Our weather in Fort Wayne hasn’t been as extreme as the weather faced by friends in the Northeast United States. We have, however, had to make decisions about cancellations this month. Here are some reflections about the process:
1. We try never to say that we are “canceling church”. Instead, we say things like “We are canceling services at the church building” or “there will be no gatherings at the church building.” I understand that sounds clumsy. But if church is the people rather than the facility, then snow cannot cancel the people.
2. On a Sunday afternoon as I drove in freezing slush toward the church building, we were discussing what to do about classes for 7th-12th graders. I started thinking, “Is what I am teaching worth having young drivers risk accidents because of icy roads? If not, shouldn’t it be?”
Here’s what I mean: In a series on Hearing God’s Voice there should be some intensity and danger. Many people who have heard God’s voice have ended up in very dangerous situations. Others have created problems by blaming God for saying things that actually weren’t said. The content in my class can have implications.
We canceled the classes. It was too risky for 17-year-old drivers. But I’m still weighing the question.
3. Do we mention missed offerings? It is possible to think that if we don’t gather on Sunday, there isn’t a need to pay the fee-for-service or to leave a tip. But much of the impact we have happens during the 165 hours a week when there isn’t a way to give.
4. Older people who struggle to drive on dry pavement often feel like they have to come to church on ice unless we say that we aren’t meeting. It’s like we are offering grace that they sometimes can’t offer themselves.