Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
The Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, defied an emergency order by Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards banning public or a private gathering with more than 50 people to stop the spread of COVID-19. Just before the Police arrived on Tuesday night, March 18, 2020, pastor Tony Spell stood in the pulpit of his Louisiana church and delivered a message to hundreds of worshipers.
The Pastor said he wanted to encourage the religious world to keep going to church and keep on worshiping God. He told his congregation, “the church is a hospital for the sick! It’s a place of healing for the brokenhearted!”
Pastor Spell is not the only religious leader who believes that Covid-19 should not stop corporate worship. Other churches also have corporate worship despite emergency orders from their state authority. Whereas I agree with the theology of these pastors, I cannot entirely agree with their methodology.
We should not have to risk the health and wellness of our brothers and sisters for the sake of corporate worship in this age of technological innovation. Yes, the church is a hospital for the sick. However, the church should not be a place where people come to get sick. Christians have to err on the side of caution for the sake of the larger good. We are obligated to do whatever necessary to protect our community. In this case, that means practicing social distancing.
Nevertheless, social distancing does not prevent us from doing impactful ministry. To the contrary, I think Covid-19, gives churches the best opportunity, in at least 100 years, to strengthen relationships within their membership, while developing effective outreach ministries in their communities.
In the book of Acts, believers studied together, prayed together, ate together, and fellowshipped with one another. We can still do those things despite COVID-19. We just cannot do them in very large numbers as we have become accustomed to doing. We can study the Bible together virtually. Believers can still eat together and pray together.
Now more than ever, people are forced to connect with other believers. Many Christians would purposely attend churches with large memberships so they can remain anonymous. Covid-19 is changing that for the better. No more hiding among a large public. We have to be intentional in reaching out to the elderly, creating opportunities for fellowship and prayer and Bible study in smaller groups.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Those who want to be of service to the kingdom of God during this season of crisis should be excited for the opportunities they now have to serve God through loving connection. Instead of posting pictures of food and places we went on vacation on social media, we should be reaching out to people to make sure they are okay. Those who are working from home should take five minutes every hour to call or text or send an email to an elderly person to see if they do not need us to go food shopping for them.
Covid-19 is a deadly virus, indeed. However, it may well lead to the salvation of many souls, and many relationships rehabilitated, as well as amending the spirit of division and partisanship that have been wreaking havoc in this country. Therefore, let us not get frustrated because we cannot have corporate worship on Sundays. Instead, let us make sure we practice being the church every day.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help your people to be intentional in serving one another through loving connection.