In yesterday’s webinar (link below), I talked about how churches need to move the line and I challenged the state exemptions for churches. I received some great follow-up questions on what I would recommend for church gatherings that I want to address.
✅ 𝐌𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐄 The entire US now has uncontrolled spread except for two states (Picture 1). Cases are increasing 75%, hospitalizations are increasing 50%, and deaths are increasing 60% (Picture 2). That only includes confirmed cases – so, we are more than the 198,000 cases confirmed yesterday, with hospital surges to follow in two weeks. In church, leaders have to toe-the-line to try to please a lot of people. However, we need to move the line. Toeing the line looks very different than it did 1 month ago. The line has moved beyond whether or not to mask.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝?
1. Moving church to online or outdoor (still with distancing and masks). We need an all hands on deck mentality that joins with the wider community in containing the virus. If you feel like you are being overreactive you’re erring on the side of caution at the right time.
2. IF you meet inside (which I do not recommend at this point in the surge), masks, capacity limits, and distance at all times should be non-negotiable – this includes any indoors meetings, Wednesday night fellowships, Tuesday morning bible studies, etc. Some of you pastors are asking great questions about the best ventilation systems and other details on how to meet indoors with the utmost safety in addition to masking, distancing, and capacity limits. Here’s a great website for that: https://coronavirusandthechurch.com/
However, in light of the current surge I would recommend moving online or outside even with all of those additional safety measures in place. 𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐨𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐧.
✅ “What about the spiritual and mental health aspect of church?” Meeting together is ideal but not feasible from a health standpoint and for the sake of our healthcare professionals. So, let’s get creative on meeting these needs through calls, zooms, and other way to show care. If you want to see more helpful hints for you and your congregants on the mental health aspect of the pandemic, I would encourage you to like and follow this site from a trusted expert: https://www.facebook.com/hollyoxhandler Dr. Oxhandler also offers a one-week guide to help us navigate the emotional parts of the pandemic that might be useful for you or your congregants. I would recommend it during this time that is hard on many people. http://www.hollyoxhandler.com/sign-up
✅ 𝐖𝐇𝐘 𝐆𝐎 𝐁𝐄𝐘𝐎𝐍𝐃 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐓𝐄 𝐄𝐗𝐄𝐌𝐏𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐒 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐂𝐇𝐔𝐑𝐂𝐇𝐄𝐒? In many states, churches are exempt from guidelines that are placed on other institutions and businesses (like masking). In others, churches are meeting in defiance of those guidelines. I hear a lot, “Schools are open. Bars are open. Strip clubs are open. So, churches should be too.” Or, “Our governor lets us express our religious freedom by exempting churches.” What I am asking is that we act in keeping with our status as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and follow the guidelines of Jesus – Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5) in which the entire law can be summarized.
Moving online or outdoors is best and can tangibly show our communities that we, as the church, are stepping up with and for our healthcare community.
So you’ll know that I’m not alone in making these recommendations, see this statement from the Christian Medical and Dental Association (20,000+ healthcare professional organization) I would encourage you to read the full statement at the link below: “Voluntarily choosing not to gather allows us to make a statement that is not overshadowed by a government restriction. It enables a church to proclaim to their locality that they care so much for their members, family and friends that they are willing to give up their right to gather together. It allows each church to make a statement of love, not just by their words, but through the action of no longer gathering together. It is tragic to see Christians become even more reviled because we appear to care only about our individual freedoms and don’t care that we may be contributing to others getting this illness because of our selfishness. As Christian healthcare professionals, we will voluntarily restrict our “freedoms” for a time to help protect my neighbor.”
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
𝐂𝐌𝐃𝐀 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭: https://cmda.org/a-plea-to-our-churches/?fbclid=IwAR34HH66kSRff7BNracByrOIrDHNWJdNFdFoK0K-rKNVEi5sSOOVuOR2jNU Picture 1: https://www.covidexitstrategy.org/ Picture 2: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡/𝐅𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬:
1. Who are the neighbors? https://tinyurl.com/y9ykykve
2. What does it mean to have faith over fear? Praying Psalm 91 and living Galatians 5. I also talk about John MacArthur’s stance on church and masking in this post. https://tinyurl.com/yxsaatcf
3. Now is the time to rethink indoor church: https://tinyurl.com/y5uk354l
4. This is the best sermon I’ve heard so far on this topic by Andy Stanley. If you haven’t heard it yet, I’d highly recommend it.: https://tinyurl.com/y6fqajxc
5. Masks are faith-filled and faith-ful. Faith-filled is about us. Faith-ful is about the neighbor. Both/And are important.. The distinction matters. https://tinyurl.com/y2od5n6f