How The Coronavirus Is Killing Churches Too

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The recent quarantine for the coronavirus caused many people to shelter-in-place but it’s also closed many churches, and some churches may never open again.

Hurting Churches

The Coronavirus has caused many businesses to close their doors and millions of people are hunkering down in their homes with a shelter-in-place recommendation from the state or health authorities. As a result, many of these smaller businesses will close permanently, but so will thousands of churches. What was hoped to be only a temporarily closure due to the coronavirus, has caused thousands of churches to close forever. Why?Early Church vs. Todays Church

Perhaps the greatest reason that so many churches in America and around the world may die is because the church cannot gather together and that’s where and how the church normally receive their tithes or offerings. The members of the church does not typically give offerings to the church if the members cannot attend the church, and this recent quarantine for our society and for churches, has dried up what little reserves these churches had in the first place. Only a little more than half of believers actually give to support the church and it’s ministries, and now, the smaller churches are failing because they had no reserves to fall back on…reserves that could have kept their doors open. Perhaps God is “weeding out” some of the weaker churches because they are more Laodicean (or lukewarm. See Rev 3:14-22), or perhaps this is to test the resolve of the local body of Christ. Others believe that God is removing some of the tares that’ve been allowed to grow alongside the wheat (true converts) in the church (Matt 13:24-30).  Personally, I just don’t know why God has allowed this.  He hasn’t confided in me.  I do know this: He is sovereign over all things. Churches will survine as many have moved to online services, but the church still has to pay utilities, insurance, and other costs to keep the building operating so that once the church can gather together again, there’ll be a building big enough to accommodate them.

Assembling Together

The church is not brick and mortar, or steel and concrete. The church is made up of individual members who collectively assemble as the Body of Christ. The author of Hebrews tells us that corporate worship will become more and more important as the day of Jesus’ return nears, so we must think about “how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25). It’s really hard to “stir up one another” in “love and good works” if we don’t see one another, and it’s especially difficult if we’re neglecting the assembling of ourselves, however, if we’re kept apart for a time, no matter what the reason is, we’re still connected by God’s Spirit, so we isolate today so that when we come back together, nobody will be missing. That’s what it means to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). To fulfill the royal law is to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). You do realize that we’re not in this alone as “we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25a). When one suffers, the other members suffer with them; when the member rejoices, so do the others. It’s almost as if, one is cut, the other one bleeds. That’s the unity that is brought about only by God the Holy Spirit.

Staying Connected

This is a great opportunity to show your faithfulness by staying connected to the church members. Since the Body of Christ cannot come together, many are doing it online or in chat rooms, and some by live Internet. Whatever means you choose, keep in touch with the members of Christ’s Body…especially the members who are more isolated, more vulnerable due to age or illness, or may be living alone. Visiting the orphans and widows is pleasing to God (James 1:27), even if it’s over the phone. A bad consequence of the recent coronavirus is that the church will likely take a financial hit and many will close their doors permanently, so even though all of this will have a devastating effect on local churches, that’s no reason to distance ourselves from the members of Christ’s Body. We will get through this. Churches are like people; they are born, they live, and they die, but the point is, we are stronger together than we are individually. The analogy of the church being like a body is a great one. One person is a hand, the other a foot, the other the eye, and then there’s the ear. Together, we can make up the Body of Christ, but when members or “body parts” are missing, the Body is incomplete and cannot function as it should and as Christ commands (Matt 25:35-35; 28:18-20).

Supporting the Body

At least two pastors I spoke with this week are telling me that they may not survive the quarantine because the membership has stopped supporting the church financially, so they will have to close their doors…perhaps for good, but churches that are not able to collect their regular offerings in order to keep the church operating will not survive long if their members don’t reach out and help them. They can still send in their tithes and offerings by mail, but we must stay connected to one another in the Body of Christ during these trying times. Don’t let your church die if you can help it. Stay in touch with the other members of Jesus’ Body at this critical time. Of course, the church is not the building, but the people, so why not keep in frequent contact with the other members of Christ’s Body by email, text, U.S. Mail, Messenger, or even a phone call and check on one another. That’s what we’re called to do.Prayers for the Offering

Conclusion

Believers can still support their church by sending in their tithes or offerings, and we are told to be faithful in little and God will entrust us with much (Luke 16:10), but if there’s never been a time in your life where God has brought you to repentance, and you have never trusted in Jesus Christ, you will be sent to a place where there is no escape and it is total isolation…it will be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:42), so if you’ve never trusted in Christ, do it today…right now in fact, while it is still called today…a day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2).

Here is some related reading for you: How to Worship God When You Can’t go to Church

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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