Something that has struck me in the response of churches to “re-opening”— after having their doors locked by governments in fear of a global pandemic— has been the seeming pushing away of the oldest age bracket and those that are sick.
I’ve heard of churches in Chicago checking temperatures of attenders and turning away those with low-grade fevers. I’ve heard churches warn that the elderly, the weak, the immunocompromised should stay home for the time being.
And nothing about that sounds like Christ. Not for a second. And it’s masked in language of “loving our neighbor,” while sounding like the way the lepers were treated in Christ’s day.
So I am overjoyed to see that Tim Challies, a preacher and author I greatly respect, has seen the same and they are trying to address it within their church’s plan. He writes:
We weren’t far into the planning when we realized the temptation to make plans that were premised upon youth and health—plans that did not account for those who are at the highest risk for COVID-19. We could default to messaging like, “If you are elderly or high-risk, please stay home for the time being.” And while that might be the safe play, isn’t church meant to be the place that deliberately and specifically welcomes the weak?
So they have started to flip the question:
For that reason we’ve begun to prioritize this question: How can we welcome the weak? Instead of assuming the weak should not factor into our plans, we are asking how they might factor first in our plans.
That’s the thing about Christianity. It is counter-cultural. If your plan to re-open church excludes the old, sick, weak, and weary, I might recommend that you dive back into your Bible, because they should be coming first.