There are so many things that have happened in 2020 that have been hard, as a result of COVID19. Thousands upon thousands of people have sadly lost their lives. Countries and citizens all over the world have been hit hard financially because of the virus. People have felt lonely, some even feel abandoned. The church has been trying to figure out this new way of doing ministry. It hasn’t been easy. But I think that there is a hidden problem too…
The reality is that the pandemic took us all by surprise. We had to close our buildings, figure out guidelines, learn how to make online services happen and care for people from a distance. As I’ve spoken with pastors, read articles, listened to church members and others, I’ve heard of 2 issues that COVID19 has brought up.
1. The Haters Are Out in Force.
There have always been people who have stood outside the church and thrown stones at her. There have always been people who have used everything as an excuse to condemn churches and church leaders. There have always been voices calling people out of the ‘institutional church’ or ‘established church’.
The reason given is normally that churches are too preoccupied with functioning to actually be biblical. Whilst that can be the case with some, I don’t think it’s the majority. But I always find it interesting that those who throw stones are normally calling other to join their own movement or ‘church’.
COVID19 seems to have handed this group of people a megaphone and they’re having fun. I’ve seen people command churches to shut their doors, because “that’s why God sent the pandemic”. Sadly there are people who don’t agree with their church’s approach to the government’s guidelines and they buy into this group. Sadly there are people who are walking away from their churches.
I used to have a lecturer who would always say “be careful how you speak of the church for she is the bride of Christ”. That has always stuck with me. It doesn’t mean we don’t speak out about issues. It doesn’t mean that we skip over problems in the church. But it certainly means that we don’t throw stones at our brothers and sisters simply because they’re doing things differently.
COVID19 will pass, but the church will remain. The haters too will pass, but the church will remain.
Constantly criticising from the sidelines is not helpful or right. If you can help, get involved. Offer to help, not because you have all the answers, but because you want to see people saved and the bride of a Christ grow in strength and maturity.
Be wise, be careful who you listen to and discern if what they are saying is in-line with the Bible and if it is glorifying to God.
2. You Can Never Do Enough.
Nobody was prepared for everything that has happened this past year. No one, at least that I know of, imagined that 2020 would turn out like it did. Pastors and church leaders are not trained on how to do ministry in a pandemic. It has been a massive learning curve for everyone.
Almost every pastor I’ve spoken to is working so hard to care for their flock and make Sundays accessible. But at the same time almost ever pastor I’ve spoken to is also discouraged because they’re being told, maybe not directly, that they’re not doing enough.
Pastors are trying their hardest to care for people, to call them and meet them wherever they can. Trying to lead a church through a turbulent time. Trying to equip the saints, share the gospel, plan for the future and ensure that they’re being wise.
And yet the inboxes pile up with unhappy people, the discouragements come in little comments and the frustrations are released on the pastor. No matter how hard you work, it never seems to be enough.
People are zoomed out. Workers are getting cabin fever. People are cooped up in their houses. People feel alone.
Friends, your pastor feels the same way. He might be trying his hardest. He is most likely struggling himself. Pastors struggle with the same things you do. Remember that before you send that email, before you write that text or before that conversation.
There is always more that can be done in ministry. Make sure that you’re not whipping your pastor to the point where he breaks. Yes, he is called to care for the church, but the church is also called to care for him.
COVID19 has brought many problems, let’s make sure that we don’t contribute to it in unhelpful ways.