Before we vent our criticism regarding the churchgoers in Urk and Krimpen aan den IJssel, we should note that they have understood one thing very well. Regular church attendance is not a luxury extra for Christians, but an essential part of the Christian experience. Of course, faith is a personal matter, but believing is also a communal experience. That is why we we speak of a faith community. It is a thoroughly biblical fact that as believers we have a strong bond with fellow believers and that worshiping and singing together, and listening to the Word, is very essential.
But it was unwise of the congregations in Urk and Krimpen to ignore the Corona Rules and not to accept that, as long as the pandemic is not under control, we must content ourselves with digital church services. Church communities have a responsibility to their congregation and to all the people their members come into contact with. The argument that, despite the fact that more than 500 people were together, the one-and-a-half-meter rule was properly adhered to and other precautions were taken, does not stand up. It could have been foreseen that the strategy that was followed would lead to a lot of commotion and that the press would pounce on this “news” in large numbers.
This in itself was reason enough to fear that the reputation of the Church (and not only that of these Reformed denominations) would be seriously damaged. The damage to the church’s imago was made all the worse by the fact that some members of the church violently tried to chase away the journalists who were reporting on the event. It is easy to imagine that throughout the country there are people who, when looking at the television images, see this as confirmation of what they have long thought, namely that Christians are hypocrites who talk very piously, but in practice do not act like Christians. And this is somewhat understandable when they see people going to church who, before entering, kick and punch journalists, or even run into them with their car.
The reputation of the Christian church has suffered a lot in the recent past. We can think especially of the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church (but also in other churches). People quickly forget that the great majority of priests and pastors are beyond reproach. But nonetheless, many people still have the idea that the majority of the clergy are hypocrites.
The pastors and the church boards in Urk and Krimpen should have realized that their actions have seriously damaged the reputation of their church and of their fellow-Christians. And that also means that the name of God has been seriously discredited.
Every Christian community should remember that people are watching how Christians behave, and that Christians should literally honor their name, i.e. honor the name of the Christ whom they profess as their Lord. And this, of course, applies to every man and woman who call himself or herself Christian. No one should expect Christians to always be perfect, but if they behave in a peremptory manner that is not Christian, they damage the reputation of the Church and thus also the reputation of the Lord of the Church.