The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to impact almost all segments of society—and churches are not immune. As the weekend approached, many places of worship in the United States grappled with the decision to remain open or close their doors.
While few determined the risk to be low enough to gather as usual, many churches urged congregants to stay home and attend Sunday service via livestreamed video links or Facebook Live.
And with the Centers for Disease Control recommending that all gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed for the next eight weeks, it seems technology will play a larger role in church communities for the foreseeable future.
“Over the past few days, we have seen a growing number of public gatherings and events canceled and have heard from public officials who have recommended churches suspend weekly worship services,” Ronnie Floyd, the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee president, told Baptist Press. “We encourage pastors and church leaders to seek wisdom from God in prayer, assess the status of this new virus in their local community, and consider their membership context when deciding whether or not to hold weekly worship services.”
Although many church buildings may not be open to the public, that is not the end of worshiping simultaneously. The Bible often refers to the church as followers of Christ, not a dwelling place, and church worship has taken on a new look amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (NKJV).
“The church remains the church whether gathered or scattered. It might also indirectly remind us of the gift of gathering that we too often take for granted,” Dr. Esau McCaulley, an assistant professor at Wheaton College, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.
Worried about coronavirus? If your heart is searching for peace and you’d like someone to pray with you, trained staff members at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association would be honored to take your call now at 1-888-388–2683. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Above: A sign stands outside a church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, to advise parishioners that services were canceled on Sunday, March 15, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: AP Photo/David Zalubowski