Prominent megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes says churches “across the board” are being impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic as other evangelical leaders such as fellow televangelist Paula White-Cain urges Christians to remember their covenant to support the church.
In a recent interview on "CBS This Morning," the senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, said churches “across the board” have been impacted financially at a time when large gatherings are being discouraged to prevent community spread of the coronavirus.
“I think across the board it is difficult to maintain the kind of financial impact that we normally would have and that’s a problem because right now churches really want to embrace the community,” Jakes said last Friday.
“We’re feeding people, we’re serving people, we’re reaching out to people in need and we help to keep some sort of equilibrium in the sociological fiber of our community. If we don’t have the resources to do that, that becomes difficult,” he noted.
He explained that his church has been “very creative” during the pandemic.
“We’ve been able to keep it going so far and I think many, many churches, both small and large, face different types of challenges. But we have been able to keep one another going so far,” Jakes said.
Last week, White-Cain stressed the importance of the church’s work to her audience on social media, and urged them to keep supporting their churches to ensure they have the resources they need to function.
“Churches do so much. Not just from a humanitarian standpoint, but the greatest thing we do is bring spiritual truths that transform. What we do as ministers of the Gospel is so vitally important because every single day we are a hospital to the sick, not necessarily the physically sick, though we also help take care of that. Many churches have health centers, etc. But we are hospitals for those who are soul sick. Those who are spiritually sick,” White-Cain said.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence also urged Christians to keep supporting the work of churches that have had to suspend physical gatherings as a result of the pandemic. Pence said they are “making the hard choice to suspend services, to have online services, even while those ministries are continuing to support food banks and come alongside of the most vulnerable.”
Jakes, in his interview, also urged people to take full advantage of technology to maintain community while in physical isolation.
“Whether, we’re streaming, whether we’re checking on people through Instagram or Twitter or what have you, we’re able to establish some level of community that we didn’t have before. And I think we have to be intentional about being connected spiritually even if we’re not connected physically, “he said.
He also pointed out that the social distancing restrictions and lockdowns triggered by the pandemic have created opportunities for families previously fractured by societal demands to take the time to reconnect.
“A lot of people are hunkered down with their families. And we don’t spend a lot of time with our families, and I think it’s a great time to reinstill your core values. To have some devotional or meditation during this time. To check on the people you love, whether you do it by phone or by text,” Jakes said.
“We have to be intentional about readjusting our values and priorities because we are shut down from work or whatever but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything to do. …Take this opportunity as a time to engage with people intentionally that we normally don’t get to spend a lot of quality time with which is very important,” he said.
For churches that have chosen to remain open, or have not been asked to close yet, Jakes urged them heed the advice of public health and government officials concerning efforts to stem community spread of the coronavirus as well.
“Every area is different. In Texas we have a state mandate that not over 10 people be assembled together and if they are assembled they have to be distant. I think that we have to obey and follow the rules as they come down from our scientists, from our doctors, and from our political powers and entities,” he said.
“The fact that we don’t engage physically, I know that that’s a loss. It’s a loss for every pastor. … But that does not mean we cannot express love, we cannot maintain some level of connectivity, and be cognizant of the fact that this is going to pass over. This is a temporary circumstance. It may be longer than we like. It may be more difficult than we like. But we have to look beyond the breach of where we are right now and remember who we are as a people,” Jakes said.