It’s just not the same.
I’m talking about the current plight of the pastoral ministry. Pastoral leadership during social distancing is quite different. It’s just not the same!
I’m about to tell you how I really feel.
I miss the way things were. There, I said it. I know I’m supposed to be making the best out of a not-so-great season of church life. I promise I’m doing my best to cope with the circumstances.
But I have to say this. Being an online-only pastor stinks. Yes, I am very thankful for twenty-first century technology. For many years, I’ve been advocating its use to preach the Gospel. This very powerful tool called the internet enhances and enables ministry efforts around the globe, including this blog. However, I have no desire to spend the rest of my ministry as an online-only pastor.
Here’s what I miss about being an in-person, up-close pastor who regularly meets with small and large groups of people.
- I miss seeing people approach one another without hesitancy. A joyful heart that’s glad to be on-campus with the family of God makes me feel like a proud parent.
- I miss seeing the smiling faces of volunteers who show up early because they love serving Jesus by serving people. Come at me with a smile, and I’ll give you one right back. Our volunteers often give smiles away to those who forgot to bring their own.
- I miss firm handshakes and heartfelt hugs. They’re not always necessary, and I don’t get to shake hands with every single person on campus. But I do miss that physical touch.
- I miss up-close and personal prayer ministry. Laying hands on the sick or holding hands in agreement for needs to be met by God is a privilege. As well, I miss seeing my pastoral staff and prayer teams serve others through prayer.
- I miss preaching to the crowd and the energy they bring. Their interactive body language makes a difference in my spoken ministry. Preaching is more fun when you have a live audience, instead of a pastor who just went live.
- I miss meetings with staff and other leaders without the practice of social distancing. Thinking through seating arrangements as though I’m an elementary school teacher is for the birds.
- I miss eating meals with church leaders and other Christian friends. I miss the enjoyment of close fellowship. In those times we learn details that strengthen relationships.
No, I’m not okay. But I am coping with the circumstances. One day at a time, I am dependent upon the all-sufficient grace of my Savior.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’ll be an online-only pastor for as long as it’s deemed necessary. But I do eagerly anticipate returning to being an in-person pastor to whosoever will come and hear me declare, “Welcome Home!” And if you’re forced to be away because of military service or you’re health-bound to a care facility, I’ll gladly be your online pastor.
I’m not okay with things as they are, but I will be okay. Everything will be okay. Eventually.
I believe Jesus is using this crisis to build His Kingdom in spite of the changes and losses we’re experiencing. I believe things will never go back to exactly like they were. In the long run, I believe churches that have adapted and stayed connected will be better and healthier because of this crisis.
Everything will be okay.