May 29, 2020

Church, State, and COVID-19: Seven Biblical Principles for Guiding Your Church through the Crisis

Recently, Mark Forrest, Senior Pastor of the church where I serve as Teaching Pastor, asked me to write about the principles we have been following to help us determine when to reopen for worship. He shared these today with our congregation. They are shared here with other church leaders in the hope they may help your church, too.

In light of the Coronavirus epidemic, when should the church re-open? And how should it do so? Does the state have authority to decide what churches may do? The questions your church leadership faces have few parallels in modern American history. In response to this unique crisis, we are seeking to obey the Word of God and honor the wisdom of human beings.

Here are seven biblical principles which are guiding our church:
  • First, the Lord commands believers to gather regularly for worship (Heb 10:25; 1 Cor 11:25).
  • Second, God also commands us to honor the governments He constituted (Rom 13:1-17; 1 Pet 2:13-17). 
  • Third, Christ remains the sole ruler of his church (Matt 28:18-20; Col 1:18). 
  • Fourth, if a government instructs the church to stop preaching, we must, with utmost respect, obey Christ (Acts 4:13-21). 
  • Fifth, God’s people must pursue the welfare of the broader community (Jer 29:7). 
  • Sixth, we must receive wise counsel (Prov 11:14, 12:13, 19:20, 24:6). 
  • Finally, we must seek God’s help in prayer (Phil 4:6).
Because of our respect for God-given government, and in order to pursue the welfare of our entire community, we rightly submit to health instructions at the national, state, and local level. We believe Lakeside Baptist Church has been blessed, because God granted us responsible governments, who seek the best social counsel possible while respecting our fundamental right of religious liberty. (However, even if worrisome signs appear, we must remember to honor the government God has given yet also preserve religious liberty.)

In conclusion, we are seeking God’s will, which is always the best way. Would you join in praying that God will make clearly evident to everyone the right way forward for the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and for the welfare of others? Let us trust He will!


Lakeside Baptist Church of Granbury, Texas is borrowing a 3,000-seat outdoor venue this Sunday to re-start our formal physical gathering.

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