INDOOR worship - Sundays @ 9:00 & 11:00 AM
Sunday Live Stream @ 9:00 & 11:00 AM
We’re excited to announce that indoor worship resumes on Sunday, September 20th at 9:00 & 11:00 AM! We hope you will join us. Below we’ve compiled the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions that you might have as we come together again in the church facility. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, please contact the Elders. We look forward to seeing you soon!
• Only on a limited basis to sponsored ministries. Please contact the front office for further information.
For us, ‘normal’ meant a certain way of doing things in Midland, MI. But in reality, there is no such thing as “normal” church.
Methods change all the time, but the Message never does.
What remains is the Gospel, and to that end, THE Church has never closed. True, buildings have been shuttered, but the building is not the church.
The Church is God’s people, purchased by Christ’s blood, united by God’s spirit, submitting together to God’s Word, accountable to His leadership, practicing His commands (ordinances, sacraments, and discipline) for the purpose of bringing Him glory by building His kingdom and beautifying His bride.
That, Jesus tells us, will never stop.
Some things will change. But the Gospel never will.
As time progresses, we would expect that we will see some things go back to the way they were before Covid-19, but some things will not.
Hopefully we’ve learned from our experience. We’ve been forced to stretch and grow, to reimagine and re-envision the way things could be. We have been filtered, sifted, and refined. We’re thankful that God has not left us forsaken but instead has continued to sanctify us through this difficult time. May His will be done in us, the Church, throughout all generations, for Christ Jesus to whom be the honor, and glory and power and praise forever and ever. Amen.
Your Midland Free Elder Board
Len Bogan, Troy Griese, Marty Hill, Jeff Koehlinger, Mike Ladenburger, Josh Stevens, Pastor Jeremy Lobdell
Resuming Indoor Worship at Midland Free
To our Midland Free Church Family,
At the outset of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we set forth to follow the Holy Spirit by faith one step at a time, intending to:
• Please God
• Bless our community
• Walk in Wisdom
• Follow by faith
• Trust God for the outcome.
Since then, we have sought His wisdom, read articles, gathered data, learned from other churches, and listened to a wide range of feedback to understand both the pandemic and the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of our congregation.
To be clear, we believe that the Bible mandates careful, conscientious obedience of individual believers to governing officials within their proper sphere of authority, whether we like their orders, mandates, or rulings or not. However we do not believe that any earthly government or official has the right to take actions to exercise ecclesiastical authority, supplant Jesus Christ as the head of the church, or otherwise restrict, delimit, or otherwise forbid the body of believers to assemble (see Matthew 16;18; 28:18, Ephesians 1:21-23; Ephesians 5:23-27). i 1
On March 15, 2020, in response to the first of many state executive orders placing limits on indoor and outdoor public assemblies to address the COVID-19 outbreak, our church voluntarily ceased in-person, weekly public worship services, along with most other in person corporate gatherings, and began a weekly live stream worship format.
In March, when deciding to temporarily cease in-person corporate worship and related activities, we trusted the statements of public authorities concerning the COVID outbreak that these restrictions were supposed to be short-term measures to flatten the curve. In the face of great uncertainty at that time about the severity of the virus and the initial devastating projections of death and overwhelming of hospitals, we believed it was incumbent on us as Christians to help guard the public health, support the concerns of health officials, and care for others as Jesus would. Until now, we have voluntarily supported the suggested measures to slow the virus’ progress.
We maintained that practice until August 9, 2020, at which time we moved to an outdoor weekly worship service (with appropriate social distancing) along with a supplemental live stream format.
Today, the situation is much different. Professionals continue to gather data and locally the curve has flattened and our local hospital is not overwhelmed. The restrictions have endured largely without relief for over 20 weeks. Our ability to encourage and build up one another as God intends and commands is being significantly compromised, including our ability to maintain healthy biblical unity, meet opportunities to serve and minister in a timely manner, and offer the crucial fellowship and encouragement needed by so many who are distressed, fearful, and suffering amidst these challenging times. Against such a reality, we can no longer voluntarily acquiesce to restrictions on our weekly times of in-person corporate worship.
Thus, after considerable prayer, study, and deliberation, we, the Board of Elders of Midland Free Evangelical Church, have concluded that we can no longer continue to fully comply with these orders which operate to effectively limit indefinitely our ability to worship together in-person as a church body, build one another up, and maintain unity.
Accordingly, starting no later than October 4, 2020, we will resume indoor, in person, worshiping together on campus.
Our decision in March and our decision today attempt to balance the scriptural command to obey our God-ordained governmental authorities, provided they do not violate God’s will (see Mark 12:17, ii Romans 13 iii and 1 Peter 2 iv ), and, on the other hand, the scriptural commands, among others, to not forsake the practice of assembling together as a church, to worship together, to build one another up, and to experience close communion among believers (see Hebrews 10:25; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). v
We take these actions in light of the serious obligations we carry as shepherds of God’s local church (see 1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17), vi with no malice or ill-will to our governing authorities.
We intend to continue to do all that we reasonably can to preserve and protect the health and safety of our body, including adherence to applicable guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local departments of health and continuing to live stream our weekly services to those who prefer to continue to worship from home.
Finally, we fully affirm that no matter what,
1. God is good.
2. God is in control, and
3. Jesus wins.
Please call us or contact the Elders if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you.
Your Elder Board
Len Bogan, Troy Griese, Marty Hill, Jeff Koehlinger, Mike Ladenburger, Josh Stevens, Pastor Jeremy Lobdell
1For a fuller presentation of this relationship of the church towards Christ and the State, see the Grace Church statement to which we are highly indebted in our development of this statement.
i Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 28:18 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Ephesians 1:21–23 (ESV)
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 5:23–27 (ESV)
23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
ii Mark 12:17 (ESV)
17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
iii Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)
Submission to the Authorities
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
iv 1 Peter 2:13–25 (ESV)
Submission to Authority
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
v Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Ephesians 5:18–19 (ESV)
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
vi 1 Peter 5:1–4 (ESV)
Shepherd the Flock of God
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.