Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged and arrested for allowing people to attend his church service while a “shelter at home” order is in effect, asking people to stay home. The Sheriff who issued the arrest warrant says the megachurch pastor had approximately 500 people in attendance at the Sunday service. After posting a $500 bond, the Sheriff released the Pastor. The River Church in Tampa Bay has facilities for live streaming yet allowed people to attend and gather in such large numbers. The world is facing a pandemic on a global scale and social distancing is one of the effective ways of controlling or reducing the rate of spread of the COVID-19 virus. Are we as the church exempt from following government issued orders in the interest of safety?
Romans 13: 1 – 2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are appointed by God.Therefore whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
Many church pastors have heeded government orders and turned to live streaming services to stay in contact with parishioners. This enables everyone to stay home yet still worship. Francis Chan now lives in Hong Kong and previously headed a large church. He believes small-group churches are what we should aim at by keeping the church gatherings intimate. (Source: Charisma News)
Stay Home and Take Responsibility
The church or the body of Christ consists of believers, joined and connected as every part effectively does its work and grows, building itself up in love (see Ephesians 4: 16). The time has come for the “couch potato” Christian to get to work. God is seeking such to worship Him in Spirit and truth. The Pastor is not responsible for your spiritual growth. Every believer is responsible for their salvation and spiritual maturity. Intimacy in prayer and reading the Bible is vital during these unsettling times.
In a statement on his website, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne stated that his church could not close its doors. And that he wanted to support people that are fearful. Many seek comfort and community. When the church building closes its doors, maybe then people will realize that they are the church and the building is a gathering place. While this global pandemic ravages on, let’s use this opportunity to call on God and pray for those in distress to turn to Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3: 15 says, “Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts. And be thankful.”