The spread of the coronavirus continues to affect many – and concern many more. While your state missionaries are not medical professionals, we are suggesting some steps Missouri Baptist churches may take to protect their people when they gather to worship.
Jim Misloski, director of developing leaders for the MBC, shared the following with one of our church leaders, and you might consider this information helpful in your local church’s decision-making process:
“At this time (at our church), we are not stopping the ‘greeting and welcome time.’ That may change as the situation develops. Some in the congregation are not concerned about the virus and some of them are very concerned. We need to respond to each other regardless of our comfort/concern level with gentleness and respect.
“Those with compromised health should have concerns and have every right to take precautions. We need to address those health concerns and affirm and encourage the right practices.
“Here are some basic hygienic protocols to follow:
1. Don’t panic.
2. Wash your hands often.
3. Avoid touching your face.
4. Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough (preferably with the pit of your elbow).
5. Don’t buy face masks. (Medical professionals need them and they won’t help you.)
6. Stay home if you’re sick. (A temperature is an automatic stay-home rule.)
“In regards to ‘meet and greet’ practices, if you don’t want regular contact, like a hand shake or hug, hold out a fist for a fist bump, hold out an elbow if you prefer an elbow bump, or hold up your hands if you prefer no contact at all. Respect the preferences of others. No one’s preferences are better or worse than someone else’s.
“With these health concerns, encourage one another to lean into the Lord. Mark 4:41 reminds us that the wind and the waves bow to Him. And the coronavirus is no exception. He is bigger than this. He is on the throne working out His purposes for His glory and this virus threat is a servant to His purposes.
“We are not immune from the coronavirus just because we’re Christians. We experience crises of all kinds. Because our hope is in Christ, we can experience this with hope and forgiveness and not fear or condemnation.
“We pray that as believers lean into the power and presence of the Lord, He makes us a point of light and calm in a stormy time.”
Thanks, Jim, for these insights. I encourage each of our churches to develop protocols that promote good health and attentiveness to each other.
Protecting the vulnerable in our churches
The coronavirus isn’t the only threat to our churches. Abuse is a sinful scourge that all-too-often affects local congregations. And MBC churches are not immune. But we can take positive steps to protect the vulnerable among us.
An excellent start is for every church to train every church member to detect, report, and prevent abuse. There are several excellent ministries we recommend, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Caring Well, along with Ministry Safe, and Stewards of Children, a training program led by our own Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.
Pastors, I urge you to schedule training for your people in 2020. Learn more and get started by visiting our webpage, mobaptist.org/prevent.
You’ll find other church-protection ministries on this page as well, such as church-security training.
The community of Christ-followers should be the safest place on earth for any person. Let’s make sure to prepare all our people to detect, report, and, most of all, prevent abuse of those the Lord has entrusted to our care.