I can’t speak for you, but I thought I had written the last Covid-related blog post here several weeks ago. I thought, perhaps naively, that we were breaking through the clouds and were on our way to a post-Covid world—not that we were once again entering a time of rising cases, hospitalizations and more deaths.
I’ve watched as pastors mourned the loss of church members, friends and family members. I’ve seen countless friends post that they tested positive, and I’ve prayed that they experience a mild case.
I’ve also seen anger and frustration on social media that seems to be outpacing what we saw during the worst moments of the pandemic in 2020. Even though I’m not currently pastoring a local church, I feel for pastors who are once again navigating these sensitive topics.
As our nation and world continue to wade through a myriad of issues related to the pandemic and politics, it seems there are landmines everywhere for pastors to navigate around. I hope to offer a bit of guidance that I learned, and to remind you of the one hope we have.
1. Don’t fall for distractions
As I mentioned above, we are facing countless issues that are deeply dividing our nation and, sadly, even our churches: Masks. Vaccines. Afghanistan. Refugees. The border. Abortion funding. The climate. Each of these is important, but none of them is ultimate. I believe the Enemy would much rather have churches—especially churches—arguing over these issues than proclaiming the gospel. Don’t fall for that trap. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus.
2. Don’t give into discouragement
I’m saddened every time I hear from a pastor who is losing church members because their church took (or didn’t take) a certain stance on masks or vaccines. It hurts to see pastors hurting when they lose folks to a church across town who resumed some activities faster than they (or their ministry leaders) felt comfortable with. Everywhere we look, it seems there are issues that can divide us. The reality is that some people may leave over decisions that you’ve made that have nothing whatsoever to do with proclaiming the gospel. These struggles, while real, are temporary. If I could go back and tell myself one thing in 2020, it would be this point: Don’t get discouraged over decisions that are made with folks’ best interest at heart.
3. Don’t lose your direction
The Great Commission doesn’t take a hiatus because we are living through yet another wave of a pandemic. Yes, some (if not many, or maybe even most) outreach opportunities may look different than they did prior to March 2020, but outreach still can occur. Your church’s primary task still is to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world.
There are many landmines to lead through in these days. I wish I had the wisdom to tell you exactly how to navigate each one, but the truth is that each church is unique in the issues and challenges that will arise.
The one word of wisdom I can give, though, comes from a passage that has been a source of strength for me for many years, before and after 2020:
Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:1-2 CSB)
Pastor, I’m praying that you and your congregation will keep your eyes squarely focused on Jesus in these days. If the Replant Team can help in any way as you lead, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are lifting you up in prayer and rooting hard for you!
Published August 25, 2021