While many states are lifting pandemic social distancing guidelines, healthcare professionals remain uncertain about the wisdom of resuming large gatherings. The U.S. continues to weather the most severe COVID-19 outbreak in the world, crossing the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths on Wednesday, and 70 percent of pastors have told the Barna Group that they don’t expect to resume services until at least June.
That includes the pastor of one of the nation’s largest and most influential megachurches. Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, has released a video message saying Saddleback Church in Orange County will remain closed.
“While we’re all eager to gather together for worship, we have decided for many important reasons that Saddleback is going to be patient and we’re going to wait for better conditions before we resume our large, public gatherings,” Warren says.
You can watch the whole 20-minute announcement below.
In the video, Warren discusses six themes of the decision, including his motive for remaining closed, which he says is motivated by love and faith, not fear. He also cited the structure of the Church, when Warren says makes Saddleback “impervious to storms.”
“Saddleback has never been closed during these past eleven weeks,” Warren says. “On the contrary, we’ve been doing more in our communities than ever before. Our buildings have been closed, but the church is not a building. We are a living, breathing body …we are a people, not a place.”