Churches are Essential
President Trump just announced that he considers churches to be essential.
I'm glad for that. I believe they are. I believe nothing is more important than our relationship with God and with one another. I believe that matters of the spirit affect all of life in profound ways. When we are strong and healthy in spirit, we can have healthy societies and lives.
With that being said, I want to urge us to be wise in how we proceed. We should be led not just by the president, but by the love of Christ, the Spirit of God, and with wise council, including heeding the guidance of medical and scientific professionals.
I look forward to worshiping in-person. However, I have also been enjoying worshiping online. Each has its own strengths. The online experience is diminished in some ways but enhanced in other ways. We are reaching more people than we did when we met primarily in person. Our understanding of church and the possibilities of mission are expanding. We are experiencing creativity and innovation in how we share our faith. As odd as it may seem, I do not feel less connected as a congregation, just differently connected.
If we were to restart in-person worship immediately, it would be with strict distancing guidelines. We would be six feet apart. There would be no mingling or fellowship time before or after worship. There would be no congregational singing or live band. Everyone would be in masks. People over 65 would be urged to not attend. Children in worship would be difficult to have. It would be such a diminished experience, I would actually prefer to worship online at that point.
Then there is the matter of witness to the world around us, to our neighbors. What does it communicate if we rush to reopen and people become sick? I think this would be harmful to Christ's reputation in the world.
The fact of the matter is, we are not closed as a church. We are still worshiping. We are still helping those who are struggling and hungry around us. We are still meeting in online home groups. We still have Bible studies. When we are able to understand church as spiritual connection rather than as simply geographical gathering, we realize that the church can still be the church without a building.
Nothing will replace in-person worship and fellowship. We need this. But we will proceed with wisdom and love rather than just our own need to gather. I hope we can gather soon. We will prepare the sanctuary to reconvene and think through the guidelines we will put in place to do so. But let's not rush this.
Praise God that we live in a nation where we can worship freely. I praise God that churches still have an essential place in our society. I rejoice because there are still people of faith all over our nation. May we all make ready to move forward into a new and better normal by the Spirit of Jesus.