The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new terms to the American public. One of them is “social distancing,” a technique to ensure people do not needlessly spread the virus.
Specific recommendations about social distancing have been made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among them are staying at least six feet from other people, not gathering in groups of 10 or more, and staying away from crowded places.
But social distancing doesn’t mean being socially distant. We can still socialize from a distance. Churches are accomplishing this through video streaming, social media posts, phone calls to parishioners, and even drive-in services.
It hasn’t been easy for church leaders to change the way they minister, but there are important reasons to adapt and make the best of it. Here are five:
1. It combats the problem. To reduce the spread of the virus, everyone must do their part. This is an issue that affects the whole world. No other crisis in our time has had such a far-reaching impact.
When churches practice social distancing, they are making a difference in their communities and beyond.
Churches can show the world how much they believe in the sanctity of life by doing everything to protect lives.
2. It assists in recovery. Everyone wants to get back to normal as soon as possible. There are different opinions on when and how that should happen. But the reality is, the more people practice social distancing, the sooner we can resume our regular activities and in-person church gatherings.
There are economic and social impacts to social distancing, of course. It has created a burden on large segments of the workforce, disrupted education, halted travel, kept families apart, and closed church buildings.
However, this makes social distancing all the more important. Reducing the spread of the virus will bring a quicker resolution to the crisis.
3. It protects others. The greatest benefit of social distancing is that it helps the most vulnerable among us. Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Most at risk are the elderly and those with underlying health issues. Churches that practice social distancing are demonstrating they care about these members of the community.
4. It honors life. Social distancing is a way to express honor for life because it recognizes this virus can be deadly. Churches can show the world how much they believe in the sanctity of life by doing everything to protect lives.
5. It demonstrates Christlikeness. Social distancing is not just a health matter; it’s a community matter. Churches can take the lead by complying with government orders in a kind and loving way.
This is an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus. Only God could use the closing of church doors as a way to open up the gospel to more people.
Social distancing is difficult and inconvenient, but it is also necessary and effective. And the Holy Spirit is still working and moving in our churches — no matter how far apart our members may be.