God Opened the Door: California Pastor Shane Idleman’s Church Will Meet in a Stadium That Holds Thousands
California Governor Gavin Newsom may not want churches to meet in their buildings or sing worship songs during the coronavirus outbreak, but that doesn’t stop one pastor an hour’s drive from Los Angeles from holding services.
Pastor Shane Idleman’s church of about 700 will now meet outside — in their local AAA baseball stadium in Lancaster. It holds 4,000 people.
A ‘God Thing’
Starting July 25, for at least the next couple of months, Westside Christian Fellowship will meet at the JetHawks’ stadium, Saturday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Pastor Shane says it is a “God thing.”
“It just kind of fell into our lap. The City of Lancaster, the council members, wanted to be a blessing. Want[ed] to help the churches get the message out there. So that does help when you have a city that is on the side of truth.” The governor isn’t pro-church or pro-God, but the city council is.
It’s important to meet physically, even if live streaming is available. “There’s something special about uniting corporately and worshiping God corporately. The Scripture is clear on that. Do not forsake the assemblying together.”
A Balancing Act
One of the hardest balancing acts for pastors in California particularly, is the degree to which they obey the government but also “not being ‘handcuffed’ with regard to worship and seeking God and praying and being together.” What’s that line? “See, that’s really the pickle, because some people say the governor already crossed that line and we should meet in our buildings, who cares what he says.” As for his church, they’re social distancing and practicing what the government has mandated, but he’s aware that the governor may go too far. He said:
We’re saying, ‘Hey, Governor, we respect your authority. We’re gonna do this, but there might come a point where you push too much. If you start requiring too much, it becomes clear that this is now an agenda.’ So, we can still worship. We can worship outside. … But if they start to say no gatherings again or worship, then I think that’s when we have a problem. Plus when he said there’s no singing in church, we just had to let that go in one ear and out the next because that’s ridiculous.
Churches should make decisions on where and how to worship on a case-by-case basis. “For example, a friend of mine, Jack Hibbs, in Riverside, their county is more flexible than we are here in L.A. County. And then if you get up north, there’s a lot more flexibility because the virus rates are really low. So it depends on where you’re at, what the scenario is.”
Pastor Shane recently spoke with radio host Janet Mefferd on Janet Mefferd Today. “Rest assured, we’re not allowing the governor to tell us how to do church, where to do church, when to do church, but we are being strategic in what we’re doing and seeking godly counsel through Christian attorneys.”
A Spirit of Revival
The church doesn’t know what to expect when the stadium opens on Saturday, but Pastor Shane hopes it will spark a revival. “Christians are passionate about getting out and worshiping God. I can definitely sense a spirit of revival happening in California.” Recently, another church held a worship service at Huntington Beach and over 1,000 people showed up to worship God. “We kind of feel the same thing could be happening here with the stadium.”
Revival is God awakening His church, and that’s not predictable. But God can do miraculous things. “God will bring [the event] wherever He wants to. He’ll just break all kinds of natural rules, you know, man-made rules and things that we thought were impossible.” He added that it’s hard to put a time limit on when his church will have services at the stadium. “But we’re just going to be open to whatever God wants to do in this whole event.”
God is Still in Control
During the cultural upheaval and the coronavirus outbreak, America seems to be falling apart. Pastor Shane wants to remind people that God is still on the throne and nothing will stop His plan and purposes for these events. “He will use this, I believe, to awaken His church and we will see just a great spiritual revival happening, even in the midst of darkness.”
The church hopes to broadcast the stadium services live. If so, you can watch it by liking Westside Christian Fellowship. You can also watch on Facebook here, or subscribe to their YouTube channel here.
Pastor Shane’s latest book, If My People: In Case Of National Emergency, Read This, was released earlier this month.