The Church and Covid-19

The recent pandemic has raised questions over the nature of the church. All over the world governments asked churches to close and many have taken to streaming church, essentially replicating the church service but having online versions of it. There have been some bold statements like, Church will never be the same again, if things like the hug and the handshake have to go, so do various forms of worship like sharing a communion cup, or too much singing because of how much of our germs we are pushing out into the air around us. Some have relished the total shut down and seen it as an opportunity to clean the slate and start fresh without 2000 years of tradition getting in the way. Some are suggesting we just carry on online doing online baptisms, giving, communion, preaching and singing. Depending on the view of what is church some have been very dissatisfied with the fact that we could not meet, others have not mourned the change and see no problem with the shut downs.

How has your understanding of the church come through this time? If you have a strong ecclesiology you will come through it unscathed, if you don’t have a clear view of the church the pandemic can happily reshape everything you ever thought about church. My goal in this sermon is simple, I would like to remind us Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, Matt. 16:18; and that God’s plan to fulfil the great commission through the local church has not changed. I am very aware of how everything has been subjected to review and many will be in a state of administrative fatigue as they have had to cope with the constantly changing landscape of alert levels as they have the weight of life and death issues thrust upon them. I am aware of the new atmosphere of scrutiny we all live under as we are expected judge each other to see if we are performing the rules well enough. I am aware of the weight of the impossible task of keeping germs under control; and the threat of criminal culpability for not coughing into your elbow. I have good news for you, God is in control and when He created the church He did it with the whole of history in view anticipating every pandemic and change. It is the same problem of sin and a sinful world and the cure of the gospel and the role of the church are still the God ordained solutions. We will be exploring the nature of the church under four headings, the church defined as gathered; the church blessed when gathered; the church pictured as gathered; the church’s witness as gathered.