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:
- Figuring how to not devour each other in judgments
- 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?