I have no idea what I’m doing. I never took a class in seminary about pastoring a church through a global pandemic. I don’t have the technological capacity to make a slick live video service. I barely can load a video to social media for my church each week.
My understanding of faithful pastoral ministry is tied intimately to physical presence; so, I have had to rethink completely what it means to be a pastor right now. I have no idea how to lead in this unique circumstance.
I already feel better confessing that to you.
We are finite
Our best-laid plans have been put on hold. We have been reminded we have no control, and this world is broken. I have had moments of great anxiety and fear. Maybe you have, too. That’s OK. It is a part of being a finite human with such limited understanding.
We are not God. We don’t know the future, and sometimes, we just have to try to make it through this moment in front of us.
You are not alone, though you may be lonely. You have not been forsaken. God is big enough for your fears and anxieties. He can handle your doubts and questions.
I don’t know why all of this is happening, except for the fact we live in a broken world. But, I trust God is working, and he is faithful.
A moment to return to our foundation
Maybe this is a moment when the church can bridge the divisions we so often promote, stop criticizing one another and show some grace.
None of us has been through this before. There are no megachurches or small churches right now. We all are leaders in front of our phones proclaiming a never-changing gospel. We all are on the front lines of holding our communities together and pointing one another to Jesus.
Most of us are not experts in epidemiology or economics, and the world doesn’t need us to be. Jesus said the world will know we belong to him by our love. We must be marked by love. We must be marked by grace.
The world needs to see us come together. The world needs to see us be more concerned with the good of our neighbors than with being right.
This is a crucial moment for the church in our nation. It is a moment for us to proclaim and point to what truly is important, to show we really believe all are made in the image of God and valuable, to walk in faith and trust God is sovereign and good.
In many ways, this crisis has brought us back to the basics. We can’t hide behind big productions or mass emails. We have had to call, text and reach out personally to those around us.
Our sermons have been taken back to the basics of the gospel and the promises of God, the truths that help us hold on one more day and look forward to the resurrection and light to come. We don’t need alliterative points or catchy taglines.
We need the truth of God’s faithfulness and sustaining love. We need truths that help us endure global pandemics. We need churches who pray.
These are jumbled thoughts, but that is because I am having difficulty thinking clearly in the chaos of our moment. We are in this together. We all are holding on to Jesus and trying to make it through this day.
Pastors, keep being faithful. Keep it simple, and proclaim the promises God has given us to preserve.
Churches, use this opportunity to focus on the main thing, to focus on Jesus and on loving him and your neighbor well.
God is a God of life, of resurrection. The light will shine. His love will help us and sustain us. We are in this together.
Zac Harrel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.