Greet one another with a passionate punch? What Church buildings Do in Response to Corona Virus The Alternate

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On March 6, I tweeted, “If you are a pastor or church leader, what do you say / do about Corona virus this weekend during the service? Did you send emails? How do you encourage your community? Etc."

Over 100 people answered. Most gave general, prudent, pastoral wisdom. Some provided links to local or national health sites. However, some believe that this is some level of ado about nothing. Some of the more interesting responses came from the areas closest to the outbreaks or from overseas. I have given representative examples from different categories here:

At first I heard about several pastors and leaders who were closest to the eruption areas like Seattle.

Many churches have canceled public services and opted for online instead:

@ salt_house425 said: “We are located a few miles from the epicenter of the outbreak in Kirkland, WA. We make a live stream of our services (sermons) on FB every week. We canceled public meetings and only went online. Decision fatigue sets in. "

Tyson Supasatit is a lay pastor in Washington. He said, “Here in Bellevue, WA, our eldest has just decided to cancel personal services and let everyone watch the livestream. I preach on Sunday (instead of our traveling Sr. Pastor) and would be happy to receive your prayers. "

A pastor's wife from Seattle gave helpful advice: "I think it depends on where you live. We are in downtown Seattle and we have a lot of older people in our church. My husband decided to cancel services as well many in our region. "

However, a pastor and his young church met last Sunday. He wrote a letter to his community, warning him not to be ruled by fear. He stressed the importance of the community and thus its continued business services, but emphasized: "We don't want to be stupid either." He added a link to the county health guidelines and the start of a live stream of their services. He encouraged the church to be "inventive" in its response.

Pastor Andrew Fouche and his church also held services: "We are in the middle of it, just outside of Seattle, trying to be wise but not yielding to fear." I still worship together this Sunday. “He also wrote a letter encouraging the sick to stay at home and found a thorough cleaning of the church that there were disinfectants available for participants as well as live streaming for those who stay at home. He warned: "Times like this reveal character and beliefs."

Many pastors encouraged them to be wise and not afraid and gave advice on how to respond.

A number, as mentioned above, cited practical plans such as thorough cleaning, no passing on of the sacrificial plates, provision of a hand disinfectant and punches instead of handshakes or hugs. @RevStephenBudd of Kanata Baptist in Ottawa, Ontario wrote, "We are asking people to welcome you with a wave in a different non-physical way." Apparently @thetimber saw an opportunity here when he replied, "Non-contact Church? Man, if you advertise, you will attract a wave of introverts!

In several cases, the pastors found that they were changing the way of communion. Pastor Brian Ingalls wrote: “We take communion weekly. Packets of bread will be provided this Sunday so people can keep it with them and avoid a tray together. Do not put used cups back in the tray. "

Matthew McNelly @nellfire is in eastern Washington and wrote, "For communion, we go to individual cups and a pre-cut bread instead of our normal practice of instinctively sharing a cup and a loaf." If you didn't know it, Intinction dipped the bread in the wine before eating it.

Some pastors from outside the country also replied.

According to Habegger Evelyne, at least one church in Switzerland has canceled its services.

Hunter Farrell shared a letter from Pastor Steve Yamaguchi (formerly Fuller Seminary) to his church in Tokyo. He gave an overview of hygienic changes and encouraged "bumps in the elbows" as a greeting. He reported on meetings with medical professionals. They plan to continue with the main services, but have canceled some side events.

Hong Kong's Albert Ng repeated a topic that a number of respondents said – his church is determined to "turn the crisis into a service."

Another example of using the increased concern about the corona virus as an opportunity to servecame from Pastor @DJJenkins from Studio City in Los Angeles. His church published an article from @erlc.

He also used the crisis as a teaching element with eight points over three tweets: “1) Followers of Jesus need not be afraid. Our eternity is forever safe. 2) Our calling is to love our neighbors, sick or healthy. 3) Beware of xenophobic tendencies in our hearts towards Asian communities / friends. Teach children about harmful / racist jokes. 4) If you feel sick, please stay at home. We have a livestream for such an occasion. 5) Let us know so we can pray and / or send elders for you. 6) We will continue to gather regularly every Sunday unless there are exceptional circumstances. 7) For the foreseeable future, we have switched the community from a community cup to individual plastic cups. 8) We prayed for God's mercy and wisdom for the leaders of the United States and the world. "

Alison Acone remarked: "We quoted our missionary from China: we do not pray for protection; we pray for being used."

And of course there were those who saw the corona virus as a different way of illuminating it.

One, @ PreacherJames3, posted a meme that reads, "We'll All Die!" Another, @stanrodda, posted a video of the Wuhan Shake enjoying alternative greetings. And you knew that this would appear: @ rexwolf74 said: "Under the threat of the corona virus, we keep it biblical … Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 1 Thessalonians 5:26."

Some argued that it was at best exaggerated and at worst an indictment of America's weak spirituality.

A selection of the suggested answers: @pastortrout offered: “Nothing. Just like I did malaria as a missionary in Africa. We went to church and worshiped God. We put our hands on feverish brows and prayed. We shook hands and hugged people who live in bitter poverty. Can we trust God for nothing in this nation? "For Pastor @JimJacobson it is as usual:" I will shake hands as I normally do. God has not given us a spirit of fear. "@ Jlbean23 replied:" He also gives wisdom. "And @pastorjl added added: "Nothing! Except, oh yeh, nothing!"

Finally, a number of health professionals turned to their expertise.

This includes @pastortritten, @ellis_craft and others. Pastor Joe Miller commented, “One of my best friends is a PhD Biosafety Officer. We'll take him to an interview tomorrow and a prayer time before the sermon. I am glad that we use this time to gain the perspective of experts and then ultimately to look at a healthy level of willingness with God. "

I want to praise all pastors and leaders who communicate well and who want to implement wise practices. I was particularly impressed by some of the letters that pastors sent to their congregations. Just a few examples are @ jonathan_dodson's letter, @ jordaneasley's letter, @ salt_house425's commitment to being a "connected community", and @ akendle's practical steps.

Overall, pastors' responses focused on spiritual encouragement, practical solutions, and reasoned responses. I was happy to see that, but the reality is that this novel virus is difficult to understand because it is so new. Each response reveals a different kind of response, and with something new, we need to take what we know and try to incorporate good practice in an unknown situation.

Last week I wrote an article on "Advice to Churches from the General Surgeon: Preparing Your Church for Corona Virus". In this article, I shared some of my own thoughts on our response, including communicating well with your church, retraining your staff and volunteers for good hygiene for everyone, and changing routines that could threaten the spread of disease.

I will tell more about it in the coming days and tomorrow we will publish an article on how we can stand up to the fear that we are facing. God is still on his throne, even though we are looking for effective and wise ways to deal with this growing pandemic.

Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, dean at Wheaton College, and publishes resources for church leadership through the Mission Group. The Exchange team helped with this article.

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