June 11, 2020

Dear CrossWay Family,

There are two things I want to talk with you about in this letter. One is an issue that we, as a country, have been made much aware of in recent weeks. The other is the practical matter of our regathering as a church.

There is both a need, and a growing desire on my part, to think carefully together and to speak carefully together about the issue of racial tension and what responsibility Christians bear to help alleviate it and how this all relates to the Gospel that we treasure and want to protect.

I find myself increasingly wanting to address this for three reasons. The most immediate reason is that I am aware of the effect the current situation is having on many of us in the church. We are weighed down by this and grieving and wondering how to think and act, and in some cases, wondering if the church sees and hears. So I have a purely pastoral concern to care for those particularly affected and I want us as a church to be really good at bearing one another’s burdens.

A second reason I want to speak to this issue is because of the theological significance of the issue itself. We love to talk about Gospel-centrality here at CrossWay. We believe the Gospel is in fact central to the entirety of our lives as Christians. In other words, we believe the Gospel is connected to everything. And if the Gospel is going to have a functioning centrality in our lives we need to understand exactly how it relates to the significant matters in our lives, like how we spend our money, and how we parent our children, and how we relate to our spouses, and how we engage in entertainment, and how we use social media, and how we think about and relate to people who have a different skin color. The Gospel we’ve experienced as Christians is a gospel of peace, peace with God that then makes us people who are eager to be at peace with people, and eager for justice for all.

A third reason I feel a desire to address this is that as I become aware of how people are speaking and thinking I regularly observe some basic mistakes and confusions in how we are conducting our conversations. I’m convinced that getting clarity on a handful of issues of communication and reasoning would go a long way in helping us talk productively about this very weighty and significant issue. I am not, by any means, suggesting that I perfectly understand everything related to this, or that my reasoning is always flawless, but I do want to help us engage well with the issue and with one another.

So, I am planning, sometime in the near future, likely in the venue of a Friday Forum, to address the issue of “Racial Reconciliation and the Gospel.”  Stay tuned for more details and please pray that God would give me unusual wisdom as I, along with the elders, seek to lead us in this important area.

Now, to matters of our regathering. In exactly ten days we will begin to regather as a church. While there is a good and natural excitement we feel about this, our regathering is not going to be without its challenges. And while the obvious challenges are the ones having to do with logistics, the more significant challenges are the ones having to do with our hearts.

We all have opinions on how this should happen. From a purely mathematical perspective, most of us will be in some way bothered by the inconvenience or irritation of some of the precautions we are asking all to take. Every one of us is going to need to exercise a set of fundamental Christian virtues.  Ephesians 4:2-3 comes to mind:  “. . . with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” May I, as your pastor, ask you to please be purposeful to not set your personal preferences above your commitment to the unity and the life of our church. Every one of us needs to be, not just willing, but actively ready to lay down preferences, even in some cases, our strongly held personal opinions, in favor of far more important Christian values. And let us not pass judgment on one another. A careful rereading of Romans 14 might help us all here.

The elders are not, by any means, thinking we’ve got everything figured out just perfectly but we are asking for you to participate in a certain course of action that reflects our best understanding as a whole at this point. Despite some difference of opinion amongst us, we have chosen to be unified in recommending this course of action and we are humbly asking you to follow our lead.

We will do our best to give clear instructions. We’ll spell them out in these upcoming days. It will require all of us to stay plugged in so please keep a lookout for communication coming from us. And we will continue to do our best to care for every single member of this church family.

I am so looking forward to seeing you again soon!

With much love,

Pastor Mike (for all the pastors and elders)


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