THE STUPID STUFF WE SAY ABOUT COVID-19

Posted on: 05/26/20 7:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Four Statements Christians Really Need to Rethink

Pastors are making huge decisions this week, the choice to resume worship as normal, or wait a little longer… or somewhere in between. This means filtering through all the “spin” that everyone is spewing right now.

This post has no spin.

I have no political or religious agenda.

I’m just tired of hearing people make important decisions without all the facts. You can’t just read the headlines.

Here’s four statements I continue to hear out of people’s mouths that really need rethinking…  (and the research you need to see)

1. “Doctors say masks really don’t help.”

I understand the confusion, and it’s frustrating. But the fact is… it’s just not true.

Read carefully.

When I first saw ignorant emails being forwarded around mid-March, I went to two places to find truth, and I have to admit, I was highly disappointed. I went on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and the CDC and read both their instructions in detail. The first thing both these sites said was something like, “masks won’t protect you.” (Some of the first words out of their mouth on the WHO website video is still, “Medical masks like this one cannot protect against the new Coronavirus when used alone.”)

But that wasn’t the complete truth…and here’s why.

Whenever people in power talk, they don’t really communicate what needs to be said, instead they communicate what they think people need to hear, and sadly what “can’t be used against us” later. Both WHO and the CDC made a huge mistake here. These websites were both practicing CYA. Plus, masks were in short supply for health workers. So it’s probably best to tell people they don’t need them, right?

Both sites conveyed, “Masks don’t help.” And since most people read no further than the headlines, immediately I began hearing people saying, “Masks don’t work anyway.”

Here’s the thing. If people would have kept reading, even back then they would have found the following truths:

1. Both sites recommended from the beginning that if you are going to be in the vicinity of someone with COVID-19, wear a mask. (But wait… I thought they didn’t work?) Then both sites also said that you never know who has COVID—19. Hmmmm.

2. Both sites said masks aren’t good if you get COVID-19 on your hands, then touch your face while removing your mask. So wash your hands!  And learn how to take on and take off a mask.

3. Both sites said masks are good in that they actually keep most people from touching their face.

And here’s the thing: Now on the WHO website you’ll see it says:

Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Read that again. Masks are effective….Uh… that means masks work.

And now the CDC website posted the following update:  (emphasis mine)

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

Bottom line: when you’re going out to the grocery store, please just put on a mask (my daughter made some cool ones with dinosaurs on them). And if you’re going to go in a church building with other people…wear a mask.

Speaking of going to church, that brings up the second statement we need to rethink…

2. “The government is just trying to suppress religion. They allow marijuana dispensaries to stay open, but they aren’t allowing people to worship.”

Oh man. We’re opening a can of worms here, so let me be very clear (and again, I’m going to show you several helpful studies).

I don’t like marijuana dispensaries (and no, I’m not against your aunt getting medicinal marijuana when she got “the cancer”, I’m against college students smoking a bowl every morning because they claim it’s helping their stress. More on that here in my article, Just One Thing Your Kids Need to know about Weed.)

The point is, don’t let our frustrations effect our wise judgement.

Here’s the facts. Whether you like smoke shops or not, typically a person can go into one wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and then leave. Just like CVS (except CVS doesn’t give you the munchies).

Church is much more like a concert or ball game. You’re sitting right next to someone for an hour, you’re talking or singing or shouting, all indoors. (And yes, if you’re already getting amped up and saying we can solve each of these, I agree with you… just hold on).

If you don’t realize how serious this is, look at several examples, like the Skagit County Washington choir practice, as reported by the CDC. (And if you’re going to open your church, PLEASE read this study in full)(and yes, I’m quick to forgive the CDC for their earlier impass). 

The short of it is, one person was symptomatic in a 122-member choir, and eventually 53 people became ill, three were hospitalized and two died. And in case you’re skeptical about the validity of the 53, I encourage you to read the report, because 33 of them were confirmed, and 20 probable (and even 33 is huge).

The CDC study reads: “The 2.5-hour singing practice provided several opportunities for droplet and fomite transmission, including members sitting close to one another, sharing snacks, and stacking chairs at the end of the practice.” The study goes into even greater detail.

This isn’t a fluke example. In fact, The CDC reported about another church in rural Arkansas where 2 symptomatic people attended church, later who tested positive for COVID-19. 35 of the 92 attendees got COVID-19, and three died. Sadly, it didn’t stop at the church doors. An additional 26 cases linked to the church occurred in the community, including one death.

And these churches aren’t alone.

Bottom line: we need to rethink the way we do church while COVID-19 is still a threat. And yes, I understand that the Coronavirus was much more rampant in March, which is when many of these examples happened. But consider this: in each of these situations it only took 1 or 2 people.

Are you willing to bet the lives of your congregation?

Yes, I know life is full of risks.

Yes, I know that it’s not fair that gun shops and churches are closed, and smoke shops are open.

But that doesn’t change the facts. I’m not saying don’t do church. Do it. But you need to rethink the way you’re going to do church this coming Sunday (in the same way the world is seriously postponing and rethinking the way they do large events), which leads me to the third statement we need to reconsider…

3. “I don’t care what anyone says, we’re going to sing this Sunday.”

Our governor in California laid out guidelines for churches this week and one of them was “no singing.” If you just read the above reports, you see why. But for some reason this is a point of contention for many. Some of you might have seen some viral videos this week of people speaking out about this (some from people who are typically dogmatic on issues, speaking first, thinking later…)

Here’s the thing: If any doctor were to truly read the above CDC reports about church, I know they would recommend the following to be safe: (And I’ll keep it simple)

1. People need to wear masks. Period.

2. No singing. 

3. Practice social distancing.

4. No communion, snacks, eating or drinking of any kind.

5. Have hand sanitizer widely available.

Are these logistical messes? Yes. But that’s okay.

And honestly, I think if churches have the option, it’s probably even smarter to meet outside rather than in a petri dish… I mean… building.

And finally, I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard this one…

4. “We’re done with this. We’re not social distancing anymore.”

Last week I was shopping for my family. I have three “high risk” people on our property, two people over 75 and a pregnant woman. So I’ve been wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing every time I go to the grocery store.

Less than half the people in my community wear masks.

Last week I was in the grocery store and a dad and his 7-year-old son (both unmasked) came down the same isle as me, got so close to me he literally brushed up against me, and then they went on their way. I watched them and they did the same to others. Their body language was reeking, “Get out of our way. This whole COVID thing is stupid.”

A little reminder: We are almost at 100,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. alone.

Sorry to inconvenience you, sir.

Guess what. If you don’t want to wear a mask, I can’t make you. But if you’re rubbing up next to people unmasked, it only takes once. Again… your risk. But if you are now a carrier, you might not even know it, and you are now “forcing” others to engage in that risk with you.

Just to be clear. I think we need to be proactively reopening businesses, surgeries, etc. But we need to get rid of this attitude of, “I’m done with this.”

“It’s no big deal.” I’ve heard some say.

Tell that to my friend who lost both his parents to COVID-19.

This Sunday churches have an opportunity to show wisdom and grace to their congregation and their community. Don’t look back a month from now and regret saying something in ignorance.

Don’t kill your congregation

Posted on: 04/2/20 7:38 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Dare I write, don’t be an idiot.

It’s scriptural.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (I Peter 2: 12)

What does “honorable behavior” mean during these times? 

It means don’t be the fool who still insists churches keep meeting together during the Coronavirus when Continue reading “Don’t kill your congregation” »

Is evangelism shrinking across the U.S.

Posted on: 09/13/18 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Which states in the U.S. are full of the most committed Christians… and which aren’t?

And how are those numbers changing?

Many of us have read articles about the decreasing amount of believers in the U.S.– like this fascinating Washington Post article a few years back displaying 22 different maps of various religious groups and their influence in the U.S., or this one about weekly church attendance.

I find it interesting to see how this translates to youth ministry. Continue reading “Is evangelism shrinking across the U.S.” »

How to Lose Volunteers Quickly

Posted on: 02/15/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

One of the Ways Churches Chew Up and Spit Out Volunteers

Have you ever been confronted, criticized or “corrected” for something you did as a volunteer?

Yesterday a good friend of mine called me up discouraged like I’ve never seen him before. He was beyond angry. He was hurt.

This guy launched a discipleship ministry at his church that has exploded in growth. People are being discipled and are actually excited about digging into scripture (he has a Bible study where people are spending hours a week reading on their own). He’s not paid to do this, he’s a volunteer Continue reading “How to Lose Volunteers Quickly” »

Alone

Posted on: 04/24/17 8:09 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday I sat in a restaurant on my drive back from a speaking engagement and voices grew loud behind me.

“You don’t understand!”

“I understand perfectly. You’re failing.”

The voices were growing loud enough that people at other tables were pausing and awkwardly looking over at the commotion.

I snuck a glance. A teenage boy, probably 16 or 17-years-old, was typing on his phone, trying his best to ignore his mom while she sat across the table from him with her arms crossed Continue reading “Alone” »

When Teens Doubt

Posted on: 04/4/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s sad, but I hear it more and more each year.

Every weekend at my parent workshops I get at least one question about it… and I constantly receive emails asking the same thing:

What do I do when my teenager tells me they don’t believe in God?

Here’s an email I just received:

Jonathan,

Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and advice! We are taking it all to heart in raising our teens. The question I have is, how do you apply these strategies in your book with a 16 year old who has decided she doesn’t believe in God the way you’ve taught her? She is not going to have the same moral compass you’re wanting her to make decisions from . . . Continue reading “When Teens Doubt” »

Poor Leadership 101

Posted on: 11/23/15 6:54 AM | by Jonathan McKee

No-KidsThe youth ministry was fizzling out and no one knew why.

It was as simple as this: kids weren’t meeting Jesus, and the ones that already knew Jesus weren’t growing. As a result the group had sputtered and was on the verge of dying.

If it were a horse it would have been put down.

This past year I have had the opportunity to spend time with Continue reading “Poor Leadership 101” »

How Christians React to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Posted on: 07/7/15 5:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The dust (and pink confetti) is slowly settling since the June 26th Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states. The question is, how are Christians responding?

Barna released a fascinating glimpse last week revealing that not only Americans, but different denominations land all over the spectrum on this issue. For example, 53% of Catholics favor the Supreme Court’s decision (strongly or somewhat), where only 2% of Barna’s definition of an Evangelical favor the decision. At the same time, most the country seems to agree this decision was inevitable.

Barna breaks it down nicely on this chart Continue reading “How Christians React to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage” »

Growing After Graduation

Posted on: 05/12/15 8:44 AM | by Jonathan McKee

growing-in-faithRemember all that hype about the 5%?

I think I heard it like this. “Do you know that only 5% of Christian students actually keep their faith when they graduate from high school?”

Really? 5%?

Someone said it once, printed it, and it became “research.” I’ve heard all kinds of numbers, some of them unbelievable, some of them from solid research and really sobering. But numbers aside, anyone who has worked in youth ministry for any length of time can attest to one undeniable truth: too many kids walk away from their faith, stop plugging in with other believers or stop attending church after high school.

So that begs the question, how do we help kids grow in their faith so they continue their faith journey, growing and fellowshipping after graduation? Continue reading “Growing After Graduation” »

Tim Hawkins Greatest Bits

Posted on: 04/7/14 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Christian Comedian Tim Hawkins kills me!

I first heard him at an event we spoke at together. He had the crowd rolling on the floor! Tim’s really good at helping us laugh at ourselves. Hilarious.

In December he put out a greatest hits DVD… the first 6 minutes are on YouTube. I couldn’t resist sharing this with you.

(Click here for the video if you can’t see it embedded)

He has the DVD available on his site.

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