We are living in a day where the church has been deemed non-essential at best or even worse irrelevant to the crisis we face as a society. But I want to say loud and clear, the church is ESSENTIAL. There are several reasons why I believe the church is essential.
First, the church is essential because God ordained it. God ordained three institutions in the Bible. He ordained marriage, human government, and the church. The gathering of the church is mandated by Scripture and protected by our Constitution; therefore it is essential. Many of our political leaders, I believe, desire to keep our citizens safe but are crossing constitutional lines in the fog of this war. The blurring or crossing of these lines are setting a precedent the church will pay for if we do not stand up for our rights, here and now. Pastors desire to keep our congregations safe. Safe from this COVID-19 virus but also safe from governmental overreach and all the risks that this will entail in the future. If safety is the goal, our churches can open now, following ALL the guidelines laid out in the current safety protocols for essential businesses that are currently open. I recently visited a department store and a convenient store, both of which are deemed essential. Both woefully lacked in their social distancing practices and failed on cleanliness. If they are open, we should be. The church is essential.
Secondly, the church is essential because it ministers to the spiritual needs of our community. The Scripture says in John 4:24, “God is a spirit: and they that worship must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Mankind was made to worship and throughout the Bible, this worship was done in in corporate gatherings rather than private settings. The church that gathers in unity brings a spirit of victory and faith. It brings calm to the community and unites it with hope for the future. Without the gathering of the church and direct influence the church has it struggles with reaching those who are struggling with vices of life. Rather than having a church to gather too and to be encouraged and supported, sadly, many seek for answers and so-called support in alcohol, drug abuse and other addictive outlets that only spiral our society into even more depravity and dependency. Those who are struggling need the church. The church is essential.
Thirdly, the church is essential because it provides leadership in the community. Yes, many churches are conducting services online, while others are leading drive through services. Sadly some of these churches are being harassed by leaders that believe liquor stores and pot shops are more essential than the church. The church isn’t a business. It is a ministry. The ministry is about people. People gathering and being encouraged to better spouses, parents and community leaders. Pastors and ministries are more important to a community than a print shop, dry cleaner or liquor store. They are not essential. The church is essential.
The church is not being rebellious by standing up for its Constitutional rights. Rather it is being the salt and light that it must be for this generation and the next. We are not asking for special rights, we are demanding the rights afforded by our Creator, not given or taken by the whims of a Mayor, Governor or President. Now for the most part, the churches in America are not facing real persecution. We are facing an inconvenience that is setting a precedent. A precedent that says our First Amendment rights can be set aside whenever the government declares a crisis. This is a precedent that is dangerous and can be used in circumstances far less understandable than a global health pandemic. I believe our elected leaders should acknowledge their Constitutional limits and I believe the church will respond. Some would stay online, while others will not. I believe, the church can and should open now, safely, possibly in phases, but open. Why? Because the church is essential!