Today, we interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to talk about what everyone is talking about; the coronavirus.
The coronavirus, as you probably know by now, is a highly infectious disease which attacks the respiratory system, and which there is currently no vaccine for.
The outbreak of the disease started in China last year, but has quickly made its way around the world and into our backyards. As of this past Friday, there are cases in 42 out of the 50 states.
So, how should our churches respond to this?
Well, if you would have asked me at the beginning of last week, I would have said this seems like an overreaction, make sure to remind everyone to wash their hands, not come to church if they’re sick, and continue on as normal.
However, my opinion was quickly changed at the end of last week when all the major sports organizations suspended or cancelled games completely, causing them to lose out on millions and millions of dollars.
At that point, I realized that this has to be way more serious than I’ve previously thought. Organizations like the NCAA, the NBA, and the NHL aren’t going to lose out on all that money unless the risk of someone getting sick at one of their events outweighs the reward. What those organizations realized was that if someone got the coronavirus at one of their events and ended up dying it would be a PR nightmare for them that would cost them way more than the money they were going to make.
So, back to our original question, how should churches respond to this?
Should we cancel services?
Some of us may not even have the option to have services to begin with. Many state governments are already shutting down gatherings over a certain number. I think we’re going to see this trend continue as the virus spreads.
And then some state governments are going to recommend we suspend large gatherings like church services, but leave it up to us to choose whether we continue to meet in person.
This option puts us in a difficult situation. Do you continue to meet and risk someone getting the virus, or do you stop meeting and risk making people upset because you’re not holding services?
One advantage that many of us have is the ability to take our services online. By using Facebook Live or something similar, we can still worship together even if we’re not all in the same room.
But is that really necessary? Are we still overreacting? Are we living in fear?
I don’t believe so, and here’s why. Even though you and I may only have a few people in our state that even have the coronavirus, the number is growing. Just remember a month ago, there were less than 25 confirmed cases in the United States. Now, there are over 1,200 cases.
If the virus continues to spread at a similar rate, there will be over 50,000 cases a month from now.
And yes, for the majority of people who get the coronavirus they end up recovering.
But, for older people and those who have compromised immune systems, they have a much harder time getting over this virus and some die from it.
Do you really want to take that chance in your church? Is meeting together so important, that you would risk someone’s life for it? Especially, when you could still get your message out through other means.
For me, it’s definitely not. If our state government recommends suspending large gatherings like church services, we’ll follow their recommendation.
Not because we’re living in fear, but because we’re trying to love people, and loving people means caring about their health.