Sunday Corporate Worship Service in Response to COVID-19

The entire world seems to be consumed with COVID-19 the past several weeks. Houston, where we live, is not any exception. Just a few days ago, one major university announced that they are shutting down the school for the remainder of the semester and all the students except few whose homelands are more susceptible to COVID-19 are asked to go home. The students will receive their instruction from their professors through online teaching.

New Life has been committed to “Give, suffer and die” for Christ and his kingdom. And I think I can honestly say that we have done our best to live that life before God. Even in the midst of tropical storms and hurricanes when the electricity went out, we still met. There was never a time when we canceled our Sunday corporate worship service or house church in New Life history. We are in the business of training strong soldiers for Jesus Christ.

Therefore, when it comes to sacrificing our own lives for God, we are all for it. However, when what we do, no matter how sacrificial it may appear to us, could potentially hurt, worsen or destroy other people’s lives, then that is not the kind of “Give, suffer and die” that we do at New Life. For example, even if we stay up all night praying to God sacrificing our sleep, if we raise our voice loudly to pray and, in the process of doing it, we cause disturbance to our next-door neighbors, then that is not the kind of sacrifice that God will be delighted with.

After listening to the news, reading articles, spending time in prayer, reflecting on the Scripture, discussing with the staff and LT, and seeking advice from medical professionals, I have come to realize that the most loving thing for us to do for our neighbors at times like this is not to have our Sunday corporate worship service in a large group setting in our church building. Instead, we will worship God as a house church by gathering together either at shepherd’s home or whoever’s home that is available. This doesn’t mean that we will do this again the following Sunday. But we will make a decision very prayerfully each week as we go along.

For tomorrow, let’s use our imagination thinking that we are living in a country where there is no freedom to worship publicly. So, pretend that we are worshipping God secretly by gathering together at people’s houses. In fact, this is what many of our Christian brothers and sisters go through week after week all over the world. Through this experience tomorrow, I hope we can understand and relate to them just a little bit better as to what they have to go through to worship God and maintain their faith in Jesus. Also, I pray that tomorrow’s worship experience will give us a more heightened sense of realizing that Sunday corporate worship service is truly God’s blessings to us. I hope this experience will change our view towards Sunday corporate worship service and we will not take it for granted any longer.

As we navigate through this situation caused by COVID-19, we will respond with love, wisdom, and courage. The Scripture tells us, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Cor. 13:13). Doing our part in slowing down the spread of the virus so that our medical professionals will not be overwhelmed with the number of patients they have to treat in their limited facility all at once and they are not placed in a situation where they have to choose whose lives they will save first is a loving thing to do. And New Life as a body of Christ is committed to this.

If the situation gets worse and social distancing is much more required, then we will most likely do online worship individually or as an individual family. And knowing the importance of God’s word in our spiritual growth, I will record my message and make it available for all members of New Life and regular VIPs in one way or another.

At times like this, I see the power and effectiveness of our house church ministry. I think this is the blessing of God that we get to experience as we do our best to build God’s church as biblically as possible.

In the meantime, let’s all pray that God will have mercy on us and we will be able to fight this together and overcome by the strength He gives us.

Your pastor,

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