Friday, July 24, 2020 Update
Dear Church Family,
On Wednesday, July 22, Governor DeWine issued a statewide mask mandate. The mandate states:
“All individuals must wear facial coverings in public at all times where:
• At an indoor location that is not a residence
• Outdoors, but unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members”
While there are complications with this mandate, and potential Biblical and/or Constitutional arguments to be made against it, we do believe that this mandate applies to churches. After prayer, Bible study, and consultation with our leadership team and legal counsel, we believe that we have a Biblical obligation to abide with the mask requirement.
My family and I plan to wear a mask on Sunday. I will also require church workers to wear masks when working directly with people, including ushers, greeters, children’s ministry workers, and nursery workers. We would ask that our church family consider wearing one as well, with the following conditions:
• There is no need to wear a mask outside the church building, as long as you can maintain a six foot distance from non-family members. (We will be looking to schedule some outdoor services very soon! Haha.)
• There are a number of exceptions to this statewide mandate in regards to health, etc. Those exceptions are entirely up to you.
• While we believe that we are following a model of Biblical submission to government (Romans 13 and I Peter 2) by complying with this mandate, we understand that others may disagree and believe they have Biblical grounds to do so. In the spirit of Romans 14, we ask that each member of our church family follow their conscience and the guiding of the Holy Spirit in this matter.
• While I plan to wear a mask, we do not in any way plan to force or coerce anyone to wear one. We do not plan to turn anyone away from our church building for their choice of mask usage. We believe that to do so would be an unscriptural government overreach and intrusion into our God-given right to worship together.
• We also would ask our church family to remove their masks while singing. The Bible is very clear on our Biblical responsibility to worship God in song (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Wearing a mask while singing will make it difficult to sing together as a church.
• During our Wednesday evening service of July 22, I shared a Biblical basis for our reasoning on this decision. If you have not already seen it, I encourage you to watch it in full at facebook.com/lakelandbaptist starting around the 30 minute mark.
As always, I am so grateful to our church family for their patience and understanding during this trying year. Your kindness and gracious spirit has been such a blessing to me time and time again. While we continue to hope that this COVID-19 crisis will pass quickly, we must be sure to follow the Lord’s leading every step of the way. A couple of reminders to keep in mind:
• We know that many in our church have various political opinions and ideas about this mandate and the COVID-19 crisis. I certainly have a number of strong opinions about all of this. While we respect and appreciate your opinions, we do ask that our church family be careful not to make our church the battleground for your personal liberties.
• Lakeland Baptist Temple has a Heavenly mandate that supersedes any manmade regulations, but it is a spiritual commission, not a political process. While we encourage political involvement, our church is not the place for aggressive political opinions, frustrations, and conversations.
• In addition, we ask that you respect others in our church who will often have different political and/or COVID-19 beliefs than yours. Perhaps consider a 2020 version of Romans 14:3:
Let not him that [wears a mask] despise him that [doesn’t wear a mask]; and let not him that [doesn’t wear a mask] judge him that [wears a mask]: for God hath received him.
Thanks for reading. May God keep us all close to Him during this time. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I love you all.