Once The Coronavirus Bans Are Lifted?

If this has already been discussed, please just delete this.

There has been lots of ink spent online talking about the church and government.

What I’m wanting to discuss here is how you’re thinking about shepherding your people once these bans are lifted and every church is back to meeting in person together.

Doubtlessly there will be still people concerned about the coronavirus and many who will be absent from the pews the first weeks/months of services. They will be concerned about still getting the virus and potentially sharing it with an older family member. Some will be absent out of love for others and some out of fear. Many a mixture of both. Many Christians will judge their brothers and sisters. “I can’t believe they’re still wearing a mask.” “I can’t believe they still won’t come to church.” “I can’t believe they would put their kids in children’s ministry” “I can’t believe they’re hugging” “I can’t believe they still won’t come to small group, it’s only 10 people.” And on and on…this alone will take great work to help the flock bear with one another in love.

I’m also imagining a situation with a member who lives with their elderly father. They don’t want to give their father the virus. By this time, new cases are dying down but the virus is still out there. They decide they won’t come to church out of protection for their father. Surely any good pastor/elder is going to sympathize with his flock hundreds of times over the coming months regarding these situations. But what could be even trickier and what I’m not clear about in any form is what it would be like to help someone in the situation I’ve described in this paragraph.

There is a level of risk in just about everything. You drive to church and risk getting into a car accident and dying. But we don’t say it’s ok to forsake the assembly because you could die on the way to church. Another level up…you may contract the flu at church and could give that to a family member, but should you forsake the assembly during the flu season? Admittedly, the seriousness of the coronavirus is much higher than these examples…but you can see where my question is going…

I don’t know the science, but what if it’s mid 2021 and the virus hasn’t died out and the person in my example still feels they can’t come to church? What if it’s 2022? What if someone still feels there’s a risk to get it because new cases are still popping up even though they’re low? I have great sympathy for my brothers and sisters who are wrestling with this in various ways. I believe that pastors/elders are going to have a lot of work helping the church in:

  1. Figuring how to not devour each other in judgments
  2. Figuring how to help those in similar situations as I exampled above

I have no clear thoughts yet. One person may answer that there’s freedom for someone to not come until there are 0 new cases worldwide for 2 weeks even if that’s 3 years from now…I’m sure many would disagree with that…

I hope you won’t spend too much time pointing out any flaws I missed in my examples (unless it helps make your point)…All I’m asking here is how you’re thinking about helping your church 1) not devour each other in judgments and 2) how you’re thinking about loving and caring for those who are more concerned about this than the average person and who feel they can’t come to church for a long time?


Your questions are excellent and show, I think, the necessity for a prior and longtime pastoral care track record on the part of the elders and pastors. If a congregation enters this crisis with a history of the session providing administrative and financial leadership only, it will be hard for them to switch over to guidance concerning Coronavirus. But maybe it’s a good place to realize one’s past failures and begin to care for the sheep? Then this ill wind would blow somebody some good.

As for your particular questions, my response would be case by case pastoral counsel from elders and pastor given personally, hopefully upon request. That combined with constant exhortations and warnings not to judge others whose decisions differ.

I’m not sure it’s helpful to make any comparison with car accidents since the stats would render those insignificant compared to Coronavirus and this might cause those listening to be dismissive of what’s said next. Nevertheless, it is a good point to make that life is dangerous, and that living together in love brings risks we joyfully accept because of that love.

One final thing: to the degree that it can be done without seeming intrusive, the elders should give guidance to the congregation rather than defaulting to each man doing that which is right in his own eyes.


I think you’re going to see more whole families staying home if anybody in the house has an undiagnosed fever, and that makes sense.

As for people attempting to keep from getting sick, people already do various things depending on the circumstances. Sometimes they are scheduled for an important surgery that cannot happen if they are the slightest bit ill and they self-quarantine for a time before the surgery. Other times they have a loved one at high risk for a time, and they will keep him at home while taking extra precautions themselves to avoid catching something at church, or they will bring the loved one and take extra precautions, etc.

Some people need to be exhorted to be more careful, while others need to be exhorted to be less fearful.

Now we have a new danger to plug into that calculus equation. Some people will be more frightened than normal, and others will be more forceful than normal in rejecting any precautions, depending on which side of the info-wars they fall on in this. Thus, there will likely need to be more exhortations away from the two extremes, and some simple guidelines provided so the leaders shoulder some of the burden for our people. And that’s just another way of saying…


I have already seen articles about face masks being the new normal when you go out in public - even when COVID-19 has passed. The thought horrifies me.


I saw an article that claimed that Dr. Fauci said nobody should ever shake hands again. Of course, the media was lying. (I can’t get over how often it’s a lie!) He said that returning to normal would be gradual and the implication was that we shouldn’t go straight back to handshakes.


Handshakes arose as a way to ensure that the men you were meeting were not palming a shiv or a sap in their presumed weapon hand. The risk of this in my life is infinitesimal and anyone I consider at high enough risk to be palming a weapon isn’t going to be getting close enough to me for a handshake or grasping my own weapon hand.

It seems like the risk of hidden weapons is far, far smaller in modern life than the risk of hidden pathogens.

All that to say, the handshake has been on its way out in America for decades, and it would not at all surprise me if Bat Flu put the final nail in its coffin.


I’ve never heard this. I wonder where the holy kiss arose from? Perhaps checking to see if they were harboring ill words against you in their cheek? :wink:

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One thing I know is that singing with the saints will be very sweet whenever we get back together.


Kisses are far more intimate than handshakes. You would only kiss someone you intimately trust, as opposed to the strangers whom you keep at literal arm’s length with a handshake.

That’s why betrayal with a kiss is so vicious.