As you are aware, we are in an incredibly unusual time with the coronavirus pandemic. ABSC churches are faced with the challenge of navigating very difficult circumstances. Local, state, and federal officials continue to provide updated recommendations as new information becomes available. Most recently, the President, Center for Disease Control, and the Governor has asked that people limit group gatherings, yet the very nature of the church involves gathering together. With this in mind, let me share a few updates with you.
– We are being asked if the Arkansas Baptist State Convention has an official stance regarding whether or not a church should conduct public services. We do not have an official stance on this, but would encourage each church to handle this as a local church decision.
– We are being asked what most churches are doing in regard to conducting public gatherings in response to the coronavirus. Churches are actually responding to this pandemic with great diversity. Some are still having regular services, others are conducting modified or limited services, a number are meeting in smaller groups in homes, and some are livestreaming their worship service. Many are encouraging online giving.
This is a great time for “the church to be the church.” People still need ministry, spiritual guidance, and encouragement. We are commanded to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission no matter what the circumstances or the cost.
Be kind, gracious, and respectful to other churches and pastors who may respond differently than you concerning this pandemic. This is a critical time for pastors, staff, and churches to pray for each other, with each other, and encourage each other. New information is coming out regularly, so you and your church leaders should make short-term decisions, maintain flexibility, and develop multiple options moving forward.
Your State Convention staff stands ready to assist in any way possible. Please join me in praying that these unique circumstances open new and unique avenues for incredible Gospel impact!
J.D. “Sonny” Tucker is executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.