NEW UPDATE (9/16/2020)
As most of you know (especially if you attend Renovation Church) we are asking everyone to wear a mask when we move to indoor services on Sunday, October 4th. I sincerely appreciate those of you who have reached out to me with feedback on this decision – both positive and negative. I have provided numerous reasons on why we are making this decision and those can be found here: https://tylerramsbey.com/2020/07/27/unmasking-the-mask-debate/
Instead, I want to provide the example of a real person that many in our church know. This is a comment that was sent to me by a member of our church. This person has been part of our church before our church was around – if my memory serves me correct, I think she was the first person to get plugged into our church planting team. I have changed some of the details in the original comment to help shield this person’s identity. Her comment is below:
“Hi Tyler. I read your thing on having masks on for indoor church. I stand behind you 100% on that. Unfortunately, there are too many people around who are not wearing them…. I want to tell you I went to the (name of business removed) meeting couple weeks ago and I was the only one wearing a mask and it did upset me that people are careless. We social distanced in there but I would have felt more comfortable if all had a mask on in an enclosed room. I am one of the vulnerable older adults and will feel safer watching your services online when we get indoors. If the crowd gets smaller indoors this winter and EVERYONE has a mask on I might chance going. OK? You hang in there with your decision it is the right decision.”
I hope what I am about to say next does not come off as too harsh but here’s the reality – if you are unwilling to wear a piece of cloth on your face for one hour a week to make other people feel safe so they can go back to worshiping with us in-person, that is a sign of spiritual immaturity. One practical application of Paul’s admonition to “in humility consider others as more important than yourselves (Philip. 2:3)” is to deal with the small inconvenience of a mask for the sake of people like the one above in our church who do not feel safe joining us until we follow CDC guidelines.
Finally, my daughter has to wear a mask every single day for preschool. She has never complained about it. In contrast, we had some elderly people stop by our house a few weeks ago and Ava was adamant that she put on her mask when they came in our house so she could do her part in protecting them from COVID-19. If my 3 1/2 year old understands this, I hope & pray adult followers of Jesus will as well.
NEW UPDATE (9/13/2020)
On Sunday, October 4th we are moving indoors to the American Legion and asking all people to wear masks (see previous post for the official statement). There have been a few questions that have come in so I wanted to write a brief post to answer them.
Q: If I am physically unable to wear a masks due to a health issue, can I come to church
A: Yes. That being said, if you have a severe underlying health issue (such as severe asthma) it’s probably best for you to join us online but that’s a decision you need to make.
Q: Do my kids need to wear a mask?
A: We are asking all kids who are 5 years old and older to wear a mask. Those who are younger, we encourage it but understand that it can be difficult for kids. For what it’s worth, my daughter who is three will be wearing one and she wears one every day at preschool without any issues (or complaining).
Q: Will we be taking communion?
A: Yes. We will continue to take communion while practicing social distancing, good hygiene, and the wearing of masks before and after communion. Of course you can take your mask off to take communion but that’s only for a few seconds.
Q: Will there be singing?
A: Yes. If we were not wearing masks, we would not do any type of singing. Although singing does increase the risk of COVID-19, this risk should be reduced if everyone who is able is wearing a mask.
Q: What if I do not want to wear a mask?
A: If your reason for not wearing a mask is simply a refusal to do so or a philosophical reason (i.e. you think masks are the mark of the beast – or some other internet theory) – you have two choices. First, you are more than welcome to join us online – but online church is not ideal. Second, there are many churches in our area who are not asking people to wear masks. We encourage you to get plugged into one of them.
Finally, I appreciate the encouraging comments some people have sent me. I shared with my wife this morning that, for the third Sunday in a row, I have had severe anxiety on Sunday mornings (to the point of my hands have been shaking). I generally have very little anxiety. I think my anxiety comes from the reality that I know this is the right thing to do but I also understand there’s a significant number of people upset with me. Nevertheless, I take comfort in the writings of Paul, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”
Renovation Church Family,
We will be moving our services indoors to the American Legion beginning on Sunday, October 4th. Since COVID-19 cases continue to rise exponentially in South Dakota (and in Minnehaha County) we want you to know that your safety and well-being is our priority. Since there are people in our congregation who are likely to experience severe and negative outcomes from COVID-19, we are asking all people who attend Renovation Church to do the following two things:
1. Carefully consider staying home and joining us online if you have impaired immunity or other underlying health conditions that cause you to be especially susceptible to COVID-19.
2. If you choose to attend in person, we are asking everyone to wear a mask and observe social distancing.
Finally, we understand that masks have become notoriously divisive in our country. There are many reasons we are asking those in attendance to wear a mask but here are the two primary ones: First, the Scriptures clearly encourage us to give up certain freedoms in order to better display the sacrificial love of Christ to others in our community (see 1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Second, after consulting with local health officials, we decided it’s the best course of action we can take to protect the vulnerable among us.
If you have further questions, please contact Pastor Tyler Ramsbey via e-mail (email@example.com) or phone (605-359-9486).
Elders of Renovation Church