Navigating Crisis

The plethora of opinions on this present declared pandemic is vastly different and the pendulum swings to both extremes.  Here are some thoughts for you to consider as we strive to approach this biblically and with wisdom.  The Bible must establish our moral baseline because it is the divine standard.  Yes, the Bible is our guideline and the Holy Spirit is our guide.  The scriptures do not reveal to us the logistics of individual decisions that involve the when, how, and where. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. 

When you decide how to face this health concern think about the following statement that was on twitter this week.  “Church A – feels led to cancel Sunday Services.  Church B – feels led to maintain Sunday Services.  Let every pastor be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He who cancels does so for the Lord.  He who maintains does so for the Lord.  #TrustYourPastor.  #DontJudgeAnotherChurch.  #SameTeam.”  These are difficult waters to navigate and there is no 100% right or wrong.  Even that statement will be debated and disagreed with.

The New Testament, as it functioned in the book of Acts, was built on home churches.  It is part of the reason why the church has survived crisis after crisis and has remained a force in the world up to today.  Once again, churches and believers will weather this storm through God’s grace and direction.  Much is being said about these present health concerns.  We have all been watching these developments closely and have consulted with many to decide what is best.  Here are some things to consider if you do decide to continue with services.

If through the leadership of the Holy Spirit you decide to have services be mindful of individual health and the health of your church community.  Instruct your people accordingly, that if they are a health risk, do not attend.  If they are not comfortable with being there, do not attend.  If they are sick, do not attend and let everyone know it is ok to stay home.  Encourage every family to decide what is best for them and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Make all aware of the options without any pressure or guilt.

You may decide not to have a nursery or children’s church.  Make your people aware that if their children come with them they will be required to stay with their parents.  This decision may prompt them to stay at home with their children and that is understandable.  Once again, utilize the biblical principle of, “Each one must be fully convinced in their own mind.”  The driving force here is not fear or panic but rather wisdom, safety, and good health practices.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives excellent guidelines on maintaining good health.

Make sure that everything will be wiped down and sanitized before anyone arrives.  Think of all the door handles, light switches, and faucets.  You might consider propping open all of the entrance doors so people do not have to touch them.  Advise and instruct them to not shake hands but instead greet with a smile and say hello.  If your custom is to pass an offering plate consider just having a basket in the back, where they can give at the end of the service.  Place hand sanitizer at every door, which honestly, should have already been there.

That was Plan A, but you may decide that Plan B is the better option for your church.  Yes, this virus scare might be getting blown out of proportion but you believe it is better to be safe than sorry.  Officials have asked everyone to limit their exposure to crowds as best we can.  There are many ways to utilize technology.  There is live streaming, Facebook live, and other ways to worship corporately but not necessarily being in the same room.  The primary focus of the church could shift from a spectator sport and watching the show to being the church.  

This might be the perfect time for a dress rehearsal for your church to get a taste of what it means to be both deeply communal & intentionally missional.  This is a wonderful opportunity to refresh, recharge, & refocus.  This is a time that should help us to appreciate the underground church because this is their regular routine every single week.  Corporate worship was designed to remind us of what really is important in our lives.  God could use this to increase our appreciation for the importance of corporate worship.

Maybe this is not a crisis but rather a great opportunity for the local church to live on mission and be less focused on only the show!!!  What if God is using this virus to reorient His people to love him more than a building and to get back to family worship?

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