As a pastor I’ve been included in a “Pastors Only” group on Facebook for pastors to privately discuss things amongst themselves. It’s been an eye-opening group to be in for a few years. There are logistic questions that pastors ask one another for help with, a decent amount of complaining about church parishioners, theological debate and of course some soap-box political opinions.
But like most things in the world right now, the group has lately been dominated with discussion on the topic of the current Covid-19 Pandemic.
And the things I’ve seen predominantly said have been alarming.
As late as this week I’ve seen lots of very irresponsible discussion from pastors refusing to give up in-person gatherings; sometimes suggesting churches openly defy state orders not to gathering in groups over 10, or “accidentally” miscount (read: lying about) how many people are gathered (Hey we only have 9 people here … wink), and discussion on preachers traveling from house-to-house into older people’s homes to preach sermons.
As a leader of a faith community myself, I know first-hand what a bummer it is not to see everyone in-person. We’ve been ONLINE only for two weeks now and it feels weird. Doing things online isn’t the same. It’s missing a lot. You can’t really replicate relationship on a livestream.
But the church will be just fine through a few weeks of online gathering. It won’t be the same, but we can do it. And just so we all know, Jesus won’t be mad at us if we skip the in-person “churching” for a few weeks.
In fact, perhaps the way we can best honor God and love each other and our local communities currently is to not be physically around each other for a while.
Spiritual communities and their leaders have a moral responsibility during this time to listen to the health experts and local authorities and help keep people safe by following their direction.
If your particular leader encourages you to something otherwise, as a pastor, I give you permission to ignore them and stay home and stay healthy.
Participate with a church community ONLINE for now. We can keep spreading the gospel without spreading a deadly virus.