Honoring Pastors in a Pandemic
What a year it’s been so far! Physical doors of churches have been closed. Pastors haven’t seen their congregation face-to-face for months now. Pastors have suddenly become experts in various social media platforms and streaming technology. Various equipment are sprouting up in our homes – tripods, lightings and microphones – all so that we can continue the ministry during COVID-19. Perhaps our Bible seminary should conduct courses on leading church in a pandemic, pastoring from afar, and throw in lessons on podcasting and vlogging. But for now, your pastors have been stretched in every way to continue shepherding the flock under their care.
I know of many pastors who put their call to serve and minister above the pandemic fears to continually minister to their congregation in the hospitals and at funerals. There are countless difficult decisions that your pastors have to make during this season, especially with how fluid things are. Should they reopen church doors or not? Should they settle for church services without being allowed to sing? Should they continue renting of church facilities? How will the rentals and overheads be met? How should they minister to the elderly and not so tech-savvy even as the church moves online? With the shift to online services, how do we prevent the mindset of convenient Christianity from growing? How do we help our congregations to grow in their spiritual disciplines and not fall away? How can we engage the children and youths who require tangible social engagements?
Not everyone will understand the pressures faced by your pastors. Not everyone will approve of their decisions. Fewer will applaud or affirm their leaders. Some may even leave church. But I pray that you trust your pastors and stand with them as they make difficult decisions. God honors the unity of His people and this is the time for everyone in the church to stand with their pastors and forge ahead together as the Body of Christ.
The month of October is Honor Pastors’ Month. This isn’t the time for dinner gatherings. Rather the best form of honor and encouragement you can give to your pastors is to stand with them in prayer. God is the Alpha and Omega. He knows how this pandemic will end and He knows the way through this pandemic. The question is – how will the church emerge from the pandemic? Unified or fragmented?
Pray for them to be led by the Spirit. These are unprecedented times. Just as how the Lord led Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 3:4 to “know which way to go since [they] have never been this way before”, pray for your pastors to have deep walks with God and intimate times of dwelling in His presence so that God will reveal to them strategies and directions to navigate these times.
Pray for them to be wise and discerning. May they be like the Sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32 who “understood the times” and know what to do. Pray for them to have certainty and boldness in their spirit to follow the leading of the Lord and not give in to the pressures of popularity.
Pray for their spirit to be strengthened. Your pastors are NOT superheroes – they are very human. Cut them and they will bleed. The battle with COVID-19 is a long drawn one and it is easy to grow tired. Pray for the hope we have in Christ to be theirs and that the Spirit of the Lord will sustain them when they feel overwhelmed by the weight of circumstances.
Pray for their households. Working from home with their spouse and children at home can really be a challenge at times. Many of your pastors have been doing their best to record their worship parts and preaching while keeping their young children at bay. Stresses are inevitable. But with your prayers, I believe there will be divine interventions.
Finally, pray for unity in the church. Christ prayed in John 17:21-23 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. If the world is to see Christ, and the hope that we have in Him, they need to see a Church that is unified. And that begins with YOU.
Prayer is the best gift you can give to your pastors this Honor Pastors’ Month.