As a faith community, we struggle at times to know the right thing to do. Your pastor is at the forefront of this response. His decisions are weighed, judged, encouraged or maybe even criticized. But this is no time for us to be divided. When a crisis hits that we did not expect, we need to step up your prayers and operate by faith. Whether it is a war, natural disaster, epidemic or a pandemic, crises hit us when we least expect it. It is in these moments that pastors and people must be one. How can you be one with your pastor? How can we come alongside and be an encouragement to them? As a pastor for 33 years, let me suggest several ways you can pray for your pastor.
- Bathe him in prayer. Prayer should not be the last resort; it should be the first option. While some of us are rightfully concerned about our families, a pastor has to be concerned about the church family as a whole. Your pastor is a shepherd. He has to lead the sheep and make sure the fold is safe and secure. As much as it is within his power to do so, he needs your prayers for grace, strength, wisdom and courage.
- Pray for his family. They are under the same stress you’re under, but they also have to share their husband and their dad with others in need. Ask God to keep them safe, calm any fears and use this time to bring them closer to each other and to Him.
- Pray about what you can do to help. Could you volunteer to come up and sanitize the preschool area? Could you deliver food or gift cards to church families in need? Could you offer to fill in for senior adults who are at risk? Many of these senior adults faithfully serve, and the pastor and church will need more helping hands.
- Pray specifically for decisions regarding church gatherings. Some churches will choose to cancel all events. Some will ask their members to come if they feel comfortable coming. Some will move to online services. Pastors will need wisdom to know when to pull the plug on anything related to the church family, and they will set the tone for how the church reacts and responds. Pray that God will order their steps and their stops, and that fear is not the driving force in decision making.
- Pray for unity. As our response team at Sherwood has developed our plans on how to respond to this crisis, we’ve consistently said we need to be in agreement. Pray that the staff and church leadership will be unified.
- Pray for the pastor as he will be called on to help in the community. When a crisis hits, historically, city leaders, first responders and church leaders join together to see how to best help their communities. When the groundwork of trust has been laid, faith leaders are essential in times of crisis in their community. Pastors often find themselves with added responsibilities for which they feel inadequate. Ask the Lord to keep them safe and open doors for the hope of the gospel.
- Pray for his health. We need pastors on the front lines as much as possible, but the stress level can be high in moments like this. Ask God to protect your pastor’s health as he comes in contact with so many people during the course of a week.
Michael Catt is the Senior Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga
Published March 13, 2020