Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)
A survey from Send Institute* finds that although most churches are allowed to meet in person, fully 67% have decided to stay closed. Almost all, according to the survey, are citing continuing health concerns.
Dr. Robert Jeffress is senior pastor of First Baptist-Dallas, which is holding live services. He says he understands the concerns.
“I think we should be careful not to judge any church for not reopening, and understand that given their particular location, the virus may be a real threat,” he begins.
He also cautions people not to make this about government oppression. “This is not primarily a government problem, it’s a health problem,” Jeffress contends. “People are still concerned about the very real threat of the coronavirus.
But attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel has been fighting hard in courtrooms around the country for the rights of churches to open up.
“Jesus mentioned this in John 10. He says he’s the Good Shepherd, he’s willing to lay down his life for his sheep,” Staver notes. “But he also said there’s another kind of shepherd, and that’s a hired hand – and that when the real issues come and the problems come to the flock, they run away.”
In late May, President Donald Trump declared churches as “essential” and called on governors to allow them to reopen on May 24. But Staver shares that he is hearing from church members who are frustrated that their pastors are still keeping the doors closed. He predicts a lot of those people will be changing churches.
“Some of these government orders, many of them, did not classify churches as ‘essential’ – and I think we understand why now,” the Christian attorney states, “because in many cases, they’re frankly not. I think the people are really looking around for a church that is essential.”
* The Send Institute – a think tank for evangelism and church planting in North America – is a partnership between the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.