Our guest blogger today is Merrick Nunn, lead pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Murray, KY. He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University (B.S.) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv), and he has been accepted to begin doctoral studies at SEBTS in January. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Follow Merrick on Twitter: @Merricknunn
In just a few weeks, I will complete my first year as a senior pastor. Being called to a church during a pandemic was challenging to say the least, but here are five insights the Lord has given me during this time.
- God’s timing is perfect. When we were called during a pandemic to move eight hours from home to an area we had never heard of, we questioned why God was calling us to this church at this time. Since I’ve been here, though, God has made it clear He brought me here to lead at this time. The pandemic allowed me to focus on preaching God’s Word, love people, and create a strategy to lead the church into necessary change. Without everything on hold according to God’s timing, accomplishing these tasks would have been more difficult.
- God’s Word is applicable for all seasons. As a new pastor during the middle of a pandemic, I was faced with an ever-present question: “Do I, or do I not, believe God’s Word is sufficient for this season?” As I began to preach through His Word, God reminded me His Word truly is living and active (Heb 4:12). I’ve laughed with joy on numerous occasions at just how relevant His Word is in this season.
- My lack of prayer isn’t due to a “lack of time.” During the pandemic, I had a lot of extra time in my new office. Not having enough time to pray was no longer a viable excuse for my prayerlessness, as if it ever were. My practice, now more than ever, would prove what I believed about prayer. I began by confessing my prayerlessness and creating time to just be with Jesus in silence and solitude. In short, prayer has come alive in my life during this season like never before, and I know I’m just scratching the surface.
- The in-person gathering of the local church is more important than I realized. God’s people need each other, and the pandemic showed me clearly that we need to physically worship and serve together. Fellowship isn’t just a part of our Christianity; rather, the church is the family of God–the means God uses to reach the world.
- The Spirit moved in me when I finally acknowledged how desperately I needed Him. As a first-time pastor, I had prepared well to know what to do in my first 100 days. Well, those rules became null and void during the pandemic. More than ever, I had to rely on the Spirit to know what to do. In so doing, I learned a valuable lesson: God’s Spirit doesn’t always lead you to do what the experts say you need to do, but the Spirit’s way is always better. We’ve done more in our first year than I ever would have thought possible, and it all happened during a pandemic.
If you began a new pastorate during the pandemic, what have you learned?
Welcome to Murray, Merrick. I moved to Murray over thirteen years ago. I hope you are prepared for more challenges in 2021, particularly in the fall, with slow vaccinations in the neighboring states of Missouri and Tennessee and the spread of the more infectious COVID-19 variant Delta in Missouri. We may be experiencing the calm before the storm this summer.
We are so happy God called you and both you and our church listened to his calling. We are blessed to have you and your family