Should Coronavirus Stop Us from Going to Church?
By now you’ve heard of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and, depending on what you’re reading or listening to, you may be struggling with questions about how best to protect yourself and your family.
If you or someone in your life is immunocompromised or elderly or very young, the risks are higher, which makes things even more intense. Situations like these leave us wondering: Is the virus spread through the exchange of money? Or boxes from Amazon? Or the guy next to you on the bus? The person next to you just sneezed, should you stay calm and pray or spray yourself with Lysol? Do you need a mask?
If you walk in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He will surely guide.
So, Do We Go to Church During Coronavirus or Not?
Everyone is responding differently and there are a number of unanswered questions, but here’s one thing you are assured of when you build your life on Jesus Christ: You are not alone, even in the rough waters of this life, the Lord promised to be with you (Isaiah 43:2) “even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
Of course, you want to do everything you can to stay healthy. Some areas have shut down schools and public meeting spaces, and President Trump has restricted travel to areas that have high infection rates.
But what about church? Should the coronavirus stop us from going to church? The answer is not “one size fits all” because everyone has different circumstances, but here are some important things to think about when you’re considering your decision:
The Perspective of Team Go-to-Church (in the Midst of Pandemic)
As Christians, there is always the faith component at work. We live differently than the world does. We have a firm foundation in Christ. We are used to operating in a world that is filled with trials, fraught with dangers, threats, and rejections.
We live a life of seeing things that aren’t seen and believing things that are not yet manifest. In fact, the tragedies that sin have wrought in this world are nothing new, and we’ve all read the accounts in the Bible about standing in faith amid trials. (Eph. 6:13)
Have you ever read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28? Difficult times are part of life.
When you’re at church, you have your faith tribe with you, agreeing in prayer, taking authority over the enemy and over the fallen things in this world. There’s a supernatural power in the “two or three” gathering together!
On the upside of ‘going to church together,’ we enjoy worship, exhortation, testimonies, encouragement, and, one of the most powerful aspects of prayer: The laying on of hands. (James 5:13-15)
If you’re struggling with fears surrounding coronavirus, it helps to lean on the strong faith of another Christian. If you’re grappling with thoughts about friends and family members, or biological warfare, or the government agendas, vaccine concerns and all the rest, fellow church-goers will pray with you, speak the Word, and remind you of the promises of God.
When You Go to Church During Widespread Calamity, Stay in the Know
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us firmly hold the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful [and] Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
The point? The worse it gets, the more we need each other.
If you decide to go to church (and you don’t have any symptoms yourself) be safe and smart. If you want to wear a mask, go ahead, although doctors say it’s not really necessary, because the virus spreads more often from transfer contact between hands and surfaces.
Consider sitting a little more spread out from others. Don’t shake hands or hug for a few weeks. And don’t expect that your church has sanitized everything, because chances are, they have not. You are your own best protection so avoid touching things, wash your hands frequently, sanitize them frequently in between and bring latex gloves for extra protection if you feel safer.
It sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through to get to church, doesn’t it?
But think about this: The enemy will use any tool to keep you isolated from one of your greatest sources of strength—other Christians. And if being afraid to go to church keeps you home, it’s a win for the enemy. He’d love nothing more than to you keep you oppressed and living under fear and, certainly, all the unknowns about the coronavirus are striking fear in the hearts of many.
Are there risks and dangers if you continue going to church during the coronavirus scare? Yes. Are there risks and dangers every day in your life that come at you, which Lord has kept you safe from, risks you’ll never even know about? Yes.
The Perspective of Team Stay-Home-From-Church During a Pandemic
A wise man (my Dad) once said: “never use faith when you should use wisdom." It's a powerful reminder that you have been given the right tools to make the right decisions. Some are pure faith, others will be made from the wisdom God has instilled in you through His Holy Spirit.
Going out in “faith” may not be the answer if staying home in wisdom is the more appropriate decision. God has given you the ability to discern!
In Luke 4, Peter’s mother-in-law had fallen very ill with a fever, back in the days when there wasn’t any ibuprofen to help her out and she did not attend any church gatherings. In fact, Luke, a physician, noted that she was at home.
In Acts 28:8 when Paul had shipwrecked on the island of Malta he visited the home of a sick man: “It happened that the father of Publius lay at home sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, placing his hands on him, prayed and healed him.” In John 11, Lazarus fell deathly ill and stayed in his home.
Psalm 41:3 says, “The Lord will sustain them on the sickbed; You will restore all his lying down in his illness.”
The point is this: If you’re sick, stay home in bed. But, while your body may be weak, your spirit can be strengthened through listening to the Word of God via an audiobook and through sermons about faith and healing and God’s faithfulness.
And your soul can be refreshed and uplifted by tuning in to your own church online.
Options to Experience Church at Home, but Not Alone
There are plenty of options to squeeze in some preaching and teaching if you decide to stay home from church. Plenty of people use those options liberally (even when coronavirus isn’t an issue). And while watching church online is all right, it really should be seen as more of a spiritual stop-gap until you can get back to church.
There are numerous reasons why the Word of God impresses upon Christians the necessity of meeting together. So unless you have a communicable illness, an emergency, a physical handicap, or are taking care of the poor/widow/orphan, it’s very wise and fulfilling to get to church.
If you’re home because you don’t want to get sick, then build others up by posting encouraging Scriptures on your social media. Exhort. Write out a prayer and share it. Send texts. Share your church’s broadcast with others. Post a favorite worship song. Go live and share some thoughts with your friends and family. Speak faith. Share a testimony.
If you’re at home because you are sick, ask for help and ask for people to pray with you. James wrote that “the effective, fervent prayer of the righteous produces powerful results.” (James 5:16)
When You Stay Home from Church, Go in Faith
Praise God for this modern age in which there are so many ways to stay connected in the faith when we need it. Praise God for the miracle of modern science and discoveries, all of which are inspired by God to be uncovered at the right time!
God can use any method, vehicle, or means He sees fit to address our every need. The coronavirus pandemic did not catch Him off guard. If you’re wondering what to pray for while you’re staying home from church, come against the spirit of fear, in Jesus’ name!
The opposite of fear isn’t faith—it’s love, “and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love,” and there is no fear in love. (1 John 4:16-18)
So, naturally, the enemy wants to keep people trapped in fear and panic about coronavirus, and everything else, so they cannot rest in the peace and knowledge of the love of God.
Luke 4:39 says that when Peter’s mother-in-law fell ill, Jesus “rebuked the fever, and it left.” Even the forces of nature and the causes of fever exist under the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. And you have been given that authority, so walk in it! (Luke 10:19)
If you’re staying home from church, for any reason, you can still pray. S.D. Gordon said that “Prayer strikes the winning blow.” So, pray, in His name, for the healing of those who are ill. Pray for the protection of those who are not ill. Pray for the knowledge of those addressing the pandemic and for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to uncover the answers to all of the questions. (John 16:13)
What the World Needs Now
A fascinating phenomenon known as “intrinsic religiosity” that has been studied, pertaining to global pandemics, is the observation that people of faith don’t run away amid these tribulations when others flee. Findings have shown that those with faith in the Lord tend to operate in that faith. Why? Because we have an assurance that when we die, we will be with the Lord.
We move with compassion among the sick and dying, following the example of Jesus Christ. We have faith for miracles. We believe God wants to heal. We understand there is an enemy we have authority over. We have a perspective of life that exists beyond the natural realm.
One of the most important lessons that pandemics, epidemics, plagues, and the like can teach us is this: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9)
These problems have affected mankind since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden. But in this world of trials, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The world needs Jesus and you know Him! Whether you feel led of the Lord to go to church or not during this upheaval, be led of the Lord—that is the point. You can get sick from anything and anyone and anywhere—or not!
Draw near to Him, seek His wisdom and guidance, stay in prayer, make decisions from a place of peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Regardless of coronavirus, move forward in your life in faith.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This previously-written article has become a resource for many as we face growing fear and anxiety due to the Coronavirus pandemic. God is ALWAYS our source of protection, strength and peace during unknown times. In addition, the following articles may offer more encouragement for all to remember as we face the trials of COVID-19 together:
Do Not Fear! 10 Verses about Fear & Anxiety to Remind Us That God is in Control
Prayers for Peace Amidst Pandemic Fear
Powerful Prayers for Coronavirus - Those Sick and Those Worried
What “No Harm Shall Overcome You” in Psalm 91:10 Means for the Coronavirus
"Be Still and Know That I Am God": Meaning & Promise of Psalm 46:10
Alicia Purdy is a worship leader and a full-time writer with an M.A. in Journalism. She is the host of “Living Out Loud,” a weekly radio show broadcast at the ALIVE Radio Network. You can learn more about Alicia’s books including, “The Way of the Worshipper,” catch up on “Living Out Loud” episodes and subscribe to free devotionals at her blog: TheWayoftheWorshipper.com. Alicia is also a human with an ongoing education in all things life-related! Her passion is to write about real life and a real faith in a real Jesus to inspire, encourage and entertain people from all walks of life. Alicia and her husband have 5 kids ranging from 20 years old all the way down to 4, and 1 cat named Chester. You can find and follow Alicia on Facebook and Instagram. She welcomes questions and discussion. You can reach out via email at The Way of the Worshipper. If you meet her in person, she will most likely try and wipe you down with essential oils and then ask if you want to grab a coffee.