Churches are currently working on decisions related to resuming large group gatherings like worship services. Most Christians miss these experiences and long for them to be re-established. There are pressing reasons to delay re-opening as well as pressures to re-open soon. So, when should your church re-open?
The answer: When your church leaders, as clearly as they can discern God’s leadership, determine it best serves God’s mission expressed through the mission of your church to re-open. Not before – no matter the pressure from others to fit their perspective or agenda.
Some churches, even in the same community, will make different decisions about both the place and methods for re-opening. We need to support church leaders who are making hard choices, not criticize others for making different choices than we do. While believers gathering is important, some of the reasons motivating rapid re-opening are concerning.
First, some leaders want to restart worship gatherings to improve offerings. This is the worst motive possible. There are many other ways for people to give. Resuming public gatherings in an attempt to raise money reveals greedy motives and misplaced priorities more than a passion for worship or fellowship.
Second, some leaders want to restart worship services so they will have a live audience for their preaching or singing. Again, this reveals more about equating worship leadership with putting on a show than it does about the need for people to gather. Be careful your ego is not the reason for restarting large group events.
Third, and related to the previous reason, is some leaders want large groups to gather so they can see people and draw fulfillment from ministering to them. It is meaningful to be present with people and serve them, but not to meet our needs. Whatever reasons we have for restarting worship gatherings must be focused on the needs of participants, not those of the leaders.
Finally, some leaders are restarting large group gatherings in protest of governmental restrictions on church gatherings. While some of the groups/businesses/organizations that have been allowed to open (in contrast to churches) is maddening, it does not equal religious persecution. When all large group events are banned in a community, unfortunately, churches are caught in the same net.
Christians want to be together. We have a biblical mandate to gather regularly. We have interpersonal needs best met by fellowship with others. We enjoy the inspiration and motivation of large group worship experiences. While all of this is true, leaders must be wise and disciplined in making re-opening decisions. Foremost in our minds must be the needs of our followers and constituents – not just a few of them, but all of them.
Make God’s leadership and the mission/needs of your ministry community your priority as you decide the best timing and methods for your re-opening plans.