With the rise in safety measures across the nation, and across the world, on how to protect ourselves against the Coronavirus, many churches have closed their doors, some for an indefinite time period.
Although many churches are live streaming services, using Facebook Live, Periscope, Skype, conference calls and other ingenious ways of worship many Christians are not currently able to attend the church they call home, and we don’t know how long is a long enough period of social distancing until we can return. My church is not meeting together, in our church facility, for worship service, or Bible Study for the foreseeable future. This doesn't mean that we don't meet for worship and Bible Study and we do meet.
The Bible compels us to assemble ourselves regularly. I have written a number of posts encouraging believers to find, attend, and participate in a local church (See Church).
Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
But these are different times. The experts and our leaders have told us that because there are no known effective therapies, cure, or vaccines for the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the most effective way to slow it's spread is by social distancing. In many places that means no gatherings of any size, including church.
So how do we manage to be the church and attend church if we're stuck at home and can't go to church? How can we still be the church when we’re apart?
Not all solutions are perfect, but we can still find ways to be the church and care for those in our congregation, even if we don’t go to a physical building on Sundays as we wait for the threat of the virus to dissipate.
When we look at the word church, we have two terms: a local church and the Universal Church. The first one refers to a church building we regularly attend. But the Universal Church stands for all Christians, throughout all periods of time, who call the Lord Jesus Christ their Savior, who worship him, and who have devoted their lives to his calling.
We may not be able to access our local churches at this time, but we are still part of a greater Universal church that spans all borders, ages, orthodox denominations, time periods, and languages.
We Can Watch Sermons Online, if Possible
Not all churches have video-recorded sermons or are planning to live stream sermons for the next few weeks, but many do. We can make sure to hear from the word from a pastor every Sunday, even if it happens to be on a TV screen, a smartphone, a tablet, or a conference call, in our family room.
If our pastors don’t happen to stream their videos, ask them if they have any recorded sermons. I have several sermons available on YouTube. Many church websites have previously recorded sermons and even complete worship services.
No matter what the case, we can be the church by hearing a message from a pastor every week.
Romans 10:14 NIV How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
We Can Still Continue to Give
Many churches could suffer financial crises during this time. With people’s uncertainty of the future of their jobs or having to cut back on costs, church offerings are often the first expense to go.
One way we can be the church, especially to our local church, is to continue to give. Many churches have a place online where you can send a donation. If not, mail a check to the church.
We can also give in other ways. We can ask our pastors and leaders of our churches how we can pray for them, as they face uncertainty as well. And we can give resources to members of our congregations who may need food and other things like toiletries..
As store clear out of shelves, many church members may be worried if they’ll have enough food to eat or have stocked up all the necessities. Reach out to members of your congregation and offer to be a helping hand wherever they need.
We Can Continue to Pray for One Another
Nothing can brighten someone’s day more than if they hear you’ve been praying for them. Ask members of your church how you can lift them up in prayer, engage and talk with them daily. With social media and phones, we have the ability to call and reach out to anyone at our church.
Why Does This Matter?
Although we’ve entered a confusing time as a nation and as a world, we can still continue to trust in the Lord’s guidance, his peace, and his providence.
In the meantime, we still have the ability to be the church for our local and Universal churches by continuing to give, love, and serve one another. Even if we don’t have a building to go to, we have an all-powerful and all-loving God. He will still provide ways for us to care for our church family.