Please Don’t Kill Me with Your Church

May 26, 2020

Disclaimer: I’m old and vulnerable to the virus.

Having said that let me remind you that how and when you open your church to the “new normal” has potentially deadly ramifications for people inside and outside your congregation.

Your lungs, and mine, host billions of bacteria and occasionally thousands of virus cells. Social distance and normal breathing pose no threat. Speak without a mask and the number of cells you emit multiplies by ten. Yell, or sing and that figure multipies by 50.

Unless you do church right, you could end up killing people like me.

Sure, I’m staying home for the duration, but I still interact with people. As does everyone in your fellowship. And those people interact with still more which is why I’m writing this.

We know that crowded spaces and people ignoring masks or social distance will spread the disease. The spread is exponential. It works this way… The average carrier, with or without symptoms, infects 3 people (as opposed to the flu where the number infected by each carrier is just 1.3 persons—besides which I can get a flu shot). The rate of 1 person infecting 3 grows exponentially. Ten generations away from the origin, 59,000 people get infected. This is why the numbers keep climbing even while many remained in their homes under lockdown.

Pity the poor folks working hard at Home Depot, McDonalds or the supermarket as much as those in hospitals. All are in danger. But back to church…

Five Problems Staring You in the Face when You Reopen

Churches have five problems, each which can be mitigated but you need to handle with care. One friend told me he’s disinfecting microphones between services. Another said she’s wearing a mask to work in her church nursery. Still another will offer disinfectant wipes at the door. But is any of that enough?

We face these issues: 1. A church is a concentrated gathering of people—social distanced seating is fine, but what about constricting areas like the exits and bathrooms. 2. Church people naturally shake hands, hug or otherwise touch each other when greeting. 3. We like to sing which works against us in two ways. We’re projecting (50x the breathing rate) and breathing deeply to prepare for the next line of the song. 4. We talk to each other face-to-face. All of these are factors to consider whenever you open your doors. 5. Social distancing and masks are next to impossible in your nursery and with small children.

Multiple weekend services with more space between folks is a great start but certainly not enough.

Don’t Let It be You

Were I still a pastor, I’d closely watch the outfall of restaurant re-openings across the country before making any move. Temperature scanners, disinfectants, plastic-wrapped utensils and face masks on staff are great. But, what about friends sitting two feet across from each other talking and laughing? Aren’t they a threat the restaurant isn’t set up to handle?

I’m adding two links to help you think this through. The first is an article and short video about a steak house in Brooklyn. They’ve done a lot right, including plexiglass screens between tables, but I wonder if plexiglass on the table might be an added benefit. You watch and draw your own conclusions. The second takes you to a blog by a scientist, named Erin Bromage, who really understands what is safe (far more than you think) and what is unsafe (kind of scary) and what we can do to be safer and protect our people.

Last week I read of a Catholic priest, in Texas, who held Easter services without knowing he had the virus. He’s since died but of the 180 people in attendance, six caught the virus (at the time the article was written). Now multiply that 50 times and you have a problem. I’d not want to lead a church where people got sick, a couple of our elders died and the newspaper identified us as a center for an outbreak—let alone any lawsuits. These things will happen to some churches somewhere. Just don’t let them happen to you!

Remember sharing articles is caring if you think they’ll help someone. And, adding comments brings more insight to the discussion (plus being a “thank-you” to me for doing this). Seriously, if you value this site please support it with your words and forwards—they even help me raise funds to keep it going.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

45 thoughts on “Please Don’t Kill Me with Your Church”

  1. James Nakamine

    Ralph &Ruby,

    Thanks for your article and it will be helpful to me too as being in the “old man” Category like you. LOL
    Be Safe and lets get through this together.

  2. Marianne Allan

    Hi Pastor Ralph, here is my example for another reason for Christians for judging their brothers and sister. My sister’s church opened yesterday and was more than excited to go back to church. She is 73. I told her to be careful about sitting far apart and how singing is dangerous. Also, that Christians love to hug. At that point she told me to STOP! It’s like she is using this as a badge of honor for her Christianity. Of course she is better because she is not going to stop going. She loves Jesus. I told her I was worried about her. Told me to just STOP!

  3. Wisconsin Aloha Ralph 🤠 Since you are so bold to claim your age status, I am also one of the old guys (74). In fact I AM the oldest at Crimson Way Church in Elm Grove WI. CrimsonWay.org 🙏 I’m used to home arrest so no big deal 😣. Summer has arrived here, now in the low 80s 🏄 Stay healthy, Ralph & Ruby ! Mike 🌈 26May2020, Tue

  4. Letty Andrenacci

    Thanks for your words of caution. Where are the two links you mentioned? I’d like to read the article about Brooklyn restaurant and the blog by Erin Bromage.

  5. Craig Englert

    I love what you are doing Ralph. You have incredible experience and wisdom to pass on to all of us pastors. I know this is nothing new for you but your life, ministry, and advice has impacted thousands of pastors and missionaries worldwide including me. Thank you so much for taking the time to touch on very timely issues.

    1. Thanks Craig,
      Your words mean a lot. Want to invite you to share on the podcast in the near future. Realized I’ve invited so many people outside of the Hope Chapel family as most are new to what we’ve known and shared for so long. About time some of our people got to tell their story. Tell Toni, I’ll be asking her too!
      Ralph

  6. Excellent article. Lots to think about.
    You mentioned adding a couple of links, but I couldn’t find them.
    Please forgive me if it’s just my bad eyesight.

    1. Ron,
      I re-checked the links from here. They do work. If you still have problems please let me know through the “contact” tab at the top of the page.

  7. Pingback: When Should Churches Reopen? - Allen White's Blog

  8. Thanks for being a voice of reason and compassion. There is a lot of pressure to get back to church as a Sunday morning event. It seems like church leaders have an amazing opportunity right now to rethink our conventional assumptions about what the church is and what the church does. Let’s not waste it!
    P.S. I won’t kill you with my church.

    1. Thanks Aaron,
      California just mandated crowds of no more than 100 people which is great for our church of just over 200. We’ll now need to go to two services and enjoy better fellowship – it will be more like the joy we experienced when we started 18 months ago.

  9. David Sanderson

    Hi Ralph,
    Somehow I started receiving your blogs in my InBox – don’t know how they did.

    Anyway, while I agree with you that us oldies, and everyone else, needs to take precautions to reduce our chances of catching viruses/bacterias in the ‘outside’ world, I believe we still have such a thing a ‘Faith’ – Faith in a God that will protect us from harm when we are doing His will.

    Now, as I see it, going to church is God’s will.
    God says for us…
    ‘Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.’

    I believe there is a reason God doesn’t want us to neglect meeting together… whenever we meet corporately, there is a unified blessing. Our faith is built even stronger as we meet and share corporately, our prayers are all the more potent – this can’t be achieved effectively, over Zoom, YouTube, or whatever.

    Yes, I know we are to ‘obey the rules/laws of the land’… as long as they don’t prevent us doing God’s will. Eventually, the law will be that we won’t be able to meet together, full stop, for those that believe in Jesus Christ, in His redeeming grace, that Jesus is Lord of all – soon, we will not be able to shop unless we bear a mark (whatever it may be). Will we obey the law then?

    Yes, I know we are to not ‘test’ God… but God says that ‘all the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection’.

    Also, ‘greater is He who is in us (the Spirit of God) than he that is in the world’.

    If we truly believe God (not just believe in Him), if our faith is of God, if we are at the centre of God’s will, then we can do all things, we can ‘drink poison and it will not harm us’, we can meet together and we will not be harmed.

    It is time that we, born-again believers, stand on God’s word – we either believe it – or not!

    1. Are you saying that we must gather in a building in order to actually be the church? Is joining electronically neglecting to meet together? I’ve gained some wonderful new friendships, linked people who didn’t know each other when we were still in the building and seen members giving money, etc to each other via Zoom meetings. All of which would qualify as stimulating one another to love and good deeds. I don’t quite see your point about standing on God’s word when we know of several churches which have taken that very stand only to have people die after contracting the virus in their services.

      1. Adrienne Sentell

        Amen, Pastor Ralph. I have made so many new Jesus loving friends on Zoom. And some of us even text each other now. God is good AND He is so creative to provide Zoom, etc. for us.

        1. Adrienne Sentell

          Aloha again, Pastor Ralph. I enjoyed reading your article and agree with your sentiments. I am a microbiologist and would like to point out that the lungs do not normally have bacteria, as they are supposed to be sterile. It’s when we get infected with bacteria, which are a different entity from viruses, that we then have bacteria in our lungs. Blessings and Aloha from Hawaii.

        2. So good to hear from someone who seems to agressively pursue opportunity rather than just react to this very negative situation. I look at this as a John 15 pruning moment. Pruning produces a better harvest. BTW, that’s what happened after the pandemic of 1918. The economy jumped in the “roaring 20s.” More importantly that’s when the pentecostal movement accelerated from small gatherings to larger networks and denominations. Jesus still sits on the throne…

  10. This could be irresponsible to Christian freedom.
    1Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.

      1. 2 Tim. 1:7 God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control.
        No, Joining electronically isn’t neglecting to join together. So, let’s just do away with church going and we can meet online. Maybe we can make some new friends.

    1. George Wingate

      Pastor Moore thank you for your wisdom and vision on this topic. I have read and agree with you but won’t say I disagree. The fear that has been spread about this virus is irrational. It has captivated the world like no other illness has. That being said the numbers show it has killed percentage wise 4 percent of the Americans it has infected. ( deaths of covad are being exaggerated ) When the government can use the law to force isolation and business shut downs we are teetering a very fine line of how the AntiChrist will captivate and control this world. Of the 2 million cases in the US 96 % of those infected survive and recover. If we do not “socialize” herd immunity will not occur….96% survival rate is and was unheard of with the Spanish flu of 1918. Its time to get back to church and let God’s Glory prove this to be the Hoax it is and have a continued revival of his word. Satan is the prince of these earthy airwaves….we are living on borrowed zoom time. It will be controlled just like Facebook is now controlling content.

      1. Thanks George, I understand everything you say. However, as a 74 year old man, I prefer that others would consider my life valuable and be willing to protect me…

  11. Sean Appleton

    Thank you Ralph. We are opening this weekend with caution and a bunch of guidelines. First time I’ve ever suggested some folks not come to our building! I believe we will be in a season of a hybrid type of ministry. In house services, livestreaming, and small groups meeting regularly (in person and virtual) are all valid and useful. I love your pastor-heart for people!

    1. Thanks Sean,
      I think most churches will be what you called “hybrid” for a very long time, if not from now on.
      We’ve learned that you can have close fellowship via electronic means. Also that video services don’t need a lot of hardware
      There is a definite new norm and some people surveyed are saying they now prefer church from their living room, not to mention the ability to bless shut-ins.

  12. Thank you for sharing this very important message.

    I believe “selflessness “ and perseverance are challenged immensely
    to everyone. As I am an one of healthcare walkers, knowing our COVID cases has been decreasing daily in our hospital, I am totally agreed and appreciate your informative message. I sent your article to more people, and we discussed in our zoom small group meeting, and received feedback; “I didn’t think about that, this is right!”

    Thank you for speaking truthfully and educate us to raise more awareness to His people.

    1. Thanks Michi,
      Good to hear from you. For some of us protection against the virus is a lot like protecting a cancer patient with chemo-weakened immune system.
      Some are saying that this is a lack of faith, but I wonder if their “faith” would let them ride a skateboard on a freeway…

  13. This is one of comment from our group,
    There are so many variables. I think its more prudent for us to wait a bit to start gathering.
    I know that some say to trust God, but the bible says not to test God.
    If only 50 or 100 are allowed in…who are they and how does that effect those left out?
    Parking lot?
    I’m not crazy about sitting in a hot car on warm days listening to the message on the radio, when I can sit on my couch and watch on tv.
    And in the parking lot we are still being advised to stay in the car.
    I love hugs as much as anyone, but for now go hug your wife, kids, mother. We all have someone who needs a hug as well as we do. 😁
    Oh. And then those who don’t think this is real…are you sure?
    I’m not sure I am.

    1. My husband just made comment after he read the quote from our friend, ending “ those who don’t think…., I am not sure I am “ confuse you is this Michi’ comment or someone else. Yes, it was from our friend saying he doesn’t know what is really he should believe….

      But! It was a front page news article to support your opinion with assumptions
      Increased positive cases after churches services opened in Oregon most recently!
      Perseverance, people!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

On Key

Related Posts

Isolated On a Pastoral Pedestal

Loneliness in leadership is never fun. It’s also less than necessary when it comes to living on a pedestal.   Pastors are often surrounded by

Evangelism: We can do better…

A recent trip to Orlando found me in my favorite restaurant—the one with the golden arches. While stuffing my face with a Sausage McMuffin, I