There is a good deal of worldwide debate occurring in local churches about when and if congregations should gather. Since we are exhorted to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, gathering is vital for our faith (Hebrews 10:23–25).
But as we have said before, the eldership is persuaded that, at this stage in the pandemic, there remains good and sufficient reasons to comply with government’s mandated restriction that churches gather with no more than fifty people at a time. This is not a Romans 14 matter (i.e. a matter of conscience) but rather a Romans 13 matter: a matter of clear commandment. Government’s restrictions are in line with their responsibility for the health and welfare of our nation. Therefore, at this stage, BBC has a biblical responsibility to comply.
Though we are restricted to fifty people, we are not restricted to the number of gatherings. Therefore, theoretically if every member of BBC wanted to gather on the Lord’s Day, we could provide additional service times (within reason) to accommodate our congregation. I say “theoretically” because we are well aware that several in our congregation carry comorbidities and are at greater physical risk of COVID-19. Therefore, it is quite understandable that such would find attendance at any public gathering uncomfortable, if not dangerous.
However, many of us are not in that position and so gathering remains possible. I will argue that it’s still good to gather.
I’ll be the first to admit that gathering at the church building in these days is not comparable to what we had before. At this point, we are not singing, and the seating leaves big gaps between one another. The service times are around twenty minutes shorter (a plus?), there is no crèche facility, and there is no coffee or tea afterwards. To top it off, the past several Sunday mornings have been very cold and so, if one had to choose, well, wrapped in a warm blanket cuddled up on one’s couch watching a livestream is rather inviting.
Nevertheless, it’s still good to gather on the Lord’s Day, for it provides us with the opportunity to see others, to catch up with one another, and to enjoy the experience of sitting under God’s word together. For the fifty people who joined with us this past Sunday, I think we all went away affirming the words of the psalmist: We were “glad … to go to the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1).
But in addition to these reasons, another reason why it’s still good to gather is that it protects a healthy habit.
As I have written before, we need to beware the danger of the current abnormal becoming a comfortable norm; careful that our cocoon does not become a spiritual and relational coffin.
Yes, we are grateful for technology and for the ability to be fed through our livestreamed sermons. And the recent livestreamed Sunday evening prayer meetings have been helpful for our church membership. But these are no substitutes for physically gathering with other believers. And, while “partial gatherings” do not constitute the corporate gathering of the local church (therefore we are not observing the Lord’s Supper), nevertheless, making the effort to get the family ready, leaving our homes on a cold morning, and coming to the building is worth it. Not only does it keep us “in practice” for a better day but, more importantly, it encourages others who will also gather. I venture to guess that you will be encouraged as well!
This Sunday evening, we begin providing another opportunity to gather. Please, register, come, and gather!
This week, we will keep registration open for the morning service even after the first fifty register. If more register, we will ask some (who have been attending) to serve the body by giving their space to others. And if the demand justifies it, we will consider in coming weeks adding another Sunday services—or two?
Brothers and sisters, if you are able, please sign up. After all, for many reasons, it’s still good to gather.
Gathering—I hope!—with you,