There is a lot of debate on whether or not it is acceptable for churches to put off weekly assembly during this largely overblown coronavirus scandal that is taking out the world right now. While some have argued that to neglect the assembly for any reason is serious treason against God while others have argued that we, as the Church, must submit to Caesar. One thing is for certain — the ordinances of the Church are not optional.
Believers are commanded to baptize new believers and the Church is to partake in communion regularly. While most churches don’t actually do these things on a weekly basis, Thomas Kidd at The Gospel Coalition is suggesting that churches put it off for months — possibly years — until an “effective” COVID-19 vaccine is available.
Kidd, Distinguished Professor at Baylor University writes in an article at The Gospel Coalition titled Tactile Religion in a Time of Pandemic,
…we can see that contact rituals were more varied and common in early American Baptist churches than in typical Southern Baptist churches today. The question for Baptists (and all churches going forward, at least until the availability of a vaccine) is how many of our contact rituals are essential? And how might the essential practices (such as baptism or the Lord’s Supper) be delayed or modified for medical safety?
Of course, we believe that vulnerable people should be protected from any disease. That goes for any calamity, common or novel. It’s always been the historic position of the Church that sickness and disease is a providential hindrance to gathering. Churches should take steps to protect the elderly. Families should take precautions to take care of the vulnerable. And people should wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitizer. And for crying out loud, cover your mouth when you cough. But the Church cannot delay the commandments of God to baptize and partake in the Lord’s supper.
So if you’re that scared, put on a mask, put on a hazmat suit if you need to, and do what God has called you to do and stop making excuses for it. And if your sick or hindered from coming, then stay home until you’re better.