Though I deeply miss being able to gather all together, I am so thankful for what the Lord is doing in our church and through our church in this season. Jesus has not stopped loving us or working in and through us.
I want to give you an update on our plans as we continue to open up. Several weeks ago, I shared we have four plays we are going to call as a church, and that as each play is called, we will continue with the previous play.
- Play one: Mariners Online, where we are providing digital resources and worship services for you to watch at home. This is the play we are currently running and are so grateful for what we are hearing from you. I am hearing stories of people inviting their neighbors over to watch service together, of families who have made the Tuesday night Family Service part of their Taco Tuesday tradition and are enjoying conversations about Christ as a family.
- Play two: Mariners Hosted at Home, where we are going to encourage life groups to gather together for church in a home.
- Play three: Mariners in the Neighborhood, where we are going to plant smaller gatherings in various neighborhoods and communities in Orange County.
- Play four: Gatherings at Mariners. This is the play we will call when we are ready to gather again for worship services on our campuses.
Obviously, the big question is about timing. When will we call each play?
First, I want you to understand how we are processing and making decisions: we will call the next successive play when we are confident that what we are offering and inviting you into will be a refuge and solace. Meaning, we are not rushing to call each play. We want to be confident that when we call a play it is the best play to love and serve you well and to love and serve the people of Orange County well. We want our gatherings to be a place of refuge for you, a place that encourages you and inspires you to follow Jesus.
What does this mean for right now?
Right now, we are calling play #2—Mariners Hosted at Home. And we are NOT going to call play #4—gatherings at Mariners —in the month of June. We will not be having in-person physical worship gatherings at our campuses in the month of June. With all the precautions that will be surrounding larger gatherings, we don’t believe it is the best play to call for our church at this time. We will call that play when we are confident that our worship services will be a refuge and solace to you..
Some of you are saying, “but isn’t church essential?”
Church is absolutely essential! It is so essential that we want to call the best play for each moment we find ourselves in. And we believe church with your life group is the best play for this moment.
- Church with your life group is an expression of church. Many churches around the world only gather this way.
- You will be able to worship alongside people in a smaller environment that can more easily be made safe and yet still be welcoming.
- We will be able to focus on life groups as a church, which is so important for your spiritual growth and health. You need community. We don’t know what the future holds and being in community is essential.
Let’s talk about Mariners with Your Life Group and how awesome this is going to be!
- Imagine being able to take each weekend’s message and apply it to your life alongside others. We’ll have discussion guides to help you do this, whether you meet physically or digitally, on the weekends or during the week. These guides will give you greater understanding of God’s Word and practical ways to allow His Word to change you.
- Imagine having regular opportunities to serve and pray for our cities and our church alongside your group. Our Outreach team will be funneling digital and physical serve opportunities to your group leaders every month so you and your group can keep making a difference in this important time.
- Imagine taking communion together, as Jesus instructs us, in community. We’ll be doing this as a church in just a few weeks.
- Imagine singing and studying Scripture together with people in your group—it’s going to be beautiful!
If you are in a life group, our community life team is already communicating to your leader. Beginning next weekend, May 30/31, we will encourage groups to have “Mariners with Your Life Group.” In addition to our normal service times, Life Group leaders can access an on-demand link for our weekend services to use with your groups all weekend, and that on-demand link will be made public on YouTube Sunday afternoons. So if your group meets Sunday afternoon, it will be perfect. We are also going to add a second Saturday night service for Irvine at 6:30p, and while this gives groups another option to meet, it also allows us to prepare for an additional service that may be needed when we resume larger physical gatherings on our campuses.
If you do not have a group, we want to help you get connected. There are two ways you can get in a group:
1) Some of you are ready to start a group with people you know. You have some friends you can invite to your home, watch our church services online, and utilize our discussion guides to get to know God, one another, and the Bible even better. Some of you have better relationships with your neighbors than ever before. Why not start a group with your neighbors? You can do this! And we are here to help you. We will provide the resources and training you may need. If you want to start a group in your home with people you know, please let us know. Simply CLICK HERE and select the option to host a group.
2) If you are not in a group and need help finding one, sign-up to join a Connect Group. We’ll match you with a great group of people, you’ll watch the service together, and within a few weeks move off campus and meet in a home near you. Connect Group opportunities will begin June 4/5 for both online groups and small group gatherings at our Mariners campuses. For more information and to SIGN UP FOR A CONNECT GROUP, CLICK HERE.
Mariners, as you know there are people all over the spectrum when it comes to reopening churches and reopening other aspects of life. Our unity must not be based on our plans but on our Savior. Be kind and gracious to people who have different views than you do. Our world is divided and a divided world needs a united church.
I love you Mariners Church!