Dear Christ Church Family,
After close to three months of sheltering-in-place, we are anxious to throw open the doors and welcome everyone back. God designed us to be together, and the global pandemic has made most of us excited about that opportunity again.
Unfortunately, circumstances are not yet in place to allow us to return to normal. As I write this, Illinois is still under Phase 3 restrictions, and the coronavirus continues to present a number of health risks, especially to those who are older or immunocompromised. In light of this—and in response to our congregational survey, collaboration with other area churches, and recommendations from an internal focus group—our plan is to reopen in stages.
  • During June and July we are encouraging you to attend Christ Church Online – ideally at a Worship Watch Party with your small group. We are also inviting you to attend various events (mostly outdoors) that we have planned at all four campuses.
  • In the second half of August we expect to open the buildings for smaller services, with a goal of a re-launch on September 13. (Note: this is the date being selected by many other churches in Illinois as the official Chicagoland goes back to church, kick off weekend).
Why not reopen now for those who want to come? We’ve considered that, but there are few challenges:
  • For starters, it’s not working well where it is being done. I am in close touch with friends who are pastoring churches in TX, GA and FL. They all started back a month ago, but after some initial excitement, less than twenty percent of the congregation is showing up.Their advice to us is to wait.
  • Secondly, it’s still not clear how we can safely work with children. We are committed to maintaining great children’s ministries and to keeping them safe.

Are we hesitant to reopen because of restrictions from the governor? No. The Governor initially set some fairly restrictive policies in place governing churches, but those have been lifted. Technically, although a modified form of his guidelines are still recommended, we have quite a bit of flexibility. But we want to move forward in ways that work and that keep people safe. At this moment, we think online services, combined with small groups connecting and some ongoing social events is best.

What kind of outdoor events are planned? Last Friday night we had 200 people attend an outdoor worship event at the Lake Forest parking lot. Both the Crossroads and Lake Forest SHYG groups have also held outdoor events. Our plan for July is to hold: a weekly outdoor worship gathering (family-friendly) at each campus; one outdoor outreach event and one serving opportunity.

When we come back in September, how will children’s ministry operate? We are exploring several ideas, including a modified program where children would participate in worship as a family, and then be dismissed to a large group lesson. For families that are not ready to have their children join Lighthouse we will have “pew packets” to help kids engage in the service. The good news is, because Illinois is re-opening later than many other states, we can watch and learn from the churches that are trying to fix this problem now.

You mentioned a reopening on September 13. At that time will things be back to normal? We would love for them to be back to normal, though we think that is unlikely. It is possible that some form of masks and social distancing will still be in place. It is also unlikely that we would serve coffee or provide written handouts.

What can I do now? Pray. Encourage others. Host a Worship Watch Party with your friends.

Press On,
Mike Woodruff