These are unprecedented days, certainly in the USA but also across our world. Responses to the COVID crisis range from fear and paranoia to conspiracy theories and anger. We sympathize with the individuals and families who have suffered with this virus, either in sickness or in death. We hate the constant reminder that we live in a sin-cursed earth, and we long even more for Jesus to return and make all things right.
The mission of our church is not primarily political nor is it medical, yet at the same time we are compelled to have a position and a response to a medical issue that is incredibly politicized. We intend to worship God as both conscience and the Bible dictates, which includes practices the church has been doing since its inception like corporate singing, public prayer and preaching, and relational fellowship.
Our insistence on our continued in-person worship is founded on a love for our God and a love for others, the two great commandments Jesus teaches his followers. Our love for God drives us to remain meeting in person, using the forms of worship he’s commanded for us to do. At the same time, our love for others means we happily support every person’s individual choice about gathering or not gathering, in wearing masks or not wearing masks, in remaining socially distant or fellowshipping closely.
There is a threat to our souls greater than the threat to our bodies. Prolonged postponement of in-person worship, fellowship, and preaching inevitably leads to spiritual decline. It is impossible for Christians to be just as healthy away from the church as they are with her. We judge that a lack of spiritual health is a more significant threat to people’s well-being than the potential of physical sickness.
Further, there is a greater authority in God than in our government. God’s word clearly commands us to not neglect meeting together, and in fact that we should care more and more about meeting as the day of Jesus’ return comes closer (Heb. 10:25). A Christian’s ability to love and do good works, as well as to hold tightly to his or her faith, is tied directly to being with other Christians (Heb. 10:23-24). Even the meaning of the word “church” is connected to the idea of gathering or meeting. Online services cannot even come close to fulfilling Christ’s intentions for his church. The cumulative effect of ongoing government restrictions on social interaction is not only an attack on the church’s religious freedom but, more importantly, eventually force Christian people to decide between following God’s authority or man’s.
Finally, there is a greater good in Christians gathering than in not gathering. God gives us a host of relational commands that are for our best good. His commands to sing to one another, pray with one another, bear each other’s burdens, and a host of other relational commands can never be faithfully obeyed in a virtual world. God intends his people to be personally, physically together. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational blessings come along with the corporate worship of the church.
While we respect the wisdom decisions of every other gospel-believing church and support the responsible decisions of every individual person, Christ Community Church intends to love God and love others in our ongoing in-person worship as long as the Lord allows.