The crises of life don’t make us or break us.
A crisis reveals who we are and brings out what’s in us. Yet, we would be negligent if we didn’t seize every ministry crisis to learn and grow better.
This is my number one rule for pastoral ministry during crises. Keep growing forward!
I do confess that this nationwide pandemic crisis escalated relatively quickly and forced stronger mitigation efforts than I wanted to give. I’m not happy that I had to submit to not having on-campus services for way too many weeks.
Some pastors will probably say that this has been the worst crisis of their ministry. I can’t say that. I will concede that this is the most unique crisis I have ever led through.
1) What have I learned about myself? I’ve learned that I dislike being forced into wide-sweeping changes. But I’ve also learned that God has equipped me for crisis management. The experiences of my past have been used by God to help me steady the helm and course for our church.
2) What have I learned about my congregation? I’ve learned just how susceptible they are to the significant influences of media and its mixed voices. But I’ve also learned how flexible they are and willing to follow spiritual leadership. They’ve been understanding and adaptable in these shaky times.
3) What have I learned about ministry? I’ve relearned that ministry is all about connections. It always has been and always will be. People need to feel connected to their spiritual leaders and one another.
4) Will my ministry practice change based on this crisis experience? Yes. But first, let me explain that I’m glad that we already had an online presence. If we had started this crisis without one, the learning curve would have been extreme. However, we were lagging behind some as far as equipment and technology are concerned. So, I’ll be spending more money and energy towards maintaining a better online presence than ever.
5) I will say that this crisis has painfully exposed our ministry’s weaknesses. But it has also highlighted the strengths of our church leaders. So we’re learning and growing.
6) I’m more convinced than ever, too, that God has called His people to assemble together in the same place and face to face. I’ve cooperated with the stop-gap measure of being an online-only pastor, but it has reinforced my reservations. An online-only form of Christianity encourages people to consume our services like the plethora of content already available. Prolonged online-only Christianity, in my opinion, leads to a mostly backslidden church culture with a form of godliness that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.
I know that’s an unpopular opinion. And I won’t take the time to attempt to persuade you I’m right.
7) The final lesson I’ve had to relearn has been my need to take care of myself. Attention to physical exercise and nutrition has enabled me to deal with the extra stress. I know if I don’t take care of me, I can’t lead my staff, give pastoral care, or provide spoken ministry.
I’ll end this with one major reminder for us all. GOD is BIGGER than the coronavirus!