editors note: The following post begins a series of articles on a very complex issue. Thanks for your patience and understanding as I unpack the idea of ministering safely, and effectively
This is the first picture that I took actively wearing a mask on August 19. At the time I put it on, took the picture, and took it off since COVID had not affected SVG.
Things have changed a lot since then
shortly after Christmas, community contact started to spread Saint Vincent. This led to a massive spike in COVID cases 1. Now a mask is an absolute necessity for daily life.
Of course I am not complaining. There are many Countries who have been either “locked down” or under serious restrictions since March. The virus was bound to affect us in SVG eventually.
The thing about constant sanitising, staying at home, wearing masks, and calling off some church services is it isn’t enjoyable. Basically that messes up your rhythm of daily habits.
It’s tempting therefore to reject the new protocols and just keep doing what you have been doing.
Trust me I get that adapting to new rules is frustrating
But overlooking protocols created for your safety isn’t just foolish…its incredibly selfish.
Three weeks ago we entered into a new protocol that asked churches to wear masks, sanitise, and keep indoor crowds under ten. It was frustrating in a way adapting to new rules, but I realise it was for everyone else’s safety as well as my own. Yet there was a deeper reason why I carefully obeyed new protocols.
We obey because our public testimony in a crisis reflects on the Gospel
in a small community like ours, when a church wilfully chooses to ignore the safety protocols, people notice. In my opinion that’s a good thing because a Church that wears masks, sanitises, and keeps indoor numbers under ten will have a great deal of integrity. But those who don’t follow through gain a bad reputation.
The big talk in the community is about two churches that chose not to follow protocol, and in both situations something bad happened:
- The first church refused to control their crowding, sanitise, or wear masks. Their pastor openly said COVID couldn’t affect them because of their faith 2. The pastor is currently at home with, you guessed it, COVID
- The second was a local church that after the Prime Minister asked for things to calm down over a four day weekend held a huge funeral with people who did not wear masks. Police ended up being called, and bringing people out of the service.
In both of these cases the public testimony of the church was greatly damaged because they refused to follow safety precautions. In a more basic sense, any believer who chooses to put themselves and others at danger is damaging their testimony.
This is not a post about whether or not masks work 3. It is an encouragement to follow safety guidelines within reason (I will explain this tomorrow, but we make sure to stand firmly on religious liberty while being safe). Not because its fun or enjoyable (it isn’t), but because it strengthens our Gospel witness.
Today while visiting people in the community (while wearing a mask and sanitising) I sort of forgot I was wearing it. But even if it did bother me I would wear it anyways.
Because it’s not about me…..
Its about the Gospel