Pastor Landen's
Guideline Letter

Blessings Everyone,

As we move forward with our relaunch strategy, I feel it necessary to share how, as a Family, we need to manage ourselves and the process for maximum positive impact.  This note isn't written as a response to behavior or to discipline, but rather to guide us through this season, so we come out stronger and even more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

We are all inundated with varying opinions as to the spiritual implications, conditions, potential liberties being challenged, and even end time theology attached to what we are facing.  While I don't want to enter into a debate on the value or lack of value to varying opinions and thought, I do want to set the course for how we will walk together through this challenge so our church culture, family, mission, and vision can not only remain intact but flourish and advance even in contrary circumstances.

As your pastors, we have had to navigate through what has been the most unique and challenging time of our ministries.  We have had to pivot and adapt at an unprecedented pace. Every adaptation has required a level of creativity and meticulous adherence to detail to be able to just simply gather together as a family.  

Since restrictions and recommendations have been somewhat ambiguous, steering Gateway through relaunch has added to the stress on both the lead team and our church family.  

Frankly, we are all tired and all frustrated, and all want to move forward.  

So how do we do this well? We lean into scripture that directs us in how to respond to challenge through loving one another, honoring one another, protecting one another. By laying down our lives, our opinions, our liberties for the sake of those we are in covenant with through Jesus, and in love towards the world.

Preferring One Another

Three scriptures aid us in managing our hearts as we walk together in the relaunch.  

Romans 12:10-12 (ASV) 10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another; 11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV Strong's) 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1 Peter 2:17 (ESV Strong's) 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

What one person would define as fearless another might consider reckless.  Honoring one another, preferring one another, and setting the interests of others above ourselves is managed in the stewardship of our personal spiritual liberty.  Paul would also write that if eating meat sacrificed to idols was offensive to someone in the family of God or caused them to stumble, he (Paul) would cut meat out altogether (1 Cor 8:13).  Yes, the context of that verse speaks to the areas of growth a person might be on their journey into liberty, but it doesn't belittle that one because of their journey.  In fact, Paul is pointing to his personal liberty by being able to lay down a privilege.

My key point is we don't know the journey, struggles, or conditions of others.  You don't know if the person you are hugging has a pre-existing respiratory condition and is a person of high risk to illness.  You don't know if they work in first response and have to be diligent in their management of protocols simply to keep their job.  You don't know if a person has just come out of isolation and has struggled with all that separation has done to them emotionally and doesn't want to face it again.  

We have to be responsible to care for each other, and if wearing a mask, while irritating for me, puts you at ease, then perhaps that is the most significant expression of love I can give you.  

I want every first responder, nurse, doctor, or healthcare worker to be able to be in church.  I want every person fighting through their fears to be able to be in church.  I want every family with someone who is at risk to be able to be in church.  I want us all to be able to be in church, worshiping together, praying together, growing together, and loving each other through this.  

For one who has been trained to look both ways before crossing the street, to be dragged across by a person who doesn't look both ways would feel abusive.  We must never impose our liberty upon another simply to express our liberty. That's not the way of the kingdom.  

So we prefer one another.  We love one another. We sacrifice for one another.  

I miss each of you terribly, and I have to remind myself that not everyone is ready to hug, so I understand the challenge for each of us.  But let's win, let's overcome, let's prefer one another, and let's be together and make it safe for everyone wherever they might be on the spectrum of their liberty.

Therefore, please honor the guidelines that we have adopted so that as many of us as possible can worship together again. Recognize that no one on our team wants to enforce these guidelines and that we all are doing our level best to ensure that we are able to be together and worship Jesus.

All my love,