Honest question: does California hold the same group restrictions for those protesting? If not, then it’s a double standard. If they choose to cancel church gatherings on the beach because it reaches max capacity then when does protesting reach max capacity and is canceling that enforced? I won’t give up my passion to worship the God I love with others just like I wouldn’t take away someone’s right to protest against something that they believe is harming their country. So if I clearly see hypocritical law making in regards to freedom of worship then I could not in good conscience abide to that authority.
The Government vs the Huntington Beach Revival
Down through history, in times of crisis, people subordinate their freedoms to their government. Democracy takes time and trust that a crisis doesn’t afford.
We’re seeing this happen now on multiple fronts. The government is taking on trillions of dollars of new debt to try to keep the economy afloat. And across the country we are seeing wildly different responses by politicians.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered churches to close. Outdoor worship services were still allowed. So Parker and Jessi Green had the legal right to hold revival services on Huntington Beach.
The city of Huntington Beach said in a statement that it “firmly supports the right of any religious group to worship,” but that they must follow permitting and safety protocols.
Saturate OC has been conducting revival services on the beach. Hundreds are coming to the Lord and being baptized. And the question is, who gets to decide if the people showing up on the beach are doing enough mask-wearing and social distancing?
Although Saturate OC asked people to wear masks, like other people walking around on Huntington Beach, those attending seemed to do a poor job of wearing masks. What to do?
a. The health dept could offer to help ensure that people followed guidelines.
b. They could talk to the Greens and help them modify their strategies.
c. They could shut them down.
They chose option C. Along the highway, electronic road signs were programmed to read: CANCELED SATURATE OC.
“I think it’s more of a political statement that anything at this point, for people to actually shut down a worship service when there’s mass protests with hundreds of thousands of people in L.A. and then we’re getting highlighted in the news for spreading the virus,” said Parker Green.
We need to ask the question, where does this end? What if God is wanting to give us the hope in Jesus Christ that we need now. What if in fact he gave Jessi Green a vision four years ago of a revival where people repent and get baptized. What if the government was in fact shutting down a move of God?
“They kind of put us between a rock and a hard place because they’re saying churches, as a whole, that they can’t meet inside buildings because of the health codes, to go outside,” Jessi Green said. “So we’re just trying to find places to go outside to share the gospel and practice our religion, but then we’re being told the public city beach is not an option.”
“So where exactly is it OK, according to California municipalities and the state government, for me to practice my religion?” Parker Green said.
My question is not, “Should the Greens work with health officials to ensure a better protocol.” Of course they should. My question is, where does this end? In China the government shuts down meetings and locks up Christians. That is one end of the continuum. And we are on it. At what point do Christians follow the Chinese example?
Shouldn’t we as Christians be having a conversation about this?
Quotes taken from this article.
They didn’t get a permit and didn’t comply with safety regulations. They broke the rules and got shut down – that’s happening to stores, restaurants, and events all over the country. Why assume it’s political? And if it is, find another way then.
This, along with the Supreme Court decision on the Nevada church, makes me wonder about the future of religious freedom in the U.S. I do think you’re right, that we should be having those types of conversations.
We definitely need to be talking about this. It’s unacceptable to allow protests and not allow this. It’s unacceptable for us Christ followers to not stand up to this, but how do we go about it? I’m praying
Yeah – I don’t see anyone talking about that as a double standard. I do see a Church crouching in fear not knowing what to do.
Jesus told us that we need to love God and love our neighbors. So, I would ask myself, what would Jesus say is the best application of this command in our present circumstances?
Mary and I belong to a large evangelical Lutheran church. It’s a large congregation, with multiple campuses spread through central Iowa (and even Kansas City!). Our pastoral staff has decided that the best way to express our love for each other is to NOT have in-person services and stick with an on-line format for the time being. I haven’t been to an in-person service since mid-March. I also belong to a couple of different small groups (one is a centering prayer group, the other a reflection group) that meet via Zoom every week. Even though I’m not physically in the same room as the people I’m meeting and praying with, I nonetheless feel very much a part of a loving, Christ centered community.
So, again, to use the oft used phrase, “What would Jesus do?” My guess is that he would want us to keep each other safe, to practice social distancing, to avoid gathering in large crowds, and to wear masks so we minimize the chance of infecting someone else if we happen to carry the virus unknowingly.
Yeah, I know what I just said will probably agitate people because so much of what would otherwise be basic common sense has been politicized, not to mention the mixed messages our politicians and media perpetuate. But, to your question, yes, we should have a conversation about this and what our faith in Christ actually asks of us. My answer to “what would Jesus do?” is that he would tell us all to stay home, stay safe, and help those that are struggling through these uncertain times. And, I bet he would be doing this via Zoom.
“We need to ask the question, where does this end? What if God is wanting to give us the hope in Jesus Christ that we need now. What if in fact he gave Jessi Green a vision four years ago of a revival where people repent and get baptized. What if the government was in fact shutting down a move of God?” So good, Seth. We need to be eyes wide opened to what this will mean for our future.
A friend of mine said this in a recent Bible study, “Recently, the Church got a dirty slap in the face from the world. The world was in chaos and confusion and needed to redefine its essential service providers for humanity. Sadly, the Church did not make the list! Like a gang up, the Church was excluded, globally, shut down, and made to seem useless. But did we get the message?”
What are we missing and what or who is missing us? If this pandemic continues for another one or two years, and it could, when do we defy the government? Then or now? Shouldn’t our “voice” be heard in the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit? Is He gone back to heaven? Without meeting how, where, and when we are told not to, how will the power we proclaim as true be manifest in those that need it most? If we defy the orders and miracles breakout and grace our gatherings, wouldn’t that be good proof?
I think this entire episode and cultural moment is galvanizing the true church, and those who are called to be on mission. Notice minor doctrinal issues no longer divide us, but instead I see the church becoming unified against our 21st century Neros… who roam the land in abundance…
You do not quarantine healthy people.
The First Amendment is plain and simple to read and understand.
Why did our Founders come to America in the first place?
We are to love the Lord with all our heart, souls, mind and strength.
We are to love one another.
We are to spread the Gospel.
Pretty clear for all to see, now people need to act.
I going to take a different approach.
God is moving. Yes. Undoubtedly. But the church is not more unified. And revival is more then people gathering on a beach. Instead lots of the church has defined a common enemy – the state. But this is not a NEW problem for the church. This is a rather old foe. What did the early church do? What does the church in China currently do? If revival is real, you don’t need people on the beach or in stadiums – you need God moving. And God moving looks like God’s people loving each other and their enemies.
If you can’t gather on the beach, so what. If you have to wear a mask outside so what?
The American church has become fat and indulgent & we mix our Christian faith with our American ‘freedom’ ideology. big worship services doesn’t bring MORE Holy Spirit. True acts of repentance are usually small and don’t get shared on Facebook.
Please church, don’t get caught up in the blame game – vilifying the state – we are no better then Judas wishing Jesus to conduct the zealot revolution against Rome vs the revolution for our hearts.
The government shut you down. Good. Now grow another direction.
Good perspective, Constance. Hope you are well.
Yes, it is a potentially galvanizing moment for the true church. How will we respond?
Thanks Caleb. I agree – “The American church has become fat and indulgent & we mix our Christian faith with our American ‘freedom’ ideology.”
Well said, Caleb.
I think you hit the nail on the head. We are on the China continuum. It is as global as it is national and perpetuated by world views that may lend an appearance of compassion to the narrative but are decidedly anti-Christian. Historically we are in a Fourth Turning where the risk of lapsing into totalitarianism runs high. Eschatologically the birth pains Jesus described in Mat 24 are almost certainly upon us. It would appear that 1st world body of Christ is about to learn the true meaning of Luke 9:23-24.
Hopefully, soon, There are enough people who’s conviction for what is right and what is wrong will outweigh their comfort with the status quo
Seth- Your insights and questions are always challenging, enlightening, and guided by a deep faith I admire. What baffles me in our highly polarized election year environment is how quickly we are led to see things as “either/or”, “dualistic thinking”. Can’t we worship our God AND wear a mask out of concern for Christian brothers and sisters? Can’t we comply with laws intended to protect public health AND expand Kingdom? Can’t we support a concept like “Black Lives Matter” and not support a concept like “Defund the Police”? Does the headline always have to contain “vs.” ?. I believe both governments and churches are challenged today to seek new ways to achieve unity. I like to think our God is a God of “AND” not “OR”. Revival AND the wearing of a mask out of concern for others are both possible. Freedom of religion AND protection of public health are possible.
I sincerely hope and pray that Jesse and Parker’s message and work does not get lost in media images of gatherings that could spread a potentially deadly virus. They are people that care about and for others. The media images need to show that.
Very well said. I see a lack of love in the Body and somehow the Church getting intertwined with politics and the dissention that comes with it. Before we claim the government is against the church, let’s let a global pandemic pass and see if we still think that. Meanwhile, how can we love and lift up those that are suffering right now? Frontline workers, people losing loved ones, those who are tired and in anguish from the systemic racism them and their families have suffered for generations, those who are losing their homes and lost their jobs, those turning from Christ because of what they are witnessing in the Church, etc? Revivals are amazing and I hope they continue after this or in a different fashion in the mean time.
I believe those are valid and pivotal questions. According to a recent American Bible Society pole only 9% of Americans read their bible regularly and only 25% believe it is the inspired word of God. We have a huge epistemology problem that makes navigating questions pertaining to Rom 13 particularly challenging. That said, the word Holiness means “to cut” for the purpose of being setting apart. God is a this versus that God. He is also an and, then but, therefore God.
I think a lot of Christians are having a hard time determining exactly what constitutes James 4:4-5 friendship with the world. I don’t believe masks are it. But given the utterly absurd and contradictory data and standards that are being applied to churches versus abortion clinics, I understand the potential civil rights concerns on the part of many. It’s not just the masks. It’s how we are being gradually nudged toward a place we can’t see.
As for BLM that too is an epistemology issue. Any Christian who denies the principle of Imago Dei with any human being needs to repent and get born again. The issue with BLM is that the organization is by its own admission Marxist, anti family, anti Christian and seeks the overthrow of “imperialism”. That means the United States and our constitution. Personally I see the whole narrative as a Trojan horse that has been in the works since Bill Ayers began working to transform our education system from within and Cleon Skousen made his report to Congress regarding the 45 point Marxist agenda in 1963. I would invite you to look at that and compare it with current events.
As Christians we have the Truth, the context and all the tools we need. God is no respecter of persons Acts 10:34-35, race is only an issue outside of Christ we have the ministry of reconciliation. Gal 3:28-29, 2 Cor 5:16-19
The church needs to be shaping the narrative rather than simply trying to come along side secular ones. Unfortunately most churches are also businesses. Historically speaking shaping the narrative means accepting persecution which usually manifests first in the loss of financial support. That can be a hard pill to swallow.
I agree, Brian – we are in a Fourth Turning. What’s interesting is how hard it is to understand how slippery the slope we’re standing on is. We are willing to accept a depreciation of our freedoms that we feel is temporary. But historically you see that it can be hard to get those freedoms back.
Good words Uche!
This blog further proves to me that I had no business being a part of Adventures in Missions. I have spent the years since 2011 W Squad recovering from the spiritual gaslighting I experienced on the race. This blog post makes me even more sure that I have made much better choices since then. Exposing their community to a deadly disease is the opposite of caring for our neighbors. I expect better of a community I used to be proud to be a part of.
yes ma’am i couldn’t agree more!!!
Really? Are you actually serious with this take? Your whole entire messaging and life purpose is that you are helping persecuted believers around the world and specifically drill in info about places like the “10-40 window” people here are being ACTUALLY persecuted and killed. Jessi and Parker are using the # illegalchristianity hashtag meant for these people to purposefully draw attention to their own movements. This is disgusting.
They didn’t have a permit, received warnings to obtain a permit, and continued to actively encourage people to not wear masks. No leaders wore masks. People thinking this is persecution and you, Seth, writing such an incoherent blog about how it is persecution, frankly just diminishes all the work Aim claims to be doing with actual persecuted Christians around the world.
Getting shut down is not in the least political.
Jessi and Parker clearly don’t care about people meeting Jesus, or else they could have simply worn masks and continued to lead people to Jesus. Or gone online. They demonstrated that they only care about people meeting Jesus at their event, in their timing, by their own design, adding to their own numbers.
Also, the fact that you are rapidly deleting comments and blocking users from aim websites is disturbing. Clearly you only care to hear people who praise you.
I appreciate that you are not afraid to challenge.
I did block one person who was rude. I’d like to keep the conversation here cordial.
Oh and people have been offering to pay for and ship masks to this event to show that Christians actually care about the health of their neighbors, and Jessi immediately and directly told them not to. 🙂 hopefully everyone who reads this blog and blindly supports the Greens does a bit more research.
Seth, you’re drawing a comparison between anti-racism protests, when you announced to alumni, AIM was closing to join a Christian anti-racism protest in Atlanta. This makes you lose your credibility and leadership in this area. You appear untrustworthy and only care about racism when it’s trendy or good for optics. How can you inspire and active your community against racism, when you juxtapose that movement against your personal definition of church gathering and revival? I’m not sure what’s to come in this country, but if you want to be part of ending the sin of racism, this blog deeply undercuts you.
Thank you Leslie for the support! I’d love to hear your post-AIM story.
It does seem like following CDC guidelines could have helped them avoid this shut down. However, I understand double standards can be upsetting.
Even if choosing to not wear masks to prevent the spread was something agreed upon by those attending as some step of faith, I wonder if culturally following CDC guidelines might be important at a time like this. I’m not one to live in fear but I observe others worries and would like to help in any way possible. Similarly to how we have dress codes depending on the country in order to be culturally sensitive, and change our habits (e.g. touching people’s heads, removing shoes, etc) in order to be culturally sensitive, America might be at a point where if we would like to be sensitive to our own people, masks and social distancing might be the way to go.
As for double standards, all we can control is ourselves. To point fingers I think is to deny responsibility. When people are following guidelines I think it’s another story. Or, if we were having Christianity threatened as a whole. But it sounds like the event was shut down for not following CDC guidelines and being seemingly dangerous to the community. The religious aspect could’ve made it more attackable i suppose, but since i have seen the least persecution in the US that’s certainly not a conclusion i would jump to.
I don’t see negative intentions in your writing, I believe you have a good heart. I hope this comment is simply taken as perspective and not an attack.
Thanks, Calista. This is good perspective – the kind of respectful dialogue that I was looking for.
Correction here: Turns out it was two people who posted at the same time and I assumed were the same.
Oh my goodness. Did i miss your presence Courtney in Africa, Mexico, Katrina, or the heroin section of philly all stuffed to the gills with non white people? Only a few places I’ve been with Seth over the past 20 years. Glad your all “woked” and capable of real analyzing the situation with your internet skills because Seth and a lot of people have just been working in the field for decades on these issues.
Great insight. While I do see we have to wisely take our stand, let authorities know we object to the inconsistency, we should not blame or throw a fit, but see all the other opportunities to share our faith. The anxiety and fear that grips people and keep them home and angry, are opportunities to creatively be Jesus and demonstrate the love of God. Those acts make a difference. Totally agree that large crowds do not bring more Jesus or Holy Spirit. Thank you for your insight.
I’m wondering first, how we as Christians would react if the same revival of Muslims was happening at our local beach? Would we be self righteous in our actions to defend them because we wholeheartedly believe in religious freedom?
I don’t think we would. Therefore, I don’t think we really care about everyone getting to express their religious freedom, but more so ourselves.
My other consideration was intent of the government—
is it to go out of their way to oppress religious freedom OR crowd control from the largest global pandemic of our lifetime?
We have so many freedoms in this country to do whatever we want, can’t we just wear masks? We legally are forced to wear clothes and people have gotten over that mandate.
I wonder if for some it’s more of a spirit of rebellion and “don’t tell me what to do” entitlement OR even fear of the govt that would cause 1,000s to gather without spacing out or wearing masks.
I don’t think the govt should have to convince us that it’s important, by now we may all know someone who has either had covid or someone who knows someone personally who has. Some who actually have died from it. And a mask costs like $5.
My last note (I didn’t realize I had this much to say lol) is that nothing can stop God’s movement, nothing has before, so I don’t understand that side of the discussion.
Lastly, as a mom of a black son whose spent a few years living in a township in Africa, my perspective of what it’s like to be a black person has changed drastically. Now, living back in America with my black husband and black son, I’ve had to see life from their shoes and it isn’t easy living here with that skin tone. I could share stories if you’d like.
Regardless of the BLM organizations politics and what not, Black lives do in fact matter and much of the world doesn’t actually display that in their actions. Black people have been killed in broad daylight for hundreds of years in America, ESPECIALLY in the South.
Anyone unsure of my statement, just do a quick google search. You’ll see shootings, lynchings, people being dragged by cars. That’s reality, here in our land of the “free.”
So, I wanted to also mention that people aren’t protesting for better wages, they’re protesting to stop being murdered or locked up senselessly.
Because of that, I don’t see how gathering in the name of Jesus, although awesome, is the same as gathering to say “hey, please stop killing us now, we’ve asked a 1,000 different ways, this is literally our last resort.”
Prayerfully, with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmed, we can fight these legal battles with better success.