Updated May 15th
With all of the concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to let you know how Life Church is responding.
Our leadership is carefully and continually monitoring this situation. We are closely monitoring daily updates and recommendations from the CDC and local government officials.
As information evolves, this page will be the primary, most up-to-date place for you to receive answers regarding our church's response to the coronavirus.
Is Life Church having its regular worship services and younger church ministries on Sundays?
No. On April 27 Governor Abbott announced that the statewide stay-at-home order would end on April 30. Beginning May 1, restaurants, stores, and other businesses were allowed to open at 25% capacity, while maintaining social distancing and disinfecting requirements. There are also regulations for church gatherings. However, Life Church’s current ministry and service format will not allow everyone to gather safely under these conditions.
Therefore, at this time we are NOT assembling together for worship at Life Church and will continue to worship online. Stay tuned for future announcements regarding reopening our worship gatherings.
If you want to share your thoughts about reopening, please take our survey. We want to hear from you!
Are the Life Church buildings open on the weekdays?
No. At this time, our buildings are closed to the public, except for specific ministry activity. For more information on individual ministries and/or meetings, please contact your ministry leader.
What about our off-campus gatherings, like our groups? Are they meeting in person?
Currently all our groups are meeting online via the Zoom video platform. Groups now have the option to meet outdoors (such as the Life Church parking lot or another outdoor location) as long as they follow social distancing practices and the requirements outlined below. If you would like to get into a group, you can fill out a group placement form and we will follow up with you.
Group Outdoor Meeting Requirements
- No young children (infants–4th grade) can attend. We know this will keep some groups from taking advantage of this option, but children do not socially distance from other children.
- Individuals belonging to a higher-risk group as defined by the CDC cannot attend. Click here for the CDC's list of Groups at Higher Risk for Severe Illness.
IF THE GROUP IS MEETING IN THE LIFE CHURCH PARKING LOT:
- The church building is off-limits, even for bathroom use. We know this will be another deterrent for groups, but because of the inability to monitor usage and to maintain a sanitized environment for anyone using the building, no inside use of the building will be allowed.
- The kids' fenced-in playground is off-limits.
How can I help?
What about our mission trips?
At this time mission trips scheduled the next few months have been canceled. Our summer trips are still scheduled. Our Missions Team is continually consulting various sources of information including our ministry partners in other countries, the State Department, and organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Based upon this information, we are making determinations concerning any needs to adjust, postpone, or cancel trips. At the same time, we are encouraging individuals involved in trips to prayerfully consider any decision to travel through consultation with medical professionals, as appropriate. For more detailed, up-to-date information on a particular trip, contact our Missions Pastor, Tim Schlung at Contact Page
What precautions can people take?
We encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Using hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
- Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home if you or your children are sick (runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell) and being fever or symptom free for 24 hours before attending Life Church activities.
- Covering your cough or sneeze with your arm elbow bend, not your hand.
- Disinfecting belongings you bring to church from your home, like diaper bags, blankets, etc.
- Greeting one another with a "Holy Elbow Bump" instead of a handshake!
- Those over the age of 70 and people with compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory issues are the most vulnerable, so if this applies to you, please be very wise in your interactions with others.
How can I better understand the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The coronavirus is not new. It is around every year. If you have ever had a common cold, you have had a form of the coronavirus. However, this year the coronavirus has mutated into a new strain called SARS-CoV-2. Technically, the virus is called SARS-CoV-2, and the resulting disease is called COVID-19. Currently, there is no vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, which is why people are contracting it and developing COVID-19. Coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory illness — an infection of the airways and lungs. The coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to other countries.
The most common early symptoms appear between 2 and 14 days after infection. Symptoms can be mild to severe. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, compromised immune systems, or chronic respiratory issues are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. Most people recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
Those over the age of 70 and people with compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory issues are the most vulnerable. In China, all the deaths have been from those over 70 or those who had compromised immune systems.
Like many other viruses, the coronavirus seems to spread from person-to-person through a cough, sneeze, or kiss. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the risk in the U.S. is still low. They will update this status regularly on their website.
You can also find more information from the World Health Organization.
What if I am afraid of death?
The coronavirus is yet one more reminder that we live in a fallen world of sickness, sin, suffering, and death. Ultimately, none of us are immune to any of these things, but we do not have to be afraid of death.
This is why the gospel is such good news. God has not left us alone in this world of sickness and death. He has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The greatest news in all the world is that Jesus Christ lived a life with no sin, died on a cross to pay the price for our sin, and rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. Now anyone anywhere who turns from their sin and trusts in Jesus Christ will be forgiven of all their sin and restored to relationship with God forever. That means that through Jesus Christ, we never have to fear sickness or death because we know we have eternal life with God.
You can be freed of the fear of death. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures say:
Hebrews 2:14-15 … he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (NIV)
If you want freedom from the fear of death and the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we urge you to put your faith in Jesus Christ today. If you want to contact someone to help you take this important step, Contact Page.
As a Christian, how should I respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Everywhere you turn, people are talking about the coronavirus. Times like these remind us all of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. There's a lot of panic. In some ways, the viral fear about it may be worse than the actual virus itself.
As Christians, we know that God is bigger than the coronavirus, and he is our refuge.
Psalm 91 (NIV)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
WE DON'T HAVE TO BE AFRAID!
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)
What can we do?
We can pray! God is greater, so let's pray like we believe it! Pray for healing for the sick, strength for doctors, insight for researchers, wisdom for officials, and containment of the pandemic.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are to be people of peace who share the peace of God with others. We have a unique opportunity to talk to people about Jesus Christ because he is the one who gives peace.
Only a right relationship with Jesus Christ can free people from the fear of death. So let's spread the greatest news that death has been defeated and eternal life is available to all who trust in Jesus Christ!
Look for opportunities to love and care for others, whether they are sick, isolated, or marginalized. A core calling for Christians is to care for the sick and dying (Matt. 10:8), even at the risk of our own safety (John 15:13). This is the epitome of love. Even if a virus outbreak prevents us from gathering as a congregation to worship, we can still support one another in our caregiving. This can happen through prayer, verbal encouragement, and coming alongside others to provide help in a crisis.
In his book, The Rise of Christianity, noted sociologist Rodney Stark points to the plague of AD 165 and the epidemic of AD 251 as remarkable opportunities for Christians and the gospel. He describes how these epidemics overwhelmed unbelievers who had no ability to understand or respond to them. By contrast, Stark says, "Christianity offered a much more satisfactory account of why these terrible times had fallen upon humanity, and it projected a hopeful, even enthusiastic, portrait of the future."
In addition, these Christians were unafraid of death, so they ministered to the sick and welcomed them into their community.
Stark quotes from Dionysius, the Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, who wrote about Christians in the epidemic around AD 260: "Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty…. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ…"
Dionysius then writes about how different the unbelievers responded: "The heathen behaved in the very opposite way. At the first onset of the disease, they pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead and treating unburied corpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert the spread and contagion of the fatal disease."
Historian Will Durant echoes this reality of the early Christians and their response to pestilence: "Never had the world seen such a dispensation of alms as was now organized by the Church…. She helped widows, orphans, the sick or infirm, prisoners, victims of natural catastrophes…. Pagans admired the steadfastness of Christians in caring for the sick in cities stricken with famine or pestilence."
As Christians, let's not act like unbelievers who run in fear and withdraw. Rather, let's engage and serve our frightened and sick world, even in the face of a pandemic.
Even now, Chinese Christians in Wuhan, at the epicenter of the coronavirus, are using the calamity to spread their faith. Despite the apocalyptic feel of a megacity in quarantine and a government that has failed to distribute needed resources, there are Chinese Christians on the streets sharing the gospel and handing out face masks (according to a February 11, 2020 tweet from New York Times' China correspondent Chris Buckley). Chinese Christians are also using social media to communicate, organize, and take care of those who have been infected. Let's follow their example.
As we serve others, we can be the light in dark days.
Here are some other ways you can respond to the coronavirus:
- Trust in God as the good and sovereign Creator and Sustainer of life on whom we all depend.
- Avoid every form of prejudice or racism. In light of the origination of this virus in Asia, it has been grievous to see a rise in racist incidents against the Asian community. So just as we do in any circumstance, guard against all prejudice or racism in your thoughts, your words, and your actions.
- Even if we are unable to gather as a church at certain times, stay closely connected to the church family. Gather with smaller groups as appropriate, and participate in worship gatherings online if that is the only option.
- Even if you are not able to attend worship services, continue to faithfully give financial offerings online here or by mail so that the ministry of the church thrives all the more in the midst of difficult days.
- Reflect often on the brevity of life, the urgency of eternity, and the beauty of the gospel that gives salvation.