by Matt Slick
The church's responsibilities during the time of the coronavirus are the same as when the coronavirus was not here. The duty and responsibility of the church (the pastors, elders, deacons, etc.) have not changed because of a pandemic. But, the means of delivering the same responsibilities has. Let's take a look at some of the responsibilities of the average church.
The Christian church (as a structured organization) is to equip the body of Christ for the work of service (Eph. 4:11-12). It is supposed to make disciples (Luke 9:23; Matt. 28:19), as well as evangelize (Matt. 28:20), and instruct the people of God in proper doctrine (1 Tim. 4:6; Titus 1:9). It is supposed to encourage the people of God to pray (Matt. 6:9-13; Eph. 6:18; 2 Thess. 3:1, etc.), and of course, teach them to serve one another (Gal. 5:13; Col. 3:24). The Christian church is to help the members of the congregation in their worship of God (John 4:23; 17:1) as well as providing the Lord's supper (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23–26) and baptism (Acts 2:41; 8:12).
No Church meetings during coronavirus
Because of the high risk of infection from the coronavirus, many countries around the world, including the United States, are practicing social distancing and self-quarantine. Because of this, we cannot gather in church buildings; otherwise, we might spread infection. See Is isolation from disease biblical? to learn that isolation during a time of disease is very biblical.
- Leviticus 13:4 “But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and the hair on it has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate him who has the infection for seven days. 5 “The priest shall look at him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the infection has not changed and the infection has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him for seven more days.
- Numbers 5:2, "Command the sons of Israel that they send away from the camp every leper and everyone having a discharge and everyone who is unclean because of a dead person."
- Numbers 12:15, "So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days [to to leprosy], and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again."
So we can see the biblical principle of isolation due to disease and infection. In fact, the Black Death began 1346 and swept through Europe. It killed millions. When biblical quarantine and cleaning practices were adopted, the plague stopped.
- "Fortunately, the church fathers of Vienna finally took the biblical injunctions to heart and commanded that those infected with the plague must be placed outside the city in special medical quarantine compounds. Caregivers fed them until they either died or survived the disease. Those who died in homes or streets were quickly removed and buried outside the city. These biblical sanitation measures quickly brought the dreaded epidemic under control. Other cities and countries rapidly followed the medical practices of Vienna until the deadly spread of the black death was halted." (Jeffrey, Grant R.; The Signature of God, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO, 2010, pp. 145-146).
What can the Christians do during the coronavirus?
There are still a lot of things that we can do as Christians during the time of isolation and quarantine. We can pray for one another. We can use technology to keep in contact via phones, video chat, Facebook, Twitter, etc. As far as church services go, we can watch them online. Being stuck at home is a good time to read the Bible, or go on the Internet and watch Christian videos, or read CARM and learn.
The church has not stopped because of the pandemic. Pastors and elders can still teach online and, under the right conditions, visit people who might be lonely, sick, or in need of medicine and food. Of course, we still need to take precautions when doing this, but it's all workable. I think phone calls are very helpful, and that personal touch can lift a person's spirits.
So, the responsibility of the church during the coronavirus pandemic is the same as it was before. The church is to minister to the people of God and whatever reasonable way it can. We are blessed to have technology, and we can participate in church services in the privacy of her own homes by watching them online. We can email each other and call each other. We can do so much to uplift one another. The Christian church, the formal church structure and its clergy, along with the members of the body of Christ, are still in the same position and responsibility as before the pandemic. And, one final comment. Don't forget to praise God during this difficulty. He never promises us an easy life. But he does tell us he will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).