When restrictions ease, what next?

Over the past few weeks and days, I’ve spoken with many pastors who continue to pray for God’s wisdom as they faithfully lead their church congregations through these uncharted waters. They are giving their best efforts in helping their people navigate through lifestyle changes that families are struggling with, but are necessary because of widespread sickness and loss of many lives due to COVID-19.

There is a growing desire by many for the restrictions to be lifted or eased. The mere mention of the possibility of getting back to some semblance of normalcy is welcome news to everyone, myself included, but we are still several weeks away from this becoming reality.

On Thursday, April 23, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the stay-at-home order for North Carolina to May 8 and outlined a three-phased plan for reopening our state. No dates have been given on when the phasing will begin. Churches can resume gathering in phase two, but at limited capacities. Phase two won’t begin until a minimum of two to three weeks after the first phase begins.

The recent discussions about easing restrictions have given some hope that we may be able to assemble together again in our church buildings in the not-too-distant future. And when we first begin gathering in our churches, the impact of the deadly coronavirus will still be felt. We will need to utilize safety precautions of extreme sanitation and safe social distancing for a while, which should include not shaking hands or hugging.

I recognize that Americans, including those in the Christian community, have differing opinions in relation to decisions that are being made by national and state government officials during this pandemic. These are not easy decisions to make. Leaders face difficult decisions under normal circumstances, but those difficulties are magnified in the unprecedented times in which we are living.

Whatever your personal position is about the decisions our government leaders are making, I encourage you to practice the admonition given to Christ-followers in Romans 13:1 and 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Let’s pray for these leaders, asking God to give them wisdom and help them make the right decisions.

Personally, I do not see an effort to prevent us from proclaiming the gospel or teaching our biblical convictions, but we are being encouraged to do this in a way that does not expose a lot of people to a sickness that could cost them their lives.

As a state convention, staff members have worked diligently to provide resources and encouragement to pastors and church leaders amid everything they have been facing in light of the coronavirus. We have been virtually assembling via Zoom conferences to pray for church leaders and members. We have been praying that God will glorify Himself through His church in the midst of this pandemic.

Similarly, we are here to provide assistance, encouragement and additional resources on how churches can get started again and how things will be different once our worship gatherings in church buildings resume. New resources related to reopening churches are available on the convention website at ncbaptist.org/covid19.

As we continue to navigate these days when many of our foundations have been shaken, let us be reminded of our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is our steadfast anchor in times of trouble.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” — Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)


by Milton A. Hollifield Jr.  
/  Executive Director-Treasurer  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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