A note from Pastor Evan (July 25, 2020)
Recently my father-in-law, also a pastor, sent me this quote: “Wishing I’d taken better notes in Bible school when I took that elective on ‘How to pastor through a global pandemic, a recession, and another Civil Rights Movement.’” This isn’t exactly what my pastoral training prepared me for either. 2020 has already been a roller coaster of events and emotions, and not the fun kind. More like the “Oh no… This was a terrible life decision!… When will this be over?!… God, if you help me survive this, I’ll be a missionary forever!!!” kind.
Who knows what next week’s headlines will bring, but as I have been reminded in Revelation recently, we have have a God who is not surprised or panicked… who is moving his plans for history toward their conclusion as purposefully today as he was yesterday… and who is building his Church and achieving his glory in the midst of (and often through) our crisis. The gospel is our guarantee:
 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne…  And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5;6-7, 9-10, ESV)
And I have to tell you, God has already given signs of this faithfulness. Some of you have become more desperate for his presence and his people than ever before. Some of you have begun experiencing the effects of the gospel upon your marriage, your depression, your sex life, your partiality, your addiction, your anxiety in ways that only crises like these could provoke. And, some of you have begun investigating the gospel for the very first time! Only our God could do what we are seeing him do (and still more that we don’t), and even if he feels far from you right now, a day is coming when we will see that he has dealt well with us.
Before I jump into some updates, let me ask, how is God using this season in your life? What sins is he surfacing? What new desires is he provoking? What truths from his Word are shining through? What new opportunities is he giving to make sense of the cross and resurrection of Christ? What is he moving you even now to repent of, plead for, act upon? What assurances is he calling you to hold fast?
These times should not leave us the same, and if we’re honest, do we want them to? Are we really so content with the state of our hearts, our families, our friendships, our culture?
Now onto some updates…
BAYLESS KIDS & SUNDAY BIBLE STUDIES
Many have asked when we will be resuming Bayless Kids and our Sunday morning Bible studies, and I can certainly understand why! You are missing your friendships more than ever before, and this season has presented unique challenges for parents of young children engaging in corporate worship.
Initially our plan was to resume July 12th. However, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have risen in St. Louis, leading both city and county to increase their restrictions (such as the recent mask requirement for public gatherings where social distancing is not possible). It seems likely these restrictions are only going to increase further in the coming weeks, and so, it seems wise to postpone these gatherings for some time.
Even as we wish these environments could resume, I want to celebrate with you not only that our Sunday morning gatherings have resumed but that our team has worked hard to make them a low-risk venue. Some examples of the precautions we have taken include:
- spacing the chairs in the auditorium for social distancing
- shortening our order of service
- increasing sanitation of shared surfaces
- moving to a digital bulletin
- encouraging other methods of greeting than handshakes, high-fives, and hugs
- adjusting the way we celebrate Communion and receive giving
- requiring face masks as individuals move to and from their seat
- offering the Fellowship Hall as an overflow venue for families with young children
- and more!
We will keep you posted as events develop, and we still encourage those who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 to consider their return with caution, and those who have reason to suspect they may have been exposed to the virus should remain home. If you are delaying your return for these or other reasons, know we love and support you, and we hope you continue to worship with us online via http://bayless.online.church.
That being said, if you are able and comfortable returning, we encourage you to join us in-person for worship this Sunday. My wife put it this way this week:
Church in this season is hard. Really hard… As a pastors wife, I’ve grown accustomed to being a “single mom” on Sunday mornings as I fly solo- and even more so these days as our church has not yet resumed any nursery care or children’s ministries. Most Sundays are spent chasing a wild toddler while bouncing a needy baby and convincing the older two to sit still- all while wearing a face mask. Inevitably, we usually end up down in the fellowship hall alone where my kids can run free and I can catch bits and pieces of my husband’s sermon. Some Sundays we leave before the final song. So why bother? Is it worth the effort? Admittedly, many Sunday mornings I’m not sure it is.
But it IS. Because this is the CHURCH. This is where once a week we can meet with our fellow believers to hear the Word preached and join in corporate worship of our King. Because church is not about our own comfort, but about laying aside our preferences in order to focus on what is most important–the Glory of God. Because, even though they may not catch much from the sermon yet, I’m communicating something to my children by making the effort to go. That we LOVE the CHURCH. In all her mess, in all her glory. This is the bride of Christ…
The church is not a building, but God has designed for the church to worship him as a people in a place.
Christians, if you have taken this season as a time to “take a break” from church or are simply waiting for your class to resume, please hear me appeal to you as your pastor and brother, God deserves our worship, others need your worship, and when we neglect it, our souls only wither. You may be in Bible study weekly, watching sermons daily, or reading Christian books regularly, but for the sake of our holiness and his glory, none of these are replacements for God’s Church worshipping together.
That being said, let me encourage everyone reading this to be gracious toward others who come to different convictions during these times, outdoing one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10), and please pray for your leaders as they navigate these conflict-clogged times with clarity, compassion, and courage.
As you can expect, these days have had an economic impact on the church. As it stands right now, we are nearing $10,000 behind what we received in tithes and offerings during this same season (Mar 14-July 23) of last year.
We praise God that our church has not been as hard-hit as many and for many who have remained generous even while their own financial stability has taken a hit. We are also certain that the Lord is not limited in his ability to provide.
However, the Bible reminds us that giving is an act of obedience and joy for the Christian even (or perhaps especially) in difficult times. In giving to his work in the local church, we are confessing several things—our dependence upon the Lord, our gratitude for his provision, our love for our brothers and sisters, our desire to see the gospel advance.
And so, if you consider Bayless to be your church home, especially if you are a covenant member, consider your giving prayerfully and courageously. The Bible does not mandate a certain amount, but it does instruct God’s people to give and to do so generously, sacrificially, and full of joy. You may find the example of the Macedonians as challenging as I do:
 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,  for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,  begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…  I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4,8-9, ESV)
God has designed for the gospel work of a local church to be dependent upon the generosity of his people. It is one of our highest privileges and one of the ways we grow the most as disciples of Christ.
If you would like to give for the first time or adjust your giving, you can do so in two ways: 1) online at www.baylessbaptist.org/give and 2) via check, sending it to Bayless Baptist Church, 8512 Morganford Rd., St. Louis, 63123.
If you have any questions or needs, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are so loved, friends, by Christ and by this church.