The biggest question facing Christians in North America? “When do I return to public, in-person worship?”
Over the past week I spoke with leaders in at least ten churches wrestling with the decision. In states where restrictions are more stringent, some are petitioning authorities to allow churches to open sooner as they commit to put social distancing measures in place. In states that are reopening more quickly, others are prayerfully considering whether they should wait just a little longer to make sure it’s the right time.
Back to Church vs. Worship in Place
What’s guiding you if you’re a Christ follower?
- Is your first thought: “My rights come first”?
- Will you continue to take precautions and stay away from large gatherings?
- Do you think Scripture teaches that true worship is only public worship?
- Or do you hold to the “healing view” that says even if you get it, the Lord can heal you if you pray hard enough?
Over the weekend as Texas, Ohio, Florida, and other states try and safely reopen, the Lone Star State reported its highest single day rise in coronavirus cases.
Also on the weekend, it came out in northern California that a church opened for business on Mother’s Day Sunday. One person of the 180 had was asymptomatic. They went into church only to learn afterward that they were positive. The county health department had to notify everyone at the church, get them tested, and plead with them to isolate.
Now I’m not laying blame here. It’s a difficult question. Although I sure wish the person who has it had not gone to church, knowing they were at risk of infecting others.
When you’re in that position, you’ve become a part of the “Do-it-yourself worship of my own choosing” category. That’s not biblical. It’s certainly not Christian.
All the church leaders I’ve spoken with are spending many hours calling on local health experts for ways to re-open safely. One study out of Singapore has shown that singing is just as bad as coughing, dispensing droplets. The choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington, is proof the study was right. 87% of those attending and singing got it from a single person and it spread to their community. Others died.
In the Old Testament, God asked for worship in a single place. In the New Testament, things changed. Jesus told us in John that place would be no more. His followers anywhere and everywhere could worship Him with the Holy Spirit and with truth.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24
My thought? Don’t fall for “do-it-yourself worship of your own choosing.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As the leader of the Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” A former secular journalist, Charles has worked for United Press International, and as a press secretary for two former U.S. senators. He and his wife, Janet, have authored several books, including Missing Jesus. Charles’ latest book is Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus: The Real Story of God At Work.
CORRECTION: The video above and an earlier version of this article originally stated the infected church goer in Northern California received a test before attending. This was not the case.