As I See It
AS I SEE IT
by Keith Tucci | Apostolic Team Leader
On Thursday, April 25, I had a Zoom call with our covenant pastors to discuss moving forward. On the call, an ADF attorney gave us some insight as to how the government views this situation.
Terms like “compelling state interest” must be balanced by the doctrine of “least restrictive means.” I, for one, do not think the government as a whole has given much consideration or common sense to many of their orders. The doctrine of “least restrictive means” has not been adequately or reasonably applied to the church. Airplanes are allowed to be filled to capacity where people sit closer together and have less space than in church. In most cases, they spend more time on the flight than they would in church. In the case of air travel, it cannot be deemed essential as there are other means of transportation that are available. Yet, the airlines are allowed to pack people in while we are being “encouraged” to keep people out. Liquor stores being qualified as essential, while home building is shut down, just doesn’t fly. One pastor joked he had a friend who owned a liquor store and they were going to move their services there!
Here’s the bottom line: I believe we have to begin to move forward. Waiting on the government to give us the “all systems go” and to micromanage our mission is yielding not only our mission, but even the spirit of our mission as new laws and indiscriminate applications are coming out of the state capitols daily.
It has also become apparent that the incremental strategy of “two more weeks” is going to continue for months in many places. Were they to say months in the first place, there would have been a revolt. Not to be cynical, but it’s also fair to say that most officials at this point are more concerned about political damage or blame than the virus itself. Because of that, churches are going to be last on the list to get the “all clear” signal.
It’s obvious at this point that common sense or application of new health concern standards is not going to rule the day in the decision-making process. Other operations and businesses are being trusted to make decisions on how they will honor social distancing. We as church leaders have not been shown the same trust. As leaders, we must now lead. Leadership is work, not edicts. It’s time for us to move ahead, not out of defiance, but out of compliance to God’s purpose for His church.
To do this, first and foremost, each leadership team must be on the same page as to how they view the threat assessment and how they can best apply safe practices. That may take some work. We are going to have to spend money and time cleaning between services, using different rooms in the building, having more services to accommodate smaller groups, and maybe having satellite locations with small congregations.
We need to get creative!The larger the church, the more work! The government’s job is not to make it easy for us, and they haven’t. I do not believe it is our job to wait for them to teach us “how” to apply and institute new health standards. My overarching concern is not just the present, but if we choose to wait for people whose focus is not the Church, will we have voided our leadership?
I think we can move forward honoring the spirit of health considerations without being defiant or inconsiderate of those who may not be on the same page as us.It is important that we apply 2 Corinthians 8:21 in all we do: For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
As such, I would not flaunt what we are doing. I would simply do it. The application or “enforcement” of these inconsistent new “laws” will vary by community. For that reason, we need to be smart in what we do, which will give us a reasonable defense, if it comes to that.
In most cases, it is going to take months to rebuild our congregational gatherings. There are people that have legitimate risk factors that are going to stay away. There are people that are fearful that are going to stay away. There are people who are not sure if it is right to gather that are going to stay away. There are people who have simply gotten out of the habit of going to church that are going to stay away. I believe anticipating a flocking back to a grand opening mentality is not what we are going to experience. This is another reason to get creative and start building momentum. We must give people who choose to an opportunity to gather while employing safe practices and measures that others are being trusted to do.
It’s time to go forward.