When COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, people thought that the virus would naturally disappear like the SARS outbreak in 2003. In addition, when the coronavirus pandemic was spreading in the world and we saw some positive cases in parts of China, we thought we were already safe enough after we were almost all vaccinated.
But this virus just keeps surprising us. COVID-19 didn’t disappear quickly as we wished, but has become slimmer. Through constant gene variations, it may keep bothering us for another couple of years or longer.
If that’s the case, in-person church services and meetings would not be temporarily paused. It would be a long time before we can gather in the church, in order to control the fast spread of the virus. The influence would be huge in several aspects.
First, the meeting mode of the believers would be changed. The church would not be called church if we can’t even gather together, because meeting face-to-face in the church is the basic attribute of a church. Other modes like meeting through the Internet could be an emergency measure, but never a satisfactory replacement.
Second, all visits would be forced to stop. Generally, a normal church includes “big services” and “small meetings”. The “big services” refer to Sunday Worship, while the “small meetings” include all kinds of informal gatherings, like weekday meetings, group gatherings, visitation, etc. This virus makes all face-to-face meetings impossible.
Third, the church’s income will be drastically reduced. Some people may wonder when most of the churches stop functioning, and most of the church ministries stop working, why does the church still need income? Besides, how could believers donate money when they could not even come to the church? (Some believers donate through the Internet, but they’re few in number, and fewer could insist for long.)
The influence of the decrease in tithes and offerings to the church is obvious: daily maintenance and charges (like water and electricity) would be a problem, let alone the construction of some church buildings. In addition, the church staff have a harder life. Their salaries are barely enough for daily expenses. If we cut some of their salaries, basic necessities would be luxurious for them.
For some churches with undertakings (like some churches which are building their churches, or supporting nursing homes, and theological training centers), the influence would be devastating.
Of course, even though we’re facing some major difficulties, we shall never give in and never be pessimistic, for our God is omnipresent, and he would help us with all these. God is always blessing us in some ways. He always makes us feel that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)
(This article is written by a guest/freelance writer as well as a pastor in Jiangsu province and originally published by Gospel Times.)
- Translated by Nicolas Cao