open the door of your home for four people who may meet Jesus by watching a live streaming service together. Please read the account from Luke 5 and consider how you might be a friend to your neighbor by bringing them to your home to meet Jesus.
As we do our best to chart a path forward while following God’s lead, the leadership at Tree of Life Church is praying that no one will feel lost because of this time apart and that no one will feel left behind as we move forward. The path forward will be difficult for many reasons but not impossible. No one person will have all the answers which means it will take a team of friends who work together to care for others as we come back together. We look forward to seeing all who desire to gather for in person worship next week. God Bless You and Keep you and may He cause His Face to Shine Upon you.
~ Pastor Eric and the leadership team of TLC
SUNDAYS | 9:30AM
Carlisle, PA 17013
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50 K Street
Carlisle, PA 17013
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