Monday, July 20, 2020

Will the Church Survive COVID-19?

“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” - Matthew 16:18

It’s been about a month and a half since thousands of churches across America re-launched in-person services. After two and a half months without Christian fellowship, you would think that Christians would have flooded back into their church buildings. But they didn’t. Instead, a large number of Christians across our nation have chosen NOT to return to church yet. As a pastor, that really concerns me.

Now, due to California’s current surge in COVID cases, the governor has issued an order to suspend indoor operations of several businesses and organizations in hard-hit counties, including all of Southern California. The order applies to salons, shopping malls, family entertainment centers … and churches. This presents another setback to churches that were just getting back on their feet. Many churches are not set up for live outdoor services. Some churches are simply too large. Since gatherings are limited to 100 people, even if only half of a congregation of 3,000 wanted to attend a live service, that church would have to offer 15 services every weekend to handle everyone.

And it leads to the question: Will Christ’s church survive COVID?

The clear-cut answer is in the first book of the New Testament. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Hades is the holding tank of the dead and it’s also the precursor to Hell. So, Jesus is basically saying, “I will build my church, and death won’t overcome it AND Hell won’t overcome it. Nothing in this life or in the life to come will stop me from building my church.” Will Christ’s church survive COVID? The answer is…Yes! Absolutely! There’s no doubt about it.

But now each of us needs to answer a harder, more personal question: Will YOUR FAITH survive COVID? Many of us who follow Christ don’t always realize how vital the church is to our spiritual health. Staying strong in our faith requires encouragement, accountability and community. Christians who become isolated from the church, because of COVID-19 or for any other reason, tend to become stagnant in their faith and drift away from Christ. Our faith rarely grows in isolation. That’s one of the main reasons Jesus started his church in the first place. For our faith to endure and grow, we need the encouragement and accountability of other Christians.

Now, I realize that some Christians can’t attend an outdoor, in-person church service right now: seniors living in a retirement community, those with health issues or mobility issues, members of large churches or of churches that are not yet equipped for outdoor services. If you’re in one of these situations, PLEASE … keep attending online—every weekend. Online church is the next best thing to going to an in-person worship service, especially if you keep it interactive. Leave a word of encouragement for other attenders online. Reach out to a prayer counselor or pastor and ask them to pray with you, online or by phone. Keep the communication going both ways.

But while some of you CAN’T attend in-person church services, many of you can. Outdoor church services are available in the Victor Valley (our outdoor service at Impact being just one of them). Many of us are scared of contracting the coronavirus or, God forbid, giving it to someone else. I get it! It’s true that the chances of contracting COVID-19 or passing it onto someone else is much lower if you are in isolation. But at some point you need to ask yourself: What are the risks to my physical and emotional and spiritual health if I don’t go to church? To you I would say this: “Please don’t allow fear to keep you away from church.” 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Every time we get out of bed in the morning, there’s a certain amount of risk. Every time we walk out the front door or get into a car or eat at Del Taco, there’s a certain amount of risk. But for years we’ve taken those risks because the benefits of going out and living for the glory of God far outweighed those risks.

The same is true during this pandemic. I can’t guarantee that you won’t contract COVID if you attend a live outdoor worship service, just as I can’t guarantee that you won’t get food poisoning if you drive through Burger King. There is a certain amount of risk involved in every choice we make as we live our lives here on earth. But my wife and I decided long ago that the benefit of prioritizing church for our family each week far outweighs the risks involved, especially since our church is following many of the CDC guidelines to lower the risk.

Bottom line: I want your faith to survive this pandemic. So, one way or another, make church a priority for you and your family every single week. If possible, be at an in-person worship service every week. That’s the best way to do church. But if that’s not possible, make online services a priority for you and your family every week. It’s critical that your faith survives COVID-19, and your kids’ faith survives COVID-19. And the best chance of that happening is by worshiping with other believers each and every week.

2,000 years before it was popular to say, “We’re all in this together,” Jesus was saying it to his church. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then it’s never just about “you and Jesus.” It’s about “us and Jesus.” We’re in this adventure of faith … together.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our live outdoor worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

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