“Every day [the believers] continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shook the Christian community and closed church doors all over San Diego. Stay-at-home orders forced Christian fellowship to look much different than it did just over one year ago. Even as some San Diego churches resume in-person services and even move them indoors, religious gatherings no longer look like the picture depicted in Acts 2. However, recent shifts move the circumstances closer to the biblical model of “meeting at the Temple Courts.”
After the Supreme Court deemed California’s ban of religious gathering unconstitutional, several San Diego churches reopened indoor services. Three popular churches that responded to this decision are the Rock Church, All Peoples Church and Saddleback Church San Diego.
The Rock Church announced on its website it will relaunch indoor services beginning on Apr. 18 at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
“We are calling this a RELAUNCH because we believe that God is doing a new thing in the Rock Church as we transition back indoors,” their website states. “God has done a deep work in our midst during this year of transitions and challenges, and we have learned how to be resilient disciples.”
Saddleback Church San Diego will reopen on Palm Sunday. Located at Canyon Crest Academy, Saddleback will require congregants to register for indoor services.
“I’m super stoked that Saddleback Church is reopening,” said congregant and church Brian Dejesus. “I can’t wait to join in authentic fellowship with my family in Christ at a safe distance. God worked on me in different ways that initially I didn’t recognize. God taught me patience by revealing to me that I would need to wait a long time before meeting with more people than my small group; I had no control over the situation.”
“I learned that what I wanted was not necessarily what I needed through the hard troubles that came through quarantine,” Dejesus added. “Despite the trials, I’m thankful for this chapter of my life and I’m excited for the next chapter in person.”
All Peoples Church has held outdoor services since the summer of 2020. Currently, they maintain the same system of having outside services in a big tent with congregants practicing COVID-19 procedures like mandatory masks. They still film their services online for congregants who may not feel comfortable attending an in-person gathering.
All Peoples Church is popular among many PLNU students, even during the past year of the coronavirus. When asked about preference regarding pre-pandemic indoor services versus pandemic-era outdoor services, two student congregants of All Peoples Church had different responses.
“I like it to be dark during worship, but it’s bright outside,” said Lincoln Gillette, a PLNU junior and residential assistant. “Some of the rows of chairs are on a slant because the parking lot is not level. But those are small things. I have been thankful we have been able to meet face-to-face. It also seems like it is easier to hang out and talk with people after the service because there is more space among the chairs outside than there was inside.”
“I like outside church better because it is COVID-friendly and has more space for people,” said Trevor Tillman, a senior theology major. “I also like that you can see people better and have more opportunities to socialize with people.”
By: Derek Bonnema