10 Questions to Consider before Regathering

The possibility of churches gathering again soon has raised several important questions, including: What date should we regather? How do we greet folks from a social distance? How do we take the offering? How will we accommodate our entire church family when we must deal with spacing? Here, though, are some more questions I think we need to ask:

  1. Am I praying regularly for my church’s pastoral staff? We always need prayer support, but we’re particularly needing wisdom as we think about next steps.
  2. Will I follow the leadership of our church staff even if I’m not sure I agree with their guidance in regathering? I’m not arguing that every staff will get everything right, but I will argue that most of them have given much more thought to the best next steps than most of us have. In my estimation, we owe them our support.
  3. Am I okay with our church now meeting in multiple services and/or multiple venues at least for the near future? For many churches, these are going to be primary options for congregating while maintaining social distancing.
  4. Am I emotionally and spiritually prepared for changes that must take place for now? For example, will you avoid shaking hands with friends you’ve not seen for months? Will it seem strange to not have the “meet and greet” time your church has always had? Will you grieve not seeing everyone if your church moves to multiple services? How will you respond if your church no longer has a choir?
  5. Will I be tempted to find any reason to continue worshiping online only? There are legitimate reasons for folks more vulnerable to COVID-19 to stay at home for now. My fear is that other folks will use the current situation as an excuse to avoid gathering with God’s people again.
  6. Will I wear a mask – or, look down on others who do? Each of us must make his or her own decision on this choice. Surely, we’ll be supportive of each other’s choices. 
  7. Am I returning to corporate worship as a more committed or less committed follower of Christ? None of us will regather as the same people we were prior to this crisis. Over the past few months, all of us have taken steps either closer to God or farther from Him. What direction have you gone?
  8. What ongoing sin do I need to deal with prior to gathering with God’s people again? Don’t miss the opportunity to gather again with a fully obedient heart. Worship may well be more potent if you have no unforsaken sin in your life–no matter how much the actual worship service might change. 
  9. Has the time apart helped me let go of bitterness or anger toward another believer? I pray we’ll gather again with hearts bent toward forgiveness and reconciliation as needed.
  10. Am I praying for God’s grace for someone to find a cure or develop a vaccine for the coronavirus? My wife has reminded me that we’re reading a lot about how churches are responding to this crisis, but we’re hearing little about this kind of prayer. As usual, she’s right . . . .

Say a prayer for all the churches in your community as they prepare to navigate the next several months.

4 Comments

  • Robin G. Jordan says:

    Here is a number of questions that church leaders may be needing to ask themselves as they reconsider reopening their church. I have been following the growing body of research on how COVID-19 spreads. Among the findings are that COVID-19 particle density levels and therefore the risk of infection is higher in mechanically ventilated spaces like church sanctuaries and worship centers than it is in naturally ventilated spaces such as outdoors. Mechanical ventilation circulates the particles around the room but does not disperse them. Church leaders need to be asking how are they going make sure that space used for in-person gathering is well ventilated so that any air-borne COVID-19 particles disperse rather than accumulate during and between multiple gatherings. People who are singing or speaking loudly are “super-emitters.” They not only produce more air-borne droplets that may carry the virus but these droplets also travel farther. Church leaders need to be asking what steps are we going to take to ensure that the people on the platform–musicians, vocalists, preachers, emcees, etc.–are virus free. How are we going to protect the congregation from individuals on the platform who may have the virus but are asymptomatic or are not yet experiencing symptoms. These individuals are highly infectious even though they may be asymptomatic or are not yet experiencing symptoms. Do we erect plastic screens between the people on the platform and the congregation like those used to protect store clerks from infected customers or to muffle the sound of the drums? Do we require the people on the platform to wear face masks when they are not behind these screens? How do we decontaminate the spaces enclosed by these screens between gatherings? Do we require the same people to serve at each gathering on a particular Sunday or occasion? The more we are learning about COVID-19 and how it spreads, the more complicated it is becoming to reopen our churches. We certainly do not want our churches to become the nexus of a new cluster of COVID-19 cases and deaths in our respective communities? If we don’t get right the first time, we may cause unnecessary human suffering and damage our churches’ witness to our communities.

  • mark says:

    Please pray #10. However, don’t be a hypocrite. You are praying for people who are likely not Christians and even if they were Christians, you probably would not want them or me in your church. They might make good followers of Jesus if evangelical churches taught him and were willing to get rid of their reputation of being anti-science. Some are atheists because they want more evidence that Christianity can offer or because of how it was taught to them. Others are Buddhist because the teachings can be translated to daily life. (Jesus did the same thing but evangelicals struggle to teach it.) The vaccine designers and scientists are some of the most educated people in the world. They ask questions about everything and get into ethical dilemmas that most clergy don’t want to tackle. I happen to have a PhD in the hard sciences and these folks were my colleagues and friends.

  • Ken says:

    Mark, maybe you should read Matthew 7:1-5, especially verse 5.

    • GW Nola says:

      I think Mark is speaking from a factual, experiential background. He’s not judging but stating the likelihood that the ones in the scientific community working on the vaccine are probably hostile to the scripture. It’s an opinion but one no doubt based upon those who rubs shoulders with.

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