Monday, December 14, 2020




I remember when I first heard this word. I was sitting in a conference where ministerial tax benefits & laws were being discussed.  The idea is that an ordained minister performs "sacerdotal" duties such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, communion, worship, etc.

All of the above mentioned duties are definitely part of a pastor's work. However, Seminary, Bible College or Ministry School don't prepare you for the "sacerdotal" duties that AREN'T mentioned. 

I can't count the number of WEDDINGS I've officiated in 34 years of ministry. 
I can't count the number of FUNERALS I've officiated in 34 years of ministry.
I can't count the number of BAPTISMS I've officiated in 34 years of ministry.
I can't count the number of ...........

However, they don't teach you in Bible College how to pastor a church during a pandemic. 

As Covid-19 drags on, many pastors are finding themselves tired, discouraged & anxious regarding the long-term implications of this pandemic. Pastors are wondering how they can fulfill their "sacerdotal" duties successfully.  Pastoral burnout is a predictable outcome for those who are running the race at a sprinter's pace rather than what is more likely to be a marathon. 

Pastors are desperate to communicate the message of faith & hope, but the means of communicating that message is difficult to determine. With the responsibility of caring for their hurting flock, from a distance, the challenge weighs heavy on their shoulders. I must admit, it can all but deplete your emotional & spiritual reserves.  Not having access to the "normal tools" people find reassuring - eye contact, bedside manner & physical presence - when comfort is desperately needed can feel like a defeating task. 
Fortunately, we have a promise that The Holy Spirit will lead & guide us into all truth.  The past nine months have brought a variety of emotions, decisions, and ups & downs. We've fought for our faith & refused to let fear grip us. The core of the church has held steady & witnessed spiritual & numerical growth in our covenant family.  God has kept us as we've pulled together to shoulder the weight of ministry. 

Pastoring during a pandemic has taught me the following...

1. Be Innovative. 
Look for creative ways to share the Gospel. You're not obligated to continue to do the same ole' thing. Use this season as an opportunity to dismount broken or dead programs, approaches & unfruitful traditions. Some would call it a reset.  Make full use of technology & don't worry about having the best of the best to work with.  Even if you don't have professional cameras/sound/lighting, etc., use your iPhone & realize that most people appreciate the "raw" real you/message with or without the bells & whistles.  Strive for excellence & make full use of what you have.

2. Be Faithful To What You've Been Taught. 
Hold fast to the testimony of the saints. Don't backslide, ghost your church or drop out.  Good teaching will keep you...even during a pandemic.  Continue to be faithful to your church, even if it's online only. Continue to be faithful in your tithes/offerings. Continue to serve where needed. Continue to communicate.

3. Be Compassionate. 
Everyone is fighting a battle. This season has brought new causes for despair all its own: more parishioners are facing physical illness, more of them grieving lost loved ones, more of them teetering on economic despair, anxiety & depression. Pray more & check on people who are struggling. In order for pastors to have sustainable, healthy relationships with their congregations, more lay leaders - not pastors - must take spiritual responsibility for the growth & maturity of others. 

4. Be Fruitful. 
Don't let Covid, or anything else, cause you to be unfruitful.  Increase your witnessing. God expects a fruitful church.  Burying your gift (failing to develop & use it) is frowned upon in the Kingdom because it robs those for whom the benefit was intended. 

5. Be Truthful. 
Some of the same folks who say they can't come to church due to health concerns...YET are out there living their best life at parties, gatherings, work, stores, get-to-gathers, sports, shopping, etc. can be aggravating...especially when you're exhausting yourself to pour into people who are hiding behind excuses. Friend, no matter who's being be honest.  The Scriptures teach us to let your Yeah be Yeah & your Nay be Nay. (Matthew 5:37)  Walk in truth & God will reward you.

6. Reproduce Resources & Train.
By necessity, most churches are putting their services online.  However, without the feedback of an in-service response or post-service conversation, preaching to an iPhone leaves many wondering how to discern whether the message is effectively reaching those who are in their homes.  Such a void can leave pastors dismayed.  We have been challenged to produce Children's Ministry Resources that parents can download & share with their kids. This requires a lot of time & energy from our teams who may wonder if their work is even being utilized.  I believe we must continue to plant the seed & allow God to bring the increase. 

The task of a shepherd is never easy. But we need not despair, nor should we attempt to carry the weight ourselves. Our HOPE in Jesus is our greatest comfort. We do not shepherd alone.  The Good Shepherd - the one who gave His life for the sheep - loves His church far more than we do, and He is, at this very moment, leading His church & beckoning us to have FAITH & FOLLOW wherever He leads. 

I'm praying for pastors & parishioners alike. Don't let a case of the "Monday Blues" beat you up! You are where you're supposed to be!  Be yourself. You don't have to compare yourself with anyone else. Hold your head up & take one day at a time. You're not alone!  Others are experiencing the same emotions - up or down - as you. God believes in YOU!