A good way to damage your credibility along with church
attendance re-attendance is to turn off people, and even God’s people, regarding their attendance, as the tragic Covid pandemic dissipates.  Some have already done significant damage from the beginning of this crisis, and the cost of that approach is already being paid.
Instead of some “self-righteous and arrogant” approach of — “If can make it to Home Depot, you can make it back to church on Sunday morning!”  — how about these four statements . . . .
. . . . . .
#1 – There are some who should NOT be returning yet because they are still at the highest risk until they are immunized. In fact, they may want to wait for several more weeks to determine that the national immunization has been effective. My mom and/or dad, who are in the seventies, are in that category.
#2 — There are those who can be and should be back in church. Their age — and perhaps even now having been immunized — their health history — and with reasonable cautions — can be and should be back in church. We do not know, nor are we going to speculate as to who those people are!
#3 – There are those who are still conflicted and uncertain and should NOT be back until they are convinced that it is safe for them. Whether it is safe or not, a decision we are about to make for others during these difficult and tragic days for many. It is not our decision but is rightfully their decision, and they must settle on the timing before they are comfortable. And we fully understand that for each person, that time is different. We support those who are rightfully concerned and uncertain about the best time for their family — or the various family members.
#4 – There are those who are very comfortable being back in an in-person — brick and mortar — church service. Their age, life situation, personal health history, and/or even their personality may allow them to feel more comfortable. They are not seeking to make any statement by their attendance. They are willing to take whatever precautions are helpful to those who are more cautious and concerned because they love the people who have also chosen to be here regularly or sporadically at this time, midst this pandemic.
1. Some ministries fully demonstrate their
pastoral ignorance biblical ineptitude when it comes to dealing with this tragic pandemic. The words “tragic Covid pandemic” even irritate some because they cannot even recognize the pain of so many others over the loss of loved family members and friends — at least until it happens to them or those they love/loved — and then some even forget that experience so quickly!
Some speak about medical issues as if they are actually qualified. Not even the medical profession has found a unified voice, but some seminary graduates have the chutzpah to speak with authority. Some pastors have again demonstrated that they lack genuine concern, empathy, and compassion for those who are “not quite as spiritual as they are.”
At times, you want to say to some pastors (humorously). . . .
“Okay — turn over your Bible — hand it over — you don’t know how to rightfully use what it teaches. When you learn how to read and understand the Scriptures, we will give back the Book. But for now, you reveal that you will use verses and passages to argue your own personal viewpoints. So hand it over till such a time as you are willing to use it as a good under-shepherd, for the good of God’s sheep!”
2. Taking short trips shopping for food and/or purchasing needed items to work on projects that can be accomplished during these weeks and months of quarantine, is far from attending an “hour” service, with singing, and any possible expectations and temptations of fellowship. But if you want members to breeze in and out ( or “pick up” a copy of the sermon notes at the door) in a quick 15-minute appearance, I am sure some might be willing to accommodate such a ludicrous comparison!
P.S. With some, it is really about them and their security. They need the pews filled because for some it is about their perceived influence, their ego. They need to know that they are important and that is hard to do virtually. The return of people is about their level of importance. They need to believe that — “I’m making a difference.”
Over the months of being virtual, that was and is missing — “Get yourself back to church services! This is your pastor speaking!” — You know, the pastor who said he had a heart for God’s people, but never even personally called you. You know, the pastor’s heart who had others do that work!
Now, that far fewer have trickled back, it is speaking a message to them, accurately or inaccurately — but nonetheless cogently! Maybe they as a pastor are not that well regarded as they would like to believe– and their attempts at creating guilt has had little effect.
- Some need to hear “That was a great sermon pastor!”
- Some need to hear someone to say “Thanks Pastor — I appreciate you!”
- Some miss the affirmations of support.
- I need to hear you “AMEN” / clap / nod in agreement
- Some pastors feel that such affirmation is more importantly received by them, than they think others, who are not in ministry, need hear it.
(Odd, isn’t it? The shepherd seeks the needs that he is supposedly there to provide for the sheep. Odd!)
If it was about God’s people, they would have stayed connected with the sheep from the most uncertain days in the beginning, to the months which have passed since. I still hear God’s people say — “Have never got one call from my pastor since last March.” SHAMEFUL!
Forget the excuses — It is about them! Don’t be confused about what has happened across the spectrum of ministries, the self-serving nature of many a ministry has been exposed by the words and actions (or lack) of those in ministry and church leadership.
The pandemic has proven who some are; they do not have the heart of a shepherd. This has been an opportunity to implement what they have always wanted to put into place — less work, less contact and “counseling” with God’s people, and less preaching to the smaller audiences in “Sunday Schools,” on Sunday evenings, and/or mid-week services.
Far too many — no, not all — have been on a “covidcation” and AWOL from the earliest days when it comes to pastoral ministry! There was little attempt by far too many to come up with new and different ways to address the crisis — unlike many of the pastors scattered throughout the world who figure it out midst persecution — midst real-life shepherding! They are the ones who have the heart of a shepherd, unseen in the lives of anemic American pastors who are tired — tired out after a few weeks!
I am almost ready to start a new church! It is not the lack of resources, the potential and anticipated response, or even the energy, but the thought. . .
“Tampa does not need another church. There are too many already!”
However, I remember new graduated youth pastor, who was looking for his first youth ministry, saying to me . . .
“There are so many youth pastors out there already!”
My response . . . .
“But not a lot of good ones.
Play a children’s game, and you will attract children.
Play a man’s game, and yoiu will attract men — like David did! — 600 of them who were fighters!
You be good, and you will attract those who want to really want to minister to families and teens!”
That advice still speaks to my own heart!