I have never experienced anything like what the world is facing today. Everything seems unprecedented, and we’re walking paths we’ve not walked in our lifetimes. Our pastors—the under-shepherds God has given to lead us—need our prayer support these days. Here’s why:
- They’re scrambling to figure out how to equip and encourage their congregation when meeting together is increasingly difficult. Many pastors have never even considered anything like livestreaming, but this situation has forced them in new directions. And, the need to determine what next steps to take is an urgent one.
- Many pastors simply love (and now miss) being among their congregation. Face-to-face. Handshake to handshake, hug to hug. They can’t even envision ministry that’s not relationally driven, so this whole situation is frustrating. In fact, they almost feel like they’re not doing their job if they must maintain distance from others.
- Many pastors lead churches that are small enough and weak enough that this crisis threatens their long-term existence. The longer their church doesn’t meet, the more likely that result will be. They want to be people of faith, but fear lurks with every hour.
- Some aren’t sure they’ll get a paycheck in the weeks to come. It’s not that their churches don’t want to pay them; it’s that their churches have never taken an offering apart from “passing the plate” each Sunday. Some bivocational pastors may also find that their secular employer is facing unexpected financial crises.
- For many pastors, being among the sick has been a regular part of their ministry—so they’re wondering about their own exposure to the coronavirus. Even if they’re not exhibiting symptoms, they worry with every slight cough. Others around them worry, too—which makes everybody uncomfortable.
- Some have been in the process of transitioning to another ministry role, and this situation has delayed everything indefinitely. Often, at least two ministries or churches are involved in this process, and now they’re in a waiting period. The pastor and his family are on hold. The grief of leaving is extended, and the excitement of a new journey can only wait for fulfillment. It’s tough on everyone.
- They grieve when someone among their flock tests positive for the virus. Especially for the older members in our churches, this virus can be devastating. Pastors, though, must make hard choices about how/when to minister to their ailing members.
- They have to shepherd their own families through this crisis. They have their own spouses, children, grandchildren, and elderly parents for whom they must care. In some cases, frankly (and this recognition is not good), some pastors will spend more time with their family in the next few weeks than they have in months. That adjustment will likely stretch them.
Pastors, what would you add to this list? I encourage all of us to pray for our pastors and invite others to join us.