How can Christians and churches respond to the Coronavirus?
It’s crazy how quickly our world can be flipped upside down.
Aside from sports and entertainment, so many of our country’s systems and organizations are shutting down as the country grapples with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Schools are closing for weeks. College students are being displaced from their dorms. Churches are being asked not to meet or hold limited attendance. Small businesses will be significantly impacted.
We are really just in the beginning stages of what this virus could possibly do to this country as it relates to health, business, and everyday life. We don’t really know yet just how significant of an impact this could have on people individually and our country collectively.
What I do know is that this is a time that Christians and churches need to be ready to respond in whatever way they can.
I got a chance to interview author Barnabas Piper for the In No Hurry Podcast, and we talked about this. Barnabas serves as the Director of Community for Immanuel Nashville, and as his church and community are still dealing with caring for their community in the wake of the Nashville tornadoes, they now have a different challenge in responding to this virus.
It’s important that we don’t respond with panic, but instead turn to God and trust his sovereignty in all of this.
“As church leadership, we’re responsible for the well-being of our people as much as it’s up to us,” he said. “So what steps can we take to be conscientious of those who are afraid and to limit things to limit the spread of this? It’s been helpful to hear reasonable medical heads talk about it where they’re like, ‘most of you who are reading this are not at risk, but you are at risk of being a carrier who could then get it to somebody who’s at risk.’
“So the reason we recommend quarantining or social distancing…is because that will limit the spread to the vulnerable, so our medical facilities don’t get overwhelmed. All of that makes total sense to me, and I think that sounds like treating others the way you would like to be treated. Same with washing your hands, same with whatever. That all makes sense.”
Several churches throughout Kentucky and even the country have now moved to streaming only services with only essential staff at the church building. It’s clear now that any church capable of offering streaming services needs to move to that option and avoid large gatherings.
Barnabas said his church leadership read an article about how persecuted churches in China continue worshiping even after being shut down.
“This is not persecution, but the net effect if we have to go into homes is similar,” he said.
He said his church is trying to figure out a reasonable way to care for people and not just do what they think makes the most sense.
“There’s an element of acquiescing, even if we think it’s kind of silly,” he said. “But there’s also a, ‘this is a great unknown.’ We don’t know — like, I’ve never lived through a pandemic of any kind, and neither has anybody else my age. So what does it mean to live through a pandemic?”
Jason Romano, who has been on my podcast before, posted a wise suggestion for small businesses or other places of commerce who might be negatively impacted by this virus and the subsequent shut down.
If you have any money to donate to organizations or even businesses who will be impacted by this, consider doing so. Maybe you’ve got a friend who works a day job and won’t be able to be paid if they can’t go into work. Consider supporting their side hustle you’ve been ignoring.
What I know is it’s time to come together as people and look out for one another. People will be looking at how Christians and churches respond, and we need to take that responsibility seriously. We have to be wise and safe, but at the same time we need to love on people and support those in need.
And above all, we need to trust that God will provide through it all.
“It is one of those times — and it can sound fatalistic — but it’s profoundly true,” Piper said, “when you say, ‘thank God He’s sovereign, because I don’t understand any of this.'”
Watch the full video with Barnabas Piper below, and click here to listen to the full episode.