On Friday, March 13th, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency to release federal funds in the fight against coronavirus. Since, we have seen numerous postponements, closings, and cancellations from sports to business. This rapid progression in response to coronavirus has halted the world and US economy. With everything else considered, pastors have cancelled services until further notice. They are offering alternatives to church services. Obviously, this is being done to protect people and be good neighbors in the community. However, some people are not feeling that way.
Some people have went out of their way to post their displeasures on social media – imagine that. It’s being criticized as a move shrouded in fear, but isn’t there a difference between fear and wisdom? Each church has a population of elderly people and, hopefully, infants and toddlers. Both groups are susceptible to Covid-19. One of the jobs of pastor is to lead his church as safely and wisely as possible. Is the wise thing to do to cancel services that put these subgroups at risk? Absolutely. People are rightly led by conviction (or habit) to church each Sunday and Wednesday. If the church doors are open, they will be there.
Some implore that people who fall into these subgroups should stay home, which is a fine recommendation for them. However, as rapidly as Covid-19 has spread and despite how severe or not severe it is, we can limit people dying. We have something that the early church did not – streaming. We can watch services or sermons online. That should not take the place of being present during typical times.
In addition, to best serve the community, we should refrain from places where our presence is not essential. We should decontaminate, clean, and sanitize everything as we go. Whatever precautions can be taken should be taken. Likewise, wherever help is needed, it should be given. That is the ultimate calling of the church – to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves. Taking care of the vulnerable is where cancelling services falls.
We do not fear this virus. We use wisdom during this time. We know God can heal any disease, but we should also know that if we can prevent it – we should.
So, stop grandstanding. Stop questioning the faith of pastors who cancel services. The church has survived so much through the last 2,000 years. It’s bigger than you and me. During Apostle Paul’s ministry, we read how he performed many miraculous works through the name of Jesus and the Holy Ghost. At one point, he was so anointed that his clothes and aprons became prayer cloths.
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.Acts 19:11-12 (KJV)
There is a tremendous opportunity here to show how prayers of faith work. This is the time that the world needs a fearless, wise church.
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.James 5:15 (KJV)
I want to leave you with this scripture:
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:5-7 (KJV)