Monday, March 16, 2020

To Church or Not to Church

When I was a teen - centuries ago - I was temporarily employed by my dad's boss. My job was to shovel several cubic meters of soil from the front yard and transport it to the back...all day long. Because the days were hot, and I was overweight and unfit, my dad advised me to pace myself or I wouldn't last. The problem was that one of the other senior workers derided me for being too slow. When I paced up, my dad would berate me for not listening to him. I couldn't please both men.

In a different context, James White astutely tweeted:

"When the elders agreed that we will be gathering for worship and the Supper tomorrow, I specifically noted that we should not announce it in such a way to condemn those not gathering, while being prepared to be condemned by some of the same." ~ James White

Sure enough some people just had to criticize the decision to assemble. It was inevitable.

However, I've also seen criticism leveled at those pastors who decided not to congregate on Sunday 15th March 2020. One critic is a well-known presup apologist. The other is a blogger - apparently, John MacArthur has bowed down to Caesar. Does anyone seriously believe that?

Both these guys are very smart - smarter than I can ever hope to aspire to. What they aren't are pastors of large churches who have to make informed, difficult, biblical decisions.

The church I attend decided against assembling:
Dear Parkside Family,
In response to Governor DeWine’s statement on March 12 restricting large gatherings over 100, Parkside Church has decided to cancel all Sunday services for March 15. While religious institutions are excluded from this ban, in an abundance of care and concern for our neighbors, and with the hope of slowing the spread of this virus, Parkside Church has decided to follow the state's guidelines.
Please note:
On Sunday, March 15, at 9:45am, we invite you to join us online at the Parkside Church homepage or the Parkside Facebook page for a streamed service.

All Parkside events scheduled through Saturday, March 21, are canceled.

Sunday services for March 22 will be decided as this situation develops and we have further information.

All nursing home-related events including nursing home Bible studies and meetings are suspended until further notice.
While all of Parkside’s public gatherings are canceled through the week, our facility is open, and our pastoral and administrative teams will be in the office to continue to care for the needs of our congregation. And, while this situation is unprecedented, we are hopeful that each one of us will take opportunities to care for those around us with the love and compassion exemplified by Christ.
Please continue to pray that this situation will cause hearts to open and respond to the Gospel.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Steve Terrell, on behalf of the elders at Parkside Church
One of Parkside Church's members is a medic from Cleveland Clinic. I can't recall her official role but she's at the forefront of what is going on. Alistair Begg asked her to come and answer some brief questions re the virus. Her response was measured - don't panic, yet take precautions. My guess is that Parkside's decision to forego meeting on Sunday was partly based on her advice.

For the record Parkside normally advocates for Morning and Evening church attendance. The commitment of its pastors is unquestionable. Yet some people never waste an opportunity to point fingers. What a pity!

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