I typically avoid anything controversial, and keep my opinion off social platforms. But this I can’t sit back and keep quiet about. Not when it’s a decision being made by the church I attend and the Pastor I have listened to and trusted for so many years. This isn’t just a little decision that impacts few people. This has the potential to negatively impact hundreds of people. And it’s been heavy on my heart since last Sunday when I sat on my couch with my jaw to the floor completely appalled at the message Pastor Dave was preaching. I had to turn it off. Never have I been so confused and frustrated. And then the bomb was dropped on Facebook with a self righteous, self seeking post about opening the doors of the church this Sunday, when the state of Indiana remains on a stay at home order, and all non essential businesses including churches are to remain closed for the safety of the community.
Pastor Dave claimed our religious freedoms were under attack and being stripped from believers; that he could stand no more, and people needed to worship in church. He went on to explain how he was going to do this “legally” only allowing 10 to gather every hour — he failed to mention that this number was excluding himself, his wife, the tech crew, the cleaning crew, the parking crew, and the worship team. Add those together and you are looking at 20+ people gathering in the same building every hour for 30 services. That’s 600 people in 2 days and you want me to believe that in the 20 minutes between services they are going to be able to eliminate any germs that are carried through the door by asymptomatic carriers? And before you come at me about how grocery stores are worse I have not been inside a building other than my home since March 9th. I am staying AT HOME like I was instructed to do. Because to me, there is nothing more essential than the health and well being of my family.
I am also reading my Bible, FREELY. I am praying everyday multiple times a day, FREELY. I am worshiping in my living room and in my car and in my kitchen, FREELY. I am attending church service every Sunday live-streamed on my computer, FREELY. My religious freedom remains intact. My relationship with God is stronger than it ever has been, all at the cost of staying home to keep my neighbors, my family, my friends, and community SAFE.
GOD does not care about WHERE I have a relationship with Him, all He cares about is that I DO.
This virus is serious, and these 10 people an hour can potentially infect hundreds of people. Why take the risk? Sure there is a chance no one will get sick, but there is a much larger chance someone will. And unfortunately, I know all to well what it is like to watch a loved one fight a serious, and very similar virus as that of COVID-19.
This is my 11 day old baby fighting to breath because of RSV. Another respiratory virus that is MILD in comparison to COVID-19. When our baby girl was moved to the ICU the doctor informed us that if things did not progress the next step would be a ventilator. This occurred only two months before COVID took the hospital by storm – so whether or not a ventilator would be available had she needed one, was never a question. Today, it would be. I sat beside my daughter every single day for the 10 days she was in the hospital. We watched as she struggled to take her next breath, and we held ours as her oxygen saturation’s plummeted and the respiratory therapists came in to raise the o2 levels on the machine that was pumping air into her nose so that her tiny lungs continued to work. Now imagine that this was your baby or your mother or your husband and you couldn’t be there with them. Imagine you couldn’t hold their hand when the nurses came in every 30 minutes to check vitals. Imagine you couldn’t look into their eyes when they were scared, or tell them you love them when they were fighting for their life.
THAT is why we are asked to stay home, for people with compromised immune systems who this virus attacks rapidly and unforgivably. For patients that are struggling to take their next breath -and because of the surge in patients at the healthcare facilities- don’t have access to the medical devices they need. It’s to protect the healthcare providers that are taking a risk every single time they step into one of these rooms with a positive COVID patient. It’s to hopefully avoid any of our family members having to fight the hardest fight of their lives, ALONE.
But, to Pastor Dave worshiping alone is the real problem. People need to be inside a church, gathering as a congregation because to him church is the most essential thing.
I guess to some, dying alone is worth the risk to worship a God who loves to meet people right where they are.
In their living room.
In their car.
In their kitchen.
In their rocking chair holding their sweet baby who got to come home.
…and in a hospital bed as they fight to take another breath or as the machine they are hooked up to does it for them. All while their loved ones are at home not knowing if they’ll ever see them again.
iTown Church, Pastor Dave, you are making a mistake. And unfortunately it’s at the cost of so many peoples health, and for what? Publicity, fame, church growth? I am not naive enough to turn a blind eye to the very OBVIOUS coincidence that your controversial move was aired on the same television station where you just started iTown TV, or that one of the prominent members of the church is also a well known news anchor for WTHR, or that the story was aired only hours after you posted it on Facebook – tell me, did you hand deliver it to the news station yourself?
Your decision sadly is not about reaching people to advance God’s kingdom but rather to reach people to advance yours.
And unfortunately many iTown church members, including myself, are now searching for a new church home. I am beyond disappointed in this irresponsible decision, and I am praying that God spares you, and the members that decide to gather in the next couple days, any negative consequences to your self-seeking actions.
A believer who opposes this decision, FREELY.