Should Churches Just Stay Closed… Indefinitely? Three Ways To Buck Big Government Shutdowns

Written by Wes Walker on April 30, 2020

Sure, we all ‘did our part’ to ‘flatten the curve’. But we’ve decimated our lives in the process. Now what?

What, exactly, was supposed to happen before we could all go back to living our lives? Were we supposed to give hospitals time to ramp up capacity? We’ve done that. If anything, our fear has led to spinoff effects like untreated heart and stroke victims dying unnecessarily, and possible cancers spreading simply because biopsies haven’t been taken.

Hospitals, even some as prestigious as the Mayo clinic, are laying off doctors because they’re running out of cash. What do you think is happing to the smaller places?

We’ve learned a great deal about this particular viral threat. Most of us will survive it, but there is a specific profile of people who (when exposed) have a high chance of developing dangerous or even lethal secondary complications. We’ve learned about how it is transmitted, and how to limit that transmission. We have learned about early warning symptoms to look for (fever, for instance) to screen people not yet aware that they are infected.

We’ve learned that it is far more transmissible in enclosed spaces like subways and elevators than it is in outdoor environments.

So what should believers do in cases where the State doesn’t think you have a right to decide as a free person whether corporate worship is one of life’s manageable risks? Where states like California list religious gatherings as something that won’t happen until the THIRD of four stages in resuming normalcy.

Does the State even get to MAKE that call? SHOULD they?

Bill Barr has put them on notice.

And Gov. Newsome is being sued by the Center for American Liberty over $1000 fines given to a pastor who was fined $1000 for holding a Palm Sunday service.

Fighting in Court for Constitutional is one option. And where are the ‘separation of Church and State’ zealots when they could finally be useful? Oh that’s right. They just want to censor people of faith. Why would we expect any integrity or intellectual honesty in that crowd?

Daniel in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament give another option. In a conflict between the authority of God and the authority of Men, you obey God knowing you will pay a cost at the hands of men who collide with Divine Authority.

Sometimes, such collisions are inevitable.

How does moving ahead with or without state ‘permission’ work?

One simple if aggressively in-your-face way would be absolute defiance of the Government Mandate, holding to the First Amendment. A pastor or priest could notify his congregation that they need to consider their own health and risk profile, but any and all that are able can attend, starting on day ‘x’. They could still offer online services for those whose risk profiles would make staying away the better choice.

Depending on the church culture, and attitude toward risk, you could let anyone who wants to show up attend as one normally would or you could have some kind of a system applying the social distancing recommendations and take temperatures at the door.

There’s another way. One that even the Chicken Littles of the world would have trouble objecting to… one that folks looking for excuses to scapegoat the Church would have more difficulty weaponizing against us.

Outdoor services.

Jesus did a lot of his preaching in the 1st Century equivalent of your local park or beach. Just an open area where people could gather. Why couldn’t we do something simliar?

A lot would depend on the size of your church, and setting. But what would stop churches — especially ones of more manageable sizes — to hold an outdoor meeting in a park or, say, a large parking lot sitting otherwise unused on a Sunday?

You could set up chairs and even have them appropriately distanced. You could measure out distances with colored chalk on the parking lot for proper spacing of chairs. Porta-potties could be set up with someone hitting all relevant surfaces with Lysol between uses. Masks could be provided for those needing any.

And you could STILL gather in groups and assemble together and worship the Author of Life.

For bonus points, you could look at something completely different from the government’s ham-handed regulatory expectations altogether. Pulling from what the Apostles were doing in Acts 2, and what underground churches do around the world even today, you don’t have to meet in a central loaction if you have small group gatherings, or ‘cell groups’, or home groups. Whatever name your context calls a group of Christians gathering in a home for worship and the study of God’s word.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

…And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

We’re not *really* planning to hide from a virus until some as-yet-unnamed threshold of medical salvation rides into town and tells us we can go back to living again, are we?

Let’s remember the admonition of Proverbs 28:1, shall we?

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion.

Yes, the world is continuing to cower in fear from this nebulous threat… but should we?