The May 10, 2020 Charlotte Observer printed a story about churches in Gaston County, NC being eager to re-open for worship. In fact, many churches across America share the same desire. The article quotes Rev. Austin Rammell of Venture Church in Dallas, NC: “The worship of Jesus is a community event, and when that’s restricted it creates a burden on their [worshipers] very spirituality. The very word ‘church’ means ‘a gathering.’
Citizens protest the restrictions being placed on our population by governments, and some state governors have acquiesced to the protestors and begun opening businesses. Some governors, like NC Governor Cooper are following a detailed re-opening based on data from health officials. Folks in Gaston County find his approach too slow and are expressing angst at his plan. We can debate the merits of being closed or re-opened or whatever but will only know if a particular state’s plan is sound or not by the rise or fall of the COVID-19 virus. However, what I disagree with in the article are the words of Rev. Austin Rammell.
I offer him that no Christ follower needs a building to worship Jesus. In fact, we are told by Jesus that prayer offers meaningful worship. I also argue against Rev. Rammel who thinks that any government can restrict any worship of Jesus. That’s impossible, and certainly no government is powerful enough to create a burden on the spirituality of any Christ follower. Only in succumbing to Satan, can a burden be created on spirituality. Lastly, Rev. Rammell is wrong when he says that the word church means a gathering. Church is a building, a place. It is not needed in order to worship. Worship of Jesus can take place anywhere and anytime. The word also is used in designating a body of believers, but the body is not required for individual worship of Jesus.
As a Christ follower, Sunday School teacher, and deacon in my church, I long to gather once again with fellow believers for many reasons. However, I support and will follow Governor Cooper’s guidelines because I believe it important to do so as a citizen. This plague causes many hardships. I suspect that Rev. Rammell, who has had a church member die from the virus, knows too well its danger. So I ask him and all others who feel the inconveniences we face to think of their own well-being and the well-being of others. After all, Christianity began in the homes of believers. Small groups. Remember that He is with us even if only two or three.