Reopening Churches

Responsible leadership will approach the risks and rewards of reopening the church with genuine concern…not with COVID-19 “Whatabout-isms” — “What about Walmart, what about Target, what about the parks, what about the beaches — if they can open, why can’t the church be open.”
 
First and foremost, the often used “whatabout-isms” rely on a false equivalent and highly, lethally, flawed logic. We need to “Rightly” divide the truth…we know full and well that the beach, the park, Walmart and Target are not an apples to apples comparisons to a church. Church is not a spaced or distanced environment, church is a close quarter environment — shoulder to shoulder…and what makes it even worse, the average church has no intentions of creating or implementing COVID-19 safety protocols — unlike those that are in place at most other responsible indoor facilities that church “whatabout-ism” compares itself to.
 
It cannot be stressed enough…it is false, reckless and dangerous to compare the church to Walmart, beaches and parks. Walmart, grocery stores, beaches, restaurants, parks and Target are not congregations or assemblies — they’re not required to sit shoulder to shoulder in those places for up to 4 hours, in often poorly ventilated space — all church buildings are not created equal when it comes to ventilation. The relevant and related comparisons to the church are movie theaters, gyms, public schools, sports arenas and all other facilities that by there very nature have zero distancing, no safety protocols in place and every reason to suspect that when you put people and the corona virus in close, unprotected quarters, there is a high risk of infection, if not an explosive outbreak. 
 
The church Jesus is coming back for us not closed — the building we assemble in for corporate fellowship for 2 hours out of 168 hours in a week — on a day that we designated, is closed. God was not talking to parks, beaches, Walmart and Target when He said, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-4).
 
Now, “Be anxious for nothing,” is an understatement. What we should find alarming and be curious about is this…why are Christians willing to assemble without even the slightest hint of a safety plan or uniform health/safety protocols in place? It can’t be about the church — because the church is the believer, and has never been and never will be closed. It can’t be about a relationship with God because we didn’t have a relationship with God if our “worship” was for 2 hours on Sunday — instead of, “in spirit and in truth.” It can’t be because we think God dwells in buildings, because God said He does not dwell in buildings made by human hands (Acts 7:48-51, 17:23-25). All of this anxiety is coming from somewhere but it’s not coming from God or motivated by biblical faith…Believe that if you don’t believe nothing else.
 
Your asthma sufferers, folks with respiratory illnesses, folks with compromised immune systems, folks with heart conditions, folks who are pregnant, folks who have had or are awaiting an organ transplant, etc, need your guidance, not your anxiety and guilt trips. Church can’t just tell its people to come back to the church building, church has to tell its people what it will do and what it will require members and visitors to do in order to be as safe as possible. Congregating, whether in a gym or a church, a basketball game or a theater, is uncharted territory and will come with increased risk. Now is the time for leaders in the body to set aside foolish pride, recognize that all church buildings are not created equal and head the wisdom — “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
 
What church leaders should do instead of being anxious, angry and irresponsible…is hold regional and global virtual church summits in front of reopening to discuss, define and document universally recommended health and safety protocols for church buildings that want to reopen responsibly and not haphazardly. The highest risk environments should not be the least concerned about the common sense dangers that arise out of congregating. God is not a God of confusion.
 
It’s not simply about reopening the church, it’s about being genuinely concerned about the health and safety of the flock and in particular, the at risk, the elderly and the vulnerable members and visitors. It is irresponsible for the church to indiscriminately tell people that church assembly — sitting shoulder to shoulder for up to 4 hours, is “like” going to Walmart or taking a stroll in the park. We will and we must return to fellowship but we must also accept the reality that using safety protocols is not an enemy to reopening the church. 
 
Either the truth will bring churches together for responsible solutions or we will see many assemblies destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Time will tell.
 

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