Well, I am now fully vaccinated and past my 14 day waiting period.
Last week was my first week back in a live church service since the pandemic began. I was asked to preach at a church in a different city on the subject of work, which I was happy to do. But before I agreed, I asked if they were following best practices regarding the pandemic; I didn’t want to be part of encouraging a super-spreader event. Fortunately, they were doing it right, requiring masks, social distancing, and operating at a reduced attendance capacity.
Today, I return to a live church service at my church for the first time since the pandemic began. I am proud to say my church has done it right, conducting services solely on line for months and then starting back with live services at a reduced capacity, with temperature checks, social distancing, and masking requirements, while still maintaining the service online for those not vaccinated or comfortable yet to return.
What my church has done during the pandemic has been governed by consultation with a medical advisory team made up of physicians and medical professionals, application of CDC guidelines and best practices, and prayer. I believe it has been a Spirit-empowered approach. Here’s what I mean.
I ask this question seriously and not rhetorically.
Maybe it’s the pandemic. Actually, I am sure it’s the pandemic. But the pandemic is merely the context not the cause. I’m talking about what I’m hearing my Christian friends say, what they text me, and what they post on Facebook, specifically about wearing masks.
You see, I live in Texas, and our governor, one birthed from my noble profession, a former lawyer and judge, one who should know better, has lifted the mask-wearing mandate in Texas. Some of my Christian friends are thrilled because they think masks don’t mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and actually do more harm than good (“breathing too much of your own CO2, bro”). They’ve obtained these opinions from politicians, not from health care professionals, and that, to me folks, is C . . . R . . . A . . . Z . . . Y.
I mean who among us goes to the doctor because they notice blood in their urine, and when the doctor gives his diagnoses says, “Doc, no offense, but I think I will get a second opinion from my politician”?
As we brace for the battle that is sure to come as vaccination becomes available to the general population, I thought some Kingdom history might provide perspective on the issue.
Small pox epidemics had occurred approximately every 12 years in New England in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Smallpox was a merciless killer and disfigurer, particularly of children. In the early 1700s the disease missed a cycle but then appeared again in Boston in 1721. This time, however, there was a man, a learned man, a learned, Kingdom man named Cotton Mather.
Mather was a polymath. He was the youngest student ever accepted at Harvard (11 1/2 years old). He published over 350 titles during his lifetime on subjects as diverse as the Bible, history, medicine, politics, and the demonic. He could write in seven languages. Mather was also the first American to be inducted as a Fellow of the the Royal Society in London, the most famous scientific society in the world. Mather set up schools for Indians and African Americans. He was also a Puritan and minister of the largest church in New England.
And while history is no stranger to plagues and pandemics, we have not seen a pandemic like this in America or the world in general in over one-hundred years.
In a previous post, “Will This Be the Church’s Covid-19 Legacy?,” I asked whether the Church would be remembered for being a super-spreader of the virus. It’s a fair question.
But maybe the better question is, “What should the Church’s Covid-19 legacy be?” As one committed to continuing to see the advance of the kingdom of God on earth, I want the Church’s legacy in this pandemic to be a positive one, as it has been in other plagues, such as the Plague of Cyprian and the Black Plague, where the Church actually gained credibility and Jesus-followers as a result of its response to pestilence.
So, here is a best case scenario of how the Church could be remembered 50, 100, 200 years from now if it can pivot in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Should churches be holding worship services in the midst of the pandemic?
I don’t think it’s a hard question.
But it has apparently become difficult to answer.
My goal here is to hopefully bring some clarity to the issue and clear away some of what obfuscates providing an answer.
Let me start by saying if you believe the pandemic is not real but the result of a conspiracy between Anthony Fauci and Trump-hating Democrats, or that the 98,000 American deaths from COVID-19 are grossly exaggerated because of a secret agreement to miscode them, or that COVID-19 is no more deadly or contagious than the flu, you need not read any further. Continue reading “Church Services During The Pandemic?”