Mid-week Update: Current Facility Considerations
Dear Grace Church family,
On Sunday I gave a facility update for our Sunday services. I mentioned that there are three options currently before us. I mentioned that none of those options are ideal, so we have created a document spelling out what we think are the positives and negatives of each option.
That document was on our Information Table on Sunday, and its content is below in its entirety. We are asking that you would take time in your home groups to discuss this document together. The reason being that we very much want your help as we seek to engage in this deliberation together.
As you have those discussions, however, please seek to give consideration most of all to what is best for us as a church body, and not just what our individual preferences may or may not be. Your individual preferences are important and we want to know those, but we’re also seeking to think about God’s good will for us as a congregation together.
Thank you so very much!
Current Facility Considerations
For the location of our Sunday services, our goal has been to explore short-term solutions and then to consider longer-term options. Jeff Richards has been kindly making calls to explore a variety of options, and we’ve been diligently connecting with those with whom we have relationship in the area.
We believe we have rather thoroughly explored our short-term options, and three are before us at the present time: return to the La Mesa Community Center, stay in Harry Griffen Park indefinitely, or move indoors to the facility of Lake Murray Community Church.
LA MESA COMMUNITY CENTER
Positives: The community center is reasonably priced (approx. $40k/year), clean, well-located, air conditioned, and provides us with onsite storage for a Sunday morning timeslot. This is not a common set of circumstances to easily come by in our area.
Negatives: The stated requirement by the city of La Mesa is for masks to be worn by all who are unvaccinated. While we understand this approach, we do not believe it would serve us well as a body at this time. With the current Delta variant increase, La Mesa has indicated that their usage policies will tighten further. (This may involve a requirement for all to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, as is the current policy for San Diego city facilities). Thus, the situation is rather unstable and unpredictable as La Mesa’s policy is likely to change with the changing pandemic situation. Additionally, there has been a concern about the long-term viability of renting a city property, given our biblical perspective on matters of gender and sexuality and the potential for the city to prohibit us from using their property on relatively short notice.
HARRY GRIFFEN PARK
Positives: Meeting in the park has been a great provision for us, as being outdoors has greatly reduced the risk of COVID transmission. Our rental costs have been significantly lower in the park (approx. $15k/year), and we have ministered to people in the park that, otherwise, we would not have met.
Negatives: The ministry of God’s word in general is hindered by the distractions in the park. It’s also hard for some to see and hear during the preaching, and those preaching cannot see the entire congregation. It’s difficult to feel like we’re assembling together as we ought, since we cannot hear one another very well, if at all, in our singing worship (consider the call of Ephesians 5.19 to be: “…addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”). In addition, the consensus has been that we cannot conduct a safe and effective children’s ministry during our services in the park. We’d like to conduct age-appropriate gospel ministry during our services for children again, and we’d like all of our parents to be able to consistently receive from the public ministry of God’s word. Lastly, we do face some rather hot Sunday mornings and will soon face the possibility of rain on some Sundays.
LAKE MURRAY COMMUNITY CHURCH
Positives: Though they are finalizing a “Use Agreement,” the elders at Lake Murray have tentatively offered us the use of their facility for up to a year, as they appreciate our shared gospel ministries and like-mindedness as local churches. The building is conveniently located, air conditioned, clean and well-maintained. They have proposed a very low cost for the use of their facility (a rate that equates to approx. $10k/year), and they do not plan on any mask requirements. Moving our services indoors now seems possible with the current vaccine prevalence, and moving indoors addresses all the “negatives” above about meeting in the park. The sanctuary is an appropriate size for us (seating about 200). It appears that we would be able to use their audio/visual system (and possibly some instruments), greatly reducing our set up and take down needs. It seems the service could be shown via video feed in their fellowship hall for any who would be uncomfortable with the closer proximity in the sanctuary. Suitable and accessible children’s ministry classrooms would also be available.
Negatives: We would have to move our Sunday services to a late afternoon/early evening timeslot. We would lose our reservation at the park for Sunday mornings, and would more than likely lose our “first right of refusal” for returning to the community center. The desire would be for Sunday afternoon / evening services to only be a short-term, stopgap measure. However, we would have no guarantees as to what our longer-term facility options may or may not be beyond that.
IN SUMMARY, there is not an “ideal” option before us presently; each option entails both positive and negative factors. Whatever we do, God is setting before each of us an opportunity to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2.4) And we can do so because Christ has first done so for us in the most profound way possible – through the incomparable humility of his incarnation and suffering in our stead (Phil 2.5-8)!
Now we want and need your help as a congregation. We’d like to discern God’s good direction for us together. Please engage with us in this deliberation process. We welcome your thoughts, questions, and concerns. We ask you to pray for God’s wisdom and direction. God has revealed himself as one who hears and responds to his people as we wait upon him:
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
So let us pray with great confidence and anticipation, knowing that we have full and free access to such a God – through Christ – who loves us, hears us, and acts for us as we wait for him.
With our love for you,
the elders of Grace Church
PRAYER MEETINGS & PRAYER EMAIL
Lastly, I invite you to gather with other members of Grace Church at one of our weekly prayer meetings, information for each is below. I also wanted to let you know that we’ve created the email address firstname.lastname@example.org so that you can email any prayer request you might have, so that the elders and others in the church can be praying for you.
- Every Sunday morning down on the amphitheater stage at 8:15am we have a prayer meeting to pray for our service as well as the ministries of our church.
- Every Wednesday evening (that’s tonight!) we have a corporate prayer meeting via Zoom from 7-8pm. Please click HERE for the Zoom link and password.