What is your church doing in light of the spread of COVID-19? I’ve heard a number of options this week.
Most churches have suspended all gatherings until April 6, possibly longer. Wow! (Michigan’s Governor Whitmer mandated indoor meetings of no more than 50 people from March 17 through April 5.)
Churches with the technological capability have moved online – posting sermons, praise team music, and other encouragement. Virtual and largely individual – but that may be what’s needed right now. What do you think?
Mark Devers of 9Marks said in a recent podcast that his church will not meet for several Sundays with no online sermons or other worship service elements provided to the congregation. Devers said, “A video of a sermon is not a substitute for a covenanted congregation assembling together.” He believes this “period of abstinence” is healthier spiritually for his congregation than a “substitute” worship service. Food for thought.
After meeting with our board on Tuesday afternoon, I wrote and videotaped a message to the church of which I am currently interim pastor. We’re planning to gather as usual this Sunday and discern best steps from there. Our church averages around 50 people and a few of our folks are staying home, so we’ll be in compliance with Gov Whitmer’s mandate of 50 people or less.
Depending on our governor’s guidance next week, we’re considering gathering in “house churches” of 8-10 people. We have D Groups (Discussion Groups) in place that we will re-purpose and ramp up as home groups. If we need to move to these smaller gatherings, we’ll provide each group with a weekly video of the sermon, songs, pastoral prayer, and discussion questions. We are also giving our people practical suggestions and support in caring for one another, neighbors and coworkers.
Many churches around the world meet in this way. At its best, this is a good step closer to New Testament church practice – holistic, missional home groups, led by growing “lay” believers who are being equipped by pastor-elders.
Whatever our churches decide, we need to be careful not to define “church” as our Sunday morning service, offered at a certain sacred location, led by the professionals and supported by “lay people.” Only in America! God help us to understand – and give us the courage to live out – Jesus’ intentions for His church. These uncertain times highlight our definitions of Jesus’ ekklesia.
I told our church this week that God has kingdom purpose in what is happening right now. This is not time for Jesus’ church to shrink back and minimize, but to take wise and bold gospel steps with our congregation and in our community. We need gospel perspective and gospel courage in these days!
Enough from me. 🙂 What are your churches doing – and what do you think about it?