Six COVID Controversies in Churches Today

They contact our team daily. 

They want to make the right decision, but it seems that any decision gets them in trouble. 

Pastors in churches around the world are, like all of us, navigating a new reality. It’s not a new normal; it is truly a new reality. 

These pastors, of course, have never been confronted with these types of controversies. They love their church members, but the church members are not always loving them back. 

Here are the six most common controversies we are hearing from pastors as they contact Church Answers. The list, of course, is not exhaustive nor is it mutually exclusive. 

  1. Mask vs. no mask. This one is by far the most common. Members get mad if masks are required. Members get mad if masks aren’t required. Masks or no masks for some members become a sign of political affiliation.
  1. Social distance vs. no social distance. As an introvert, I have been practicing social distancing all my life. But some members don’t like it. Yet, if you don’t practice social distancing in the church, some members don’t like that either.
  1. Change vs. no change. Of course, this debate is not new. But the pace of change has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Some members don’t understand why the church can’t get back to the way it’s always done it. Other members think it’s time to move rapidly before the blank slate becomes cluttered. 
  1. Same personnel vs. change in personnel. One church discovered during the pandemic it really did not need a full-time receptionist. Relatively few people came in the church facilities pre-COVID, and the number dropped to almost zero from the quarantine to today. The leaders deleted the position. Some members are really mad. 
  1. Zoom vs. no Zoom. Just like a number of employees liked the digital opportunity to work from anywhere, so did many church members who connected with other church members through Zoom or some other video technology. This debate is particularly evident in the ministry of small groups. Some want to keep the ministry digital. Others want to meet in person. The pastor wants two ibuprofen. 
  1. Regather vs. don’t regather. For many churches, this season of regathering is in its early transitional stage. As more members return and regather, a number of members are choosing to remain digital. We are now hearing about divisions of members between the regathered and the digital. 

It seems the one area where we need to focus more powerfully is grace. We need to show grace to pastors and other church leaders who feel like they are making lose-lose decisions. We need to show grace to members who are not ready to regather. Some of them are elderly. Some of them have young children and are not ready to expose them to crowds. Some have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable. Some of them have loved ones who are sick or who have died. 

Maybe our focus for this season should be more of a focus on grace. After all, we have been shown grace by a Savior who died for us.

The least we can do is to demonstrate grace and an attitude of humility to those with whom we may have different opinions.

Posted on October 19, 2020

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Jaeson says on

    This pandemic has really brought out how much people in the United States cannot follow basic health and safety precautions. They are selfish and foolish. The sad part is the church is leading the way with the stupidity parade. Wearing a mask is as basic as washing your hands after you poop. That simple. It helps to stop you spreading your germs if you are sick, or asymptomatic. Christians in America today look like fools. There are plenty of people who would have loved the support of a church during this time, but the church is not a safe place to visit. I would have liked to go, but I know it was unsafe, and probably still has some unsafe level happening. I was going to outdoor small gatherings, then they moved them indoors and told members they could be maskless (um WHAT?). I wore my mask (as everyone stared at me like I was a weirdo). 6 feet apart inside doesn’t work. There are no windows. Zero ventilation. I’m not sure if it was because they thought they could operate like a school or not….or a willful violation. I didn’t feel safe. I left going to small group after having attended for 2 years straight. I haven’t gone back to service since no way I’m sitting in a packed building with maskless fools. I went back to small group after everyone in my house was vaccinated. I still wear a mask since I can’t trust any of them. And well, it is wise. The people are scared of the vaccine. They don’t want to bother reading about it. These are people in their 20s and 30s! One lonely couple wears a mask along with me while sitting in a closed room with no windows and 20 other people. I have my n99 which I refuse to take off. Good thing! At least one person came down with covid. Everyone was around them last Tuesday. Maskless (except me and that couple). Another girl is now super sick and thinks she caught it from that guy. Do I go this upcoming Tuesday? Prob not. I may have to skip a week and avoid people out of an abundance of precaution. Everyone in that room should be tested for covid. Not that they will. They continue to remain willfully ignorant about the possibility of infection. They were in there maskless in a 20×30 room for 2 hours with a dude who prob had it and was asymptomatic. Many people from the church were in contact with him and his roommates. What if there was an old lady around? What if I hadn’t been vaccinated and was maskless talking to them?

    Basic health guidelines are NOT a religious issue. The Jews were given hundreds of guidelines about sick people and putting them outside the camp. Why did it become so hard?

  • In states where there is are covid mandates, the question of to mask ans socially distance is a moot point. Churches are to follow the law. It’s that simple. My church is in Virginia and they aren’t following any of the mandates. I don’t understand how they are taking that stance. It has truly undermined my trust in leadership. When you start corporately breaking the law as a church, where does that end? We do not get to decide as Christians which laws to obey. It has made me sick the pride I have seen from people basically saying, you won’t tell me what to do. Well, the law says we have to pay our taxes, how fast we can drive, that we must wear seats belts and a myriad of other laws. The state CAN tell us certain things and we as Christians especially are supposed to obey those laws. Thank you

    • Jaeson says on

      Yep! 100% I think it is a really negative “witness” — people do’nt want to attend church and have written off everyone in church as morons!

  • Wally Holt says on

    Good Morning
    Where would you go to find sermon outlines for Church Revitalization .
    Thank you
    Wally Holt

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