As you know, within our Baptist polity that is not a question seeking permission but rather an informed perspective. I wish there were a single response with a definitive date, but that is a call every church must make for itself.
Based on the latest information, I would offer the following for careful consideration by all pastors and church leaders in relation to the topic of reopening the church:
- Ultimately it is a local church decision (both in terms of autonomy and the church’s context relative to the pandemic).
- Be prudent and make decisions based on the best available information for your area.
- Consult with local health officials in making a decision as they will have the best understanding of area risks.
- Consider the potential risks to members and visitors, especially those who might fall into high-risk categories.
- Be a good neighbor and a good example to your community. (What would it look like if you’re meeting and the community is locked down?)
Also, please keep in mind that just because steps are being taken to slowly open elements of our communities, not everything is opening, such as places where large numbers of people closely gather like sporting events, theatres and churches.
There are no easy answers as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters. Pastors and churches must balance the need to be a good neighbor in following social distancing guidelines and the risks being communicated by medical experts.
I am very proud of the hard work of TBC churches over the last five to six weeks. You’ve been creative, courageous and diligent as you have sought to seize this unprecedented opportunity for gospel advancement. I believe our greatest opportunities lie ahead of us. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to serve you. May God bless you with wisdom as you move cautiously forward.
It’s a joy to be on this journey with you.
Randy C. Davis
President and Executive Director
Tennessee Baptist Mission Board