Churches Should Not Be So Quick to Reopen During the Coronavirus Pandemic
For the past several weeks, most states in the United States have been under stay-at-home orders. The governors of some states are allowing businesses to reopen in the coming days. Even though churches will have that option to reopen, leaders should think twice and even more times about letting their churches remain closed.
When weighed against the danger that is still lurking in the environment, in-person worship should be delayed longer for several reasons.
Churches Should Stay Closed
The Liberty Counsel is a Christian legal team that has defended congregations that went against government orders and continued to hold in-person worship services during the mandatory shut down. At first, the Liberty Counsel encouraged churches nationwide to resume services starting May 3 in what had been called “ReOpen Church Sunday.” The organization has since changed its decision and is advising churches to stay closed much longer.
Pastors are shepherds of their flock. This surely is an excellent time for them to be good examples and think carefully about the welfare of their sheep by allowing their churches to remain closed until the pandemic is no longer a threat to anyone.
Sanctuaries Are Ideal Places for Pandemic to Spread
Some states have given businesses and churches the option that they could be opened, but it does not mean that they should be opened.
When weighed against the danger that is still lurking in the environment, in-person worship should be delayed longer for several reasons, according to Christianity Today.
Older Adults Need to Be Protected
Some churches are made up of older adults who should be protected. They might be among those who are eager to return to in-person worship. Before the pandemic, the church was one of the things older people looked forward to every Sunday. Now they miss the fellowship. They are tired of social distancing from their friends at church. Also, they are the group less likely to participate in digital options their church offers.
Many things are still not known about COVID-19, but one of the most consistent findings is that the virus has a much higher fatality rate among older adults and especially with those who have underlining health issues.
More than 53 percent of Christians who attend church regularly are 55 years or older. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 91 percent of all deaths related to the virus have occurred among adults 55 or older. That number makes up 29 percent of the population.
African American Churches
The coronavirus has resulted in a disproportional rate on African Americans. Therefore, leaders of African American churches should be extra careful and should not be so quick to reopen their churches. People who attend those churches are at a greater risk than those in Caucasian churches.
Reports in the news prove this to be true. At least 30 African American bishops and pastors in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) have died from the virus. That number is much less than Caucasian church leaders.
Added Responsibilities to Open Churches
Leaders should realize that opening their churches will not be the same as they were before the coronavirus. Rushing back to a sanctuary comes with added responsibilities. There will be extra efforts to sanitize every area of the church. Handwashing and six-foot social distancing between attendees must be carefully monitored.
Returning to the space of worship to sing, sit in pews, kneel, and greet still have the possibility of unknowingly spreading the virus. People can spread the virus, and they could also contract it from someone else.
Churches were one of the hot spots for the initial outbreaks of the virus in the United States. Georgia was one of those hot spots, and now it is one of the states allowed to reopen.
Opening a Church Doesn't Demonstrate Faith
Leaders of some churches don't have to reopen their churches because they never closed them during the stay-at-home mandate. They explain that faith would keep them safe. However, being obedient to public health experts and the state government doesn’t violate faith. Instead, it demonstrates faith. Some of those leaders who kept their churches open died and put others in danger as a result of disobeying the stay-at-home order.
Unfortunately, some people think they should be in a church building to worship God. People who read the Bible and have a relationship with God know they can worship Him at home, in their closet, or at places other than in a church building made by man.
It is traditional to be in the church building to worship, but worship can take place wherever you are. It’s a wonderful thing to be together physically, but we can be together without it being physical.
There are various ways people can still connect during the pandemic. With technology, they can meet through virtual meetings on the internet and through telephone conferences. Think about what would be missing if those avenues weren't available.
Leaders fail their people when they demand that they return to the church building prematurely. God gave everyone free will. People should use their free will and common sense not to return to the church building if they feel they will be unsafe.
Yes, Hebrews 10:25 says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." However, God is not going to prevent anyone from going to heaven just because they are not physically in church during a time when it is unsafe.
Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in California for over 40 years and author of The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church said, "God gave you a brain. And much of what God wants to do with your life, He’s not going to write in the sky. He gave you a brain, and he expects you to use the intelligence that you were given."