An American pastor said that church leaders have a responsibility before God, despite COVID restrictions imposed by governments.
In an interview with Stephen Strang on "Strang Report" podcast, published by Charisma News, Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in California shared that ministry leaders, including himself, have cooperated with authorities during lockdowns when the pandemic hit, but also ensured maintaining the values "as leaders of a church family."
Church leaders were forced with the government's control measures but have succeeded in the end. Johnson revealed that he saw how the glory of God came to his church after restrictions in the state were relaxed.
He said that his congregation started to meet again after the government began "to open up a bit". They put up tents and every night, they would gather for prayer meetings.
"Hundreds and hundreds of people would show up, and God has provided breakthrough for us. We are back in corporate gatherings-at about 50% capacity-and we're inching our way toward full capacity," the pastor added.
Johnson pointed out that church leaders "have a responsibility before God" to warn people which have to be done with grace, kindness and love.
"It's just a mandate that we have from the Lord, to represent Him well with what you do. If we've been called into the positions we're in, we need to love people well and serve them well, and to give them instructions on how to do life," he continued.
He was surprised that during the pandemic, the church was deemed "nonessential" by the government, imposing fines on churches for holding worship services.
He said that they were "warned [by] the Lord to get into the system and not be afraid of politics and politicians."
"We have worked really hard with our local authorities to do what is responsible in this pandemic. We've walked in good standing with the city and had good counsel with the health leaders. We've tried to be responsible citizens, but also responsible for the Lord to love people and serve them well. It's been our approach to honor city government because we have meaningful relationships there. But, most importantly, we must be honorable to serve the church well, and that's what we've committed ourselves to do," he further stated.
He shared that though other churches continued to meet in the Redding area, the media focused on Bethel Church because it is a high profile one, criticizing every action the observers thought was inappropriate.
"We felt that our responsibility was to follow the policies the best way we knew how, but also to make our presence known and to train our people to have their meetings in their homes. And so, we ignored all policies that said people couldn't meet in homes and that sort of thing. We actually worked hard to support or to fuel or empower the people to meet in homes, and we've had tremendous breakthrough as a result," he also said.
During the lockdowns, Bethel Church was livestreaming its services. Johnson said that they have "Bethel TV" and Youtube channel, with 500,000 people signing up for the TV. The pastor disclosed that a lot of people shared that their lives have been changed just by watching the church's online services.
He also revealed that many of their staff in the church, including his wife, have experienced being cancelled by having their social media accounts taken down, simply by showing support to President Trump or the Supreme Court, which the Big Tech considered as "hate speech."
Asked how the Church and Christians could stand up against the government's rules on outlawing some teachings in the Bible, the minister replied that it would depend on "who is in charge" but is "deeply concerned" with the "goals and ambitions" of the current regime, which he said is trying to work into making the Bible labeled as "hate speech."
He also said that the Church must stop the notion that it should not be involved in politics.
He criticized some of the government's legislations today, which he said are considered "insanity" 10 years ago, citing the introduction of transgenderism to children without parents' consent, as an example.
Johnson stated that Christians must make their voices heard. They should not just criticize but also bring solutions to make their cities better, which he said is their approach as a Church.
In the interview, Strang uncovered that he will be releasing his new book, "God and Cancel Culture: Stand Strong Before It's Too Late," which will be available on Sep. 7.