Soft Re-Gathering Principles
As the Campus Leadership Team of Penn Valley Church, we believe that the following principles should guide our decisions about when and how we regather for public worship.
- As believers we are all commanded to obey civil authorities over us (Romans 13:1-7) as much as we are able to do so while maintaining good conscience (Romans 12:18). We are thankful that while throughout the pandemic our civil authorities have requested that religious organizations follow certain guidelines, they have not mandated closures or other restrictions upon religious organizations at any point.
- We affirm that the decision-making responsibility for Christian churches does not belong to civil government, but to the ordained ministers of the local church as well as the other appointed elders of the church. (Matthew 22:21, Acts 5:29, Titus 1:5-9).
- We affirm that the local church is a distinctive entity. We must remember that the church is not the government. Church and state have different responsibilities, different purposes, and are called to different levels of care and guidance. While our civil government is governed by the Constitution, the Church is governed by the Bible. Likewise, we must remember that the local church is not a business or other worldly organization but a spiritual entity made up of the people that comprise it.
- As pastors, we have a responsibility to care for the well-being of the people in our congregation (Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:10) , especially those who are most vulnerable (Matthew 25:40-45, James 1:27). To this end, we must take all available information and guidelines into consideration, to the best of our ability, in these decisions.
- We have a responsibility to walk in love toward our community and seek its good (Jeremiah 29:7). This includes acting responsibly and selflessly to minimize our spread of this virus, which would jeopardize the health of those around us as well as prolong the quarantine situation.
- We have a responsibility to maintain the favorable testimony of the church as much as possible, and avoid providing the world with valid grounds for accusation of believers (1 Peter 4:12-19). To this end, we must consider the concerns of our community as we decide when and how to re-open for our worship and programs.
- We will seek to fully re-open our public worship services as soon as we determine that it would be possible and appropriate (Hebrews 10:24-25). We affirm that this may take place in stages, and that the gathering of believers for fellowship and worship is of primary importance (Matthew 18:20).
- We affirm the responsibility of individual believers to make their own personal decisions which are obedient and honoring to Christ (1 Peter 2:9). This means that individuals will ultimately have to choose whether to gather with us for public worship when it becomes available, taking into consideration risks to themselves and others.
- We affirm that individuals have a right and responsibility to abstain from in-person church activities in cases where it would endanger their health, others’ health, or violate their conscience. To this end we will continue to provide full remote worship services and will encourage those individuals who make this decision.
- All of these decisions must be made in unity and love (Philippians 2:1-4) and in prayerful dependence upon God as the chief authority of His Church (Ephesians 1:19-23).