Pastors in the year 2020 have never done the work of leading through a time of pandemic.
Congregations in the year 2020 have never done the work of being the Body of Christ during a time of pandemic.
We are all stretched and pained by this time of distance.
I am a pastor. I have lived this pandemic ministry life for nine months.
Below are some of the things this time has made powerfully clear.
Worship is the work of the people.
When there are no visible people to share Spirit energy with – no noisy children, no attentive elders, no nodding-off distracted and pensive ones, no people to dance through sermons and prayers and song – engaging in worship is an act of faith. The worship leader has to trust that others are finding Spirit through worship. This we believe: Hearts are joined across miles.
Preaching to a camera is a lonely thing.
Surround your pastor with signs of your presence. Send cards and emails. Let your pastor and other worship leaders know that you are doing the work of worship from your homes and hearts. There is no “nice sermon, pastor” hand-shaking line after worship. There are no eyes that connect. Sermons are launched into the cyber sphere with hopes they will land in hearts.
If a sermon lands, please let your pastor know.
Empty buildings amplify loss.
Every time your pastor enters your church, they are reminded that you are not there. This hurts. You are woven into the heart of your pastor as well as into the walls of your church building. Day by day the work of the church goes on. Your staff and a very small number of carefully masked and distanced volunteers come and go. But you and your children and your stories and your souls are not in the space and your pastor feels that loss every time she comes through the door.
Pray for your pastor and your church in such a way that the walls feel plumped by the Spirit. It matters. It matters deeply.
Financial support is sign act.
Give. Give something. The lights are on, the staff depends on your commitment in order to minister on behalf of your church. Being a disciple of Jesus is not a transactional commitment. Being a disciple of Jesus means we promise to support our church with our prayers, presence, witness, service, and gifts. Your financial support is indication that you are aware that the work of the Spirit is even now unfolding through your church.
The church is not the building.
This is of course the right thing to say. It eases the pain of distance. And, it is true. The church is your living room and the church is the Spirit of God loose in ICUs and care facilities. We are the church. Together. Now more than ever, this is precious good news.
This time of separation will have an end.
We are being shaped and taught by this pandemic. Lessons learned will deserve a lifetime of unpacking. Each and all of us deserve care and feeding instructions articulated for those with whom we share life.
Somehow, into the real pain that all of us are feeling in this time, it felt important to name the pains of this pastor.
Thanks for listening.