Update about Sunday Morning Services

  

Watch Our Live October 25 Service Here

September 27, 2020 Update

Time Change!
Our outdoor service will be Sunday mornings at 10:00am starting this Sunday, October 4. It will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel for those of you who will be watching from home.

September 4, 2020 Update

 Our Saturday evening services have been well attended and a blessing to our church.  Our starting time will remain at 6:00 p.m. until we adjust to an earlier time in October as we lose daylight. 

We will resume our usual first Sunday of the month communion this weekend.  For those attending our Saturday service in person, we will provide self-contained, presealed communion elements prior to the service.

As we head into the fall we expect nice weather for the services ahead.  If inclement weather is forecasted, we may cancel outdoor services on Saturday and move inside for a "virtual only" service for Sunday with only essential personal per our governmental restrictions. 

Please be mindful of the government requirements for social distancing and the wearing of masks if you choose to attend our outdoor service.  Please also consider attending our other worship opportunities (with the same restrictions), such as a Growth Group or ministries for men, women or children.  We look forward to the day soon when we will be able to resume normal ministry in the future but until then we patiently enjoy the opportunities we have and trust our Lord to do His work in and through us.

 

August 17, 2020 Update

The Church and Government Appendix

Twenty years ago, we published a position paper entitled “The Church and Government” where we taught the obligation of our submission to our governing authorities according to the Scripture, along with the exceptions to this command of Romans 13:1-7.  This year has brought new opportunities for the application of this passage with the Covid-19 pandemic.  Health concerns have led to governmental restrictions that have brought great challenges to life as we have known it.  Businesses have closed, people have lost jobs, and relationships have been greatly reduced if not eliminated.  The difficulties that our world has faced have been great even apart from those who have suffered illness and the loss of loved ones.

This suffering has led some to question whether we ought to ignore the governmental restrictions in order to return to a sense of normalcy.  This desire has even led some Christians to advocate for civil disobedience.  This has brought a need to expand upon our position paper to include additional aspects that have become even more relevant now as the Elders of Valley Bible Church seek to bring care and ministry to the members of Valley Bible Church.

Church is not defined by the form it takes.

The church is literally the “called out ones” and exists whether together in one place or apart in many places.  There is the universal church, which the gates of hell will not prevail against, and there are local churches, which are made up of the wheat and the tares and may cease to exist at some point.  

Local churches may be very large or very small and there is no greater value of one church of 1,000 people over 100 churches of ten people.  Churches with elaborate buildings have no greater worth in the sight of God than churches with no building at all.  The particular form the church takes may vary due to governmental restriction but these changes in form do not negate the essence of the church that the Lord said the gates of Hades will not overpower (Matthew 16:18).

A church building is not necessary to obey the command of Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

We have been able to assemble ourselves together as often as we wish, whether virtually only in the Spring or personally since the end of May.  Currently, in addition to our small group ministry that is expressed in various forms, we are able to join together as a church for a worship service outside as often as we would like.

We were also able to assemble ourselves together virtually during the entire pandemic as often as we would like.  While less satisfying than meeting in person, it nevertheless is a form of gathering that allows us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

Meeting in a church building is not required to follow Hebrews 10:25 since Hebrews 10:25 was written when church buildings did not exist.

Undesirable limits placed on us by the government do not negate our responsibility to follow the commands to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7).

In the restrictions placed upon us during the Covid-19 pandemic, the governing authorities have not prohibited us from practicing righteousness, nor have they ordered us to sin.  There has been no mandate from any governing authority that has crossed this threshold.

While we are under certain restrictions, the government may limit our freedom without forbidding us from practicing righteousness or forcing us to sin.  Our entire society is limited in various ways (zoning, traffic laws, criminal statutes, etc.) and has additional limitations in the present pandemic.  Limitations do not prohibit obedience.

Simply because we may not agree with the government laws does not give us the right to disobey because we think they have gone too far in our opinion, unless they necessarily force us to disobey the Lord.

We have not yielded our spiritual authority under God to the secular government.

Not only have we not submitted our spiritual role in overseeing the church to the government, we have done the opposite of this charge.  It is our responsibility before God to teach the Bible.  The Bible teaches us to honor those in authority and to submit to every human institution (1 Peter 2:13-17).  By encouraging the application of Scripture the elders of Valley Bible Church are shepherding the church to obey the truth of God’s Word.

Seeking to adhere to governmental restrictions does not thwart real ministry to people.

Our ministry to people is only in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it (Psalm 127:1).  By obeying the governing authorities as instructed by God’s word, we believe the ministry that God intends will be served.  We prefer to do God’s work in accordance with God’s revealed will even if it may seem to hamper ministry from an earthly perspective.

There is no time limit for our submission to perceived unfair government restrictions.

The perspective that the church is being singled out and persecuted unfairly is questionable in light of the fact that we were granted the right to assemble during the month of June while other assembling was prohibited.  We are still allowed to meet in a large assembly outside while other entities are prohibited.  Examples include sports teams, concerts, plays, and clubs.

If we believe that the government’s restrictions are unfair and biased against us, we must recognize that this is the very reason for the command to submit in Romans 13:1.  Submission to something to which we agree is easy, but submission to that which we disagree, especially that results in perceived unjust persecution, follows Christ's example and gains favor with God (1 Peter 2:20).  There is no timeframe for obedience to the commands of Scripture.

If we fail to submit according to the will of God because we become weary of inconveniences, what is our future if we suffer under more oppressive restrictions than most Christians have endured?

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:17).  1 Peter 2:17 is in the context of “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13).

The first amendment of the US constitution does not grant us the right to practice our religion in any way we wish without restriction from the government.

Beyond crimes such as fraud and abuse committed by leaders of churches, the government also restricts churches on the basis of health and safety.  Examples include building construction codes, occupancy limits, zoning restrictions and noise ordinances.  

Nevertheless, specific governing authorities are potentially limited by the state and national constitution.   However, we do not have the right to decide if a specific order has violated the constitution, as this responsibility has been given to the courts. The interpretation of the US Constitution ultimately belongs to the US Supreme Court.  Yet if we believe a law is unconstitutional we are able to appeal to the courts.  Yet we cannot ignore laws until they have been suspended or overturned by the courts.

Our responsibility to the government is independent of the US Constitution as the words of Romans 13 were written to a people under a far more oppressive government than we live under.  

We must disobey the governing authorities only when there is no other way to obey the commands of God.

Civil disobedience is a last resort if there is no other way forward to live righteously.  If we arrive at this point, we should seek to maintain faithfulness to 1 Timothy 2:1-6 by praying for those in authority and by seeking to lead a tranquil and quiet life, with godliness and dignity.  This will lead to quiet resistance rather than loud protests for the sake of the gospel.  We should refuse, but not revolt.

The reason that 1 Timothy 2 gives us to pray for our leaders and pursue a peaceful and quiet life is because it is good in the sight of God, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  If our disobedience brings unnecessary conflict and criticism, this may well become a barrier to communication of the gospel.

Conclusion

Obeying the revealed will of God is essential to fruitful ministry.  We cannot expect the Lord to bless rebellion against His will.  However, the goal of loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves is not achieved simply by obeying the governing authorities.  We have a far greater mission for Christ, to proclaim Him by warning and teaching every man with all wisdom, for which we toil according to His power which powerfully works with us (Colossians 1:28-29).  

Our submission to the government is for the sake of righteousness and we seek to live at peace with these authorities so that we can fulfill the Lord’s mission for us to preach the word.

 

 

July 29, 2020 Update 

We are excited to offer our first outdoor worship service this Saturday (August 1) evening at 7pm located on the grass area by the offices! In addition to backyard/virtual bible studies, we believe this will be a great opportunity to come together in our devotion to the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship.”

If you choose to attend, please bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on and please maintain social distancing at all times between households. We encourage everyone to exercise care to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, particularly those who are at greater health risk. State guidelines require masks be worn when attending outdoor services. Please plan accordingly.

This outside worship service will be available to view online on Sunday morning by 10:00 am.

 

July 24, 2020 Update

Many people have asked us today what our response is to the exhortations to disobey the governmental order restricting indoor church meetings. We actually wrote our response twenty years ago: The Church and Government Position Paper

The salient point is, "We must distinguish between when the government limits religious freedom and when the government negates religious freedom. Disobedience is not allowed simply because government restricts our ministry. Rather, it must forbid our ministry. Freedom must be limited to some extent for the sake of the society as a whole."

We are not prohibited from the fellowship of the saints. We gather each week while in submission to our governing authorities as required by Romans 13. We simply do this either outside or virtually.

We believe this is the path of faithful obedience to our Lord as we patiently trust the Lord and pray for our government so that we may live tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2).


July 2, 2020 Update

The State of California has prohibited congregational singing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, our worship service will return to online only beginning this Sunday (July 5). The service will be available on our YouTube channel and on our website by 10:00 am at the latest.

 

May 27, 2020 Update

Great news!  This Monday, the Governor of California released a 13 page document entitled "COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies," which details how we are allowed to open our church to meet again.  This will be in force for at least the next 21 days. Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department gave approval for the implementation of these guidelines in our county.

Based upon this guidance, we are planning to begin meeting to the degree possible with our church service Sunday, June 7. The reason for the delay of reopening until June 7 is to ensure we would be able to implement all the requirements well in order to serve our church family.

Also, our Growth Groups will be able to meet as long as they follow the same protocols.  We are leaving the timing of their in-person meeting to each group leader in order for them to minister to the specific needs of their group.

Beginning June 7, we will add a 7:30 service to our existing 9:00 and 10:30 services.  The state will only allow churches to have a maximum of 100 attendees. Once we hit the 100 person limit in our service, we will provide an alternative viewing location in the youth building for the 9:00 and 10:30 services.

For at least June 7 and June 14, we will only hold church services.  No other ministries, including the nursery, will be conducted.

Our church service will continue to be livestreamed.  If you are unable to attend, uncomfortable exposing yourself to potential risk of infection, are challenged with bringing young children or are simply interested in freeing up seats for others, the livestream option is encouraged.  As with every service, you may view it at your leisure on www.valleybible.net or on our YouTube channel.

If you choose to attend, keep these things in mind:

- It is imperative that you do not attend if you are feeling ill.  Pursuant to the state guidelines, we will be taking temperatures of everyone gathering to ensure the safety of those attending.

- It is necessary that everyone over the age of two wear facemasks while we are inside the building.  If you are uncomfortable with this requirement, our online video would be a good alternative.

- It is essential that you maintain at least six feet of social distance from everyone beyond your immediate household the entire time you are on our campus.  Only alternating rows will be open for seating and do not sit any closer than six feet from anyone not in your household.  Please refrain from any physical touching or sharing of materials.

- While we are all excited to be able to finally see each other again, please be safe and implement these limitations.  Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer, which we will have available for you in the foyer.  Due to the possibility of asymptomatic transmission of the virus, we should recognize that everyone is potentially infectious.

- Most of all, do not forget that our God is sovereign over all these challenges and we can trust Him fully for our lives as we serve Him.  Stay safe, be faithful and overcome fear with faith!

 

 

March 17, 2020 Update

Dear Valley Bible Church,

In light of the current news of the Covid-19 pandemic, the combined restrictions provided to us by our national, state, county and city governments and out of abundance of caution for the health of our congregation and community, we consider it necessary to cancel all formal ministries of Valley Bible Church effective immediately. We do not know how long this season will last and will continue to monitor events and government guidance as we seek to return to normalcy.

We have begun to consider ways to minister through this pandemic. Our Growth Group ministry is a primary means of fellowship in our church and this ministry is developing plans to effectively minister to the diversity of people in our church and more information will be forthcoming. If you are not a part of a group, contact the church office (661-942-2218) and we will be eager to help you become connected. Our children's ministry will be providing curriculum to parents to serve their children while our existing children's ministries are suspended. This curriculum is available via email if you ask Kim Taylor. Our Deaf Ministry will continue ministry and teaching through Francisco's facebook page. Beginning Wednesday, we plan to begin a daily posting of Bible teaching from our church on Facebook and on our website as an opportunity to continue to learn God's Word. Finally, we will continue to provide and improve our livestream each Sunday and make that available to you and your family.

We realize the seniors of our church are the most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus and are supposed to be in self-isolation. This obviously will be a hardship for them beyond simply social distancing. While we believe that most of our seniors will have their needs met through their family and friends, there is a possibility for our church to assist some who need help with their basic needs. Our senior ministry is investigating who may need such help and if there are situations we can serve we will look to provide assistance as appropriate at that time.

While this is certainly a drastic action in an unprecedented time, we know that the Lord's work is not hindered by such restrictions. The church is not a building, our formal ministries are a means to an end and we can trust that during this time. We will continue to look for new ways to serve the Lord in the midst of the pandemic. We encourage you to be mindful of the advice from the medical experts and governing authorities and to take their exhortations seriously. We do not know what lies ahead other than we have a great hope of our eternal destiny where there is no longer suffering and death. Please pray for our church as we seek to serve one another and our community in this unique moment in history. Please consider how the Lord may have you take opportunities to serve each other and your fellow man. May God be pleased with each of our responses as we love Him and each other with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

With love in Christ,

The elders of Valley Bible Church