There are plenty of blogs and social media posts out there with news about the virus. There are plenty of bloggers taking to this format to tell you what you should and/or should not do. There are plenty of posts about activities and ways to occupy children and the whole family. This post is none of the above. I wanted to take a wee moment to share what it’s like pastoring during this virus and the effects that it has on ‘normal ministry’.
Let me be perfectly honest; this virus has me worried. It has me worried because I can’t see the people I would normally see. I can’t gather with my church family in the normal way and there are many people stuck indoors with nothing but their thoughts and temptations. Thankfully we serve a Saviour who knows our worries and who intercedes for his people.
But the reality is that this virus has made ministry more difficult. Church services are all online, thank the Lord that we have this ability, but it just feels weird! I recently recorded my sermon, in the empty church, to be played as part of our service on Sunday morning. I was preaching to a camera, I couldn’t see the congregation I love. I couldn’t see their faces as they respond to the teaching of God’s Word. I couldn’t see the faces of the people who might need more prayer and who I need to touch base with. But worst of all, I couldn’t hug those who need it.
Pastors, this may be your first ever live service or sermon (it was mine), do not be discouraged! The service does not need to be slick, it does not need to be perfect. The important thing is that the people of God are hearing and being taught the Word of God. Don’t crumble under the pressure to be something you’re not and don’t get used to it! This should feel weird because the local church is supposed to meet together, in person. I hope that this whole ordeal will shake up the Church to wake up from the comfort that we’re caught in. I pray that it would stir us to see again, afresh, the beauty and necessity of the local church and the privilege we have of gathering weekly. I pray that this time would grow in us a greater love for the church and a deep longing and eager anticipation to meet together again.
We live in a technologically rich age, we can stream services, have services and prayer meetings online and do pastoral care whilst not being in the same room. But it’s hard for me, as a pastor, because I love the people. I want to see them, I want to sit with them, I want to listen to them and I want to put my hand on them and pray. I know that one day this will all be a distant memory and life will return to normal again, but right now keep praying for your pastor as he’s probably feeling the same.
Your pastor is probably thinking about, praying for and worrying about a hundred different situations going on or things that he must prepare for during this time. Weddings, funerals, meetings, 1-1s, discipleship, fellowship, pastoral care, visitations, giving, sermons, sermon series, small groups, prayer meetings, etc. all of these things have been affected by the virus. Pray for your pastor because with all those things on his mind he continues to care for you, to pray for you and to ‘do ministry’ for the Lord with you in mind.
Encourage your pastor after the service today, in whatever shape or form it took, thank him and all involved for their work in putting the service together. Pray for their protection, physically and spiritually, as they continue to care for the flock.
Pray for wisdom for Christians. The temptation might be to tune into the ‘big names’. There is nothing wrong with that, but the reality is that they are not your pastor and their church isn’t your church. The internet gives us tons of sound and biblical information, sermons, podcasts and so on, but it give us just as much (if not more) rubbish. Pray that Christians would use wisdom and discernment as they sit to listen to sermons. Pray that they would tune into their local church, that they would be challenged and comforted by God’s Word. Pray that they would enjoy ‘gathering’ with their local church to worship the Lord.
Thank the Lord that even though we have no idea what is going on, He is in control. Thank the Lord that even in times of uncertainty, He is faithful. Thank the Lord that no virus or thing on this earth can separate us from the love of God. Thank the Lord that we have the privilege to come before Him in prayer and serve Him with our lives. God is good.