To Open or Not to Open Church?

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

“To open or not to open?” The playwright William Shakespeare never pastored in the receding months of a global pandemic, but he clearly knew what it felt like to be caught between strong currents.

Today, these currents tug on Malaysian churches either reopening, keeping services online or doing them hybrid. But how do we navigate this conversation in a helpful and loving way?

It’s safe to say that by now, a pastor may have had between 50 to 50,000 thoughts about reopening church. What they need most, however, is for members to uphold them in prayer as they work through this difficult situation.

>>READ: How to support your pastor spiritually and naturally

>>READ: How to impact others with the compassion of Jesus

We can bear the burden together as one body

Instead of applying more pressure, how about reaching out to ask for their prayer needs? Ask to know their heart, and seek to understand their concerns. As we pray for wisdom for leadership to discern decisions, we can bear the burden together as one body, knowing that pastors love the Lord, love the flock and care for the congregations’ needs.

One of the many things we learnt during this pandemic is to continuously be kind and generous to others. Perhaps we can consider that not everyone who chooses to reopen church is reckless and irresponsible, or that those who choose to remain closed are paralysed by sinful fear.

Allow the Lord to check our hearts

For each of us – be it pastors or members – we also need to allow the Lord to check our hearts and “call us out.” Could we be harbouring personal preferences and fears? Could it be our own comfort that we are thinking about, or fears of a dwindling congregation not returning to church?

As our faith communities navigate the reopening church conversation, may we do so selflessly and humbly, always esteeming others as being good, Godly, and perhaps even better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

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About the Author

SK Ong pastors about a hundred dedicated believers in his local church. He loves long walks in the woods.


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