UPDATE: CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

All of our MBC locations in Virginia are now in Phase 3 of reopening, while Montgomery County continues to lag behind both Virginia and Maryland.

In looking at our plans for Fall 2020, we have prayerfully committed to expanding multiple services at multiple MBC locations.  All of our services will go “live” for registration each week at 10 am here.

There are three primary reasons why we are expanding our service offerings at this time:

  • By God’s grace, our team has been able to learn a number of new protocols and, thus far, we have been able to safely host larger in-person gatherings.
  • As we monitor developments across the country, it seems that a number of schools have also been able to meet in person without large outbreaks, largely by utilizing the same protocols we use here at MBC.
  • And finally, a vaccine or treatment will not be available on a widespread basis this fall as we had hoped.  As such, we want to continue to do everything we can to live and lead well in this unique and challenging season, even as this season extends longer than any of us would have wanted.

While we expand our weekend service offerings, we also want to again affirm that there are many ways to get involved at MBC beyond Sunday morning.  We will continue to offer all of our services online, and we encourage anyone with concerns or higher risk levels to continue joining us there. In addition, we are currently leading one of the largest food distribution projects in the country (more than 7,000,000 pounds of food distributed to date), and we desperately need volunteers. If you are someone who wants to “get out there” in this unique season and truly be the church, we could use your help as we load boxes of food and share the gospel across Metro DC.  You can sign up here. And finally, we have continued to provide detailed Groups Guidance for those of you who would like to gather together in person beyond Sunday mornings.

Again, these kinds of gatherings – large or small – are not without risk during the global pandemic. As with any steps we might offer in the phased reopening of MBC, we encourage and support each one of you in prayerfully discerning the right way forward for you and your family. These are new and challenging times for all of us!

If there is anything we can do to serve you in this season, or if you have any questions at all, please contact us.

WHEN WILL MBC RESUME WORSHIP GATHERINGS IN OUR BUILDINGS, AND WHAT FACTORS ARE AFFECTING THIS DECISION?

As a church, we are grateful for the freedom to gather for worship in our buildings, and we all long to do so. We literally cannot wait to see everyone! 

We also realize that different people have different perspectives on when we should resume in-person gatherings in our buildings. Some members believe we should do so immediately, while others believe we should wait much longer. Even various leaders have different opinions. In the midst of this uncharted territory, together we have decided to proceed slowly and to wait to resume worship gatherings in our buildings for now. The following seven factors have led us to this decision:

  • The state of our city. Metropolitan Washington, DC, is currently classified as a “hot spot” for virus transmission, and recently released metrics from the White House Task Force rank our city as the number one metro area in the country in “test positives” for COVID-19.
  • The risk of large indoor gatherings. Even as our country begins to reopen, every jurisdiction in the country continues to recommend that people avoid large crowds and large indoor areas without outdoor ventilation.  If we were to gather, we would essentially be opening an environment that people have been specifically encouraged to avoid. Even if we reduced capacity to 50% or 25% capacity of our normal gatherings, that would still mean hundreds (and collective thousands) of people gathering together in our indoor locations.  All other areas of society that involve large indoor gatherings at this scale are still waiting to re-open, including schools, universities, sporting events, and conferences. Many of these institutions have access to much higher level medical response and preparation than we do as a church, and yet they are still developing their own reopening plans. We simply are not experts on large-scale indoor gatherings in the midst of a pandemic, and as such we want to watch and observe early adopters of large-scale gatherings so that we can discern best practices for eventual gatherings at a church our size with multiple locations across metro DC. In the meantime, much like people are phasing in the entire reopening process – from less than 10 to less than 50 to less than 100 and so on – we believe it is wise to phase in our gatherings at smaller levels before immediately bringing hundreds/thousands of people into a large indoor gathering together.
  • The safety of our staff and volunteer leaders. Some might wonder, “Why not just open the buildings for those who are comfortable with gathering in person?” One answer to this question is that our gatherings each week require a large and very diverse group of people to work in a number of hands-on roles to make them possible.  We do not feel comfortable requiring or expecting staff and volunteer leaders to serve in this way if we are not yet sure about the respective best practices for large-scale indoor gatherings.    
  • The unity of our body. Any attempt at reopening right now will necessarily exclude large portions of our church, both in number and demographic, including many older brothers and sisters or others who may find themselves at higher risk for any number of reasons. We also know that individuals and families have varying levels of comfort with being in crowds of people at this time. While we don’t believe it will be feasible to wait until everyone has the same comfort level with gathering, we do want to wait until we can encourage as many people as possible to come while saying with as much confidence as possible, “This is a safe environment for members and guests alike to worship.”
  • The nature of our gatherings. Our worship gatherings are not designed for social distancing. We sing and shout. We take the Lord’s Supper and baptize. We are individuals and families, including kids (who aren’t always easy to keep in one place where we monitor everything they touch!). We sit in seats that people have sat in just minutes prior to us being there. While it is certainly possible to gather together without doing some or all of these normal activities (we’re thinking through all of these possibilities), and while there are various ways to reduce risk (we’re exploring all these ways, as well), the above factors cause us to take added precautions before gathering for worship as the church. 
  • The credibility of our witness. By God’s grace, we are spreading God’s love across our city and around the world in many ways beyond what we were doing before this pandemic. Members of our church have banded together to provide meals for thousands upon thousands of families in at-risk communities, the gospel has been shared with every single one of those families, and many have come to faith in Christ. Thousands more have joined us online for worship, including many who have also come to faith in Christ. So as we read stories of church gatherings resuming in other places and see examples of staff and attenders inadvertently transmitting this virus across their community, and then we consider the size of our church and our reach across the city, we want to be extremely careful to display the wisdom of Christ as we exalt the name of Christ.  In short, we want to be agents of the gospel and do not want anything we might undertake to hinder that eternal message.  
  • The opportunity for observation. Every week (and seemingly every day!), there are new developments in the local, state, federal and global response to COVID-19.  These rapid developments include more knowledge about how the virus responds to treatment, or to summer weather, or to the reopening process, or how individuals might better protect themselves. In proceeding with caution, we give ourselves access to more and more information to make a wise decision on reopening.  There are many areas in which we are glad to take risks in order to be on the cutting edge as a church now and in the days ahead: spreading the gospel, discipling children and students, restoring lives, strengthening marriages, caring for the poor and oppressed, being family for widows and orphans, planting churches, reaching the unreached, and on and on. However, we do not feel the same burden to take risks in order to be on the cutting edge of re-opening large scale gatherings. Knowing that this virus is latent for as long as two weeks before symptoms might appear, we are inclined to lag behind more large-scale reopenings to determine if various practices are safe in reducing risks to people. In the end, we want to keep and increase our focus on the areas mentioned above while carefully observing and humbly learning from other large-scale in-person gatherings.

In sharing these factors as reasons why we are slow to gather in our buildings again, we hope to communicate to you and to our community that we love you. We are indeed eager to gather in our buildings again soon, and we commit to do so as soon and as safely as possible. We are continually evaluating the factors above as well as others that arise, and we are committed to providing any new updates on this page every week by 5 pm on Friday.

In the meantime, let’s remember: MBC is not closed! We are absolutely open for business. The church is not a building, but a body of people committed to loving God and loving one another while spreading the good news of God’s love in the world around us. And a global pandemic cannot stop us from doing these things! 

IS MBC GATHERING OUTSIDE OF OUR BUILDINGS?

Yes! In addition to our remote worship gatherings online every Sunday and classes and connecting points through our Next Steps page, we are hosting Drive-In Worship and Prayer Nights for all of our other locations. We recently hosted a Drive-In Worship and Prayer Gathering for our staff as a way of evaluating this kind of experience, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  We know that drive-in services will never be a substitute for in-person worship, but we do believe it is a step in the right direction for those who would like to physically gather together. You can find specific information about upcoming gatherings in the days ahead on social media channels and enews for each location.  

In addition, we are exploring other ways we might be able to gather in person outdoors. For now, gatherings in Maryland and DC are still limited to 10 people or fewer, while Northern Virginia has entered Phase 2, allowing gatherings of 50 or fewer.  As soon as larger gatherings are permitted across our church, we will release detailed guidance to our group leaders.  We will likely recommend that our groups look for outdoor locations to gather for all of the reasons set forth above.  

As we navigate all of these new challenges together, let us always be sensitive to differing levels of comfort among different people when making decisions about gathering together again. We will continually evaluate the options above as well as other options that might arise, and we will keep you up to date on this site regarding any further developments.

HOW ARE WE GLORIFYING GOD THROUGH GROUPS, MINISTRY TO FAMILIES AND CHILDREN, AND OTHER MINISTRIES DURING THIS TIME?

As of June 19, 2020, all of our MBC locations are now in Phase 2 of reopening, including Montgomery County.

In Phase Two, gatherings of up to fifty people are now permitted, which means that some of our groups may choose to begin meeting in person again. We are providing this document to offer guidance to our group leaders and to our members as you navigate this important decision.

We still encouraging groups across our church to consider any alternate means for staying as biblically and closely connected to one another as possible during this time. Go HERE for more detailed recommendations and resources for groups. In addition, we have compiled recommendations and resources for families, students, and children during this time. Check out our Resources for Parents and Children and A Simple Guide to Family Worship.

HOW ARE WE SPREADING GOD’S LOVE ACROSS OUR CITY DURING THIS TIME?

In the midst of a global pandemic, we want to be a clear picture of God’s love across our city. One of the ways we can show God’s love is by participating in publicly endorsed strategies of containment, including social distancing. That’s why we’re not gathering together in person – because this is one of the best ways we can love others right now. At the same time, we don’t want to isolate people who are in need all around us. As a church together and as individual Christians, we want to care for others in any way that we can according to all the health and safety guidelines and recommendations made by government leaders and health professionals.

Therefore, we are coordinating a church-wide effort to provide help and deliver soap and food products to neighbors and communities in need. We have a network of relationships with schools and other churches, and they have shared with us about the need for food for children in light of them not being in school, and for families in light of various challenges at work. As a result, we are working closely with local officials according to CDC guidelines to pack and deliver helpful products to communities across our city. Click HERE for more details about this church-wide effort, and fill out this Interest Form if you’d like to get involved.

In addition, we are also encouraging church members to reach out individually to people in your neighborhoods who might need help during this time. You can download and print this flyer to connect individually with your neighbors in order to care for them. Keep in mind that as you distribute these flyers to your neighbors, you are personally assuming responsibility for helping them as much as you can. We are working to have care packages with soap and food products available at MBC locations so that you can come to one of our buildings, pick up care packages, and deliver them to neighbors, as needed.

Finally, if you are a member of MBC and you have specific needs for help, please contact us here.

WHAT ABOUT MBC SHORT-TERM MISSION TRIPS?

NOTE: The link below is updated with new information as of May 26, 2020.

Our Global Outreach staff 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 MBC short-term mission trips in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19), please click HERE.

HOW CAN I BETTER UNDERSTAND THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates the status of the coronavirus (COVID-19), symptoms to look for and how to identify it, and its relative risk at cdc.gov/coronavirus. You can also find more information from the World Health Organization.

HOW SHOULD I RESPOND PHYSICALLY TO THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?

For all the recommended ways in how to respond physically to the coronavirus, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus. Please also alert your church family so that we can best help and support you.

Regardless of age or medical condition, we encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses, including:

  • Washing your hands 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 are sick;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze;
  • Disinfecting objects and surfaces regularly.
HOW SHOULD I RESPOND SPIRITUALLY TO THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) 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 that’s why the gospel is such good news. God has not left us alone in this world of sickness, sin, suffering, and death. He has come to us in the person of Jesus. The greatest news in all the world is that Jesus 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 will be forgiven of all their sin and restored to relationship with God forever. That means that through Jesus, we never have to fear sickness or death because we know we have eternal life with God.

If you do not know that you have eternal life with God, we urge you to put your faith in Jesus. And if you do know that you have eternal life with God, we urge you to share your faith in Jesus with others. Times like these remind us all of the fragility of life and the inevitability 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.

In addition to trusting in Jesus and sharing about Jesus with others, here’s some other ways you can respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Trust in God as the good and sovereign Creator and Sustainer of life upon whom we all depend.
  • Pray for mercy for the sick, strength for doctors, insight for researchers, and wisdom for officials.
  • Look for opportunities to love and care for others, whether they are sick, isolated, marginalized, poor, or oppressed.
  • Avoid every semblance 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. Much of our church family (and much of our city) is Asian-American, and we want every Asian-American (as well as Asians around the world) to feel and know the love of Christ. 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 at certain times, stay closely connected to the church family. Gather with smaller groups as appropriate, and participate in worship gatherings online if that’s the only option.
  • 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.

MEETING NEEDS IN GREATER WASHINGTON, DC

  • Click here for the latest information in how we are caring for our city amidst the Coronavirus crisis.
  • Please fill out this Interest Form to join our MBC Care Team.
  • Download and print this flyer to connect individually with your neighbors in order to care for them.

 

DAILY PRAYER GATHERINGS

Join us on Facebook Live every day at noon as we pray together.

 

RESOURCES AND INFORMATION

 

ACCESSING SUNDAY GATHERINGS WITHOUT INTERNET

In an effort to reach those that might not have access to Internet in their home, nursing home, or hospital room, we have made a phone number available that allows you to listen to our online gatherings live! Know someone this would benefit? Please share with them!

  1. Call 703-570-5160.
  2. To be notified when we go live on Sundays at 9 am, press “1” and the system will call you.
  3. If you miss the live gathering at any point during the week, you can call in and listen to the full service on-demand.