With all of the problems and issues that pastors must deal with, when to open the church doors should not be one of them.
They have hungry people, homeless people, youth and adults committing suicide, imprisoned individuals, grieving families, members on their death beds to concern themselves with.
We have all seen the agony that governmental officials were and are going through before closing businesses, but many of us are not aware of the pain pastors of churches are feeling. Most pastors are suffering quietly. Many of them are battling this Faith vs Fear in silence.
The closing of the church was not normal in the thinking of most pastors. Some are asking, ”What could one be thinking to tell me to close the church doors? What can prevail against the church?” Being confronted with COVID-19 made believers out of many. Many had been preaching to others and forgot to hear themselves. Many have said, “You are the church. The building is within those four walls but the church is not.”
Are we agonizing about the church door opening so that we can return and have church again as usual? What does it mean to have church? Are we dying to get back to doing the work of the church or doing church work? If we are dying to get back to the job of doing what the church assignment is, that work is not within the four walls.
The church assignment is manifold and involves feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoners, clothing those who have no clothes, finding shelter for the homeless, giving hope to the helpless and empowering individuals to be productive citizens and good neighbors in the community in which they live.
For some, it was not quite so painful after they saw that people were dying because they put their trust in their spiritual leaders to keep them safe. Many of them had to adjust their thinking about the God to whom they show allegiance.
Some got their faith confused with their fears. Some got their fears in crosshairs with their faith.
Many had to go back to their Father and seek advice about opening or closing the doors of the church. Some got confused with what the church really is. Even though most, if not all, of them had preached to us for years that we are the church and our lives are the sermons — preaching every day to a dying world.
Many had preached and taught that the government is on God’s shoulder, and he expects his children to follow the law of the land. Obey the law of the land because obedience is better than sacrifice.
Many had also seen the harm being done all over the world by COVID-19 and were determined not to be misled by the conspiracy theory that it was just a hoax.
COVID-19 is an equal opportunity virus. Most pastors started teaching and telling the congregation that one has to seek COVID-19 or be in its company in order to contract it. They began to encourage members to practice social distancing, wear the mask and stay home.
Many pastors obviously were feeling that they were letting God down. The Father must have said to them, “I have a new plan for you and am allowing you this time to realize that you have to get to know me better, and you must rethink your purpose as you minister to my children.”
Many kept putting Jesus back on the cross, forgetting that he had already died for our past sins, our present sins, and those that we might commit in the future.
This has been a painful and agonizing time for many pastors. The new norm is debilitating for them emotionally, spiritually, socially and, for some, financially. I am sure one of the most devastating realities is that members of their churches are still dying and funerals must take place.
Pastors must help members to accept the new norm of how to behave when friends and loved one’s transition. They have had to rely on technology more than they enjoy. Many pastors have had to become more familiar with the technology that is available. Pastors had to adjust to operating with ZOOM, Facebook, Facetime, YouTube and Skype and all of the other technological techniques available for us to be close while being so far away.
Most ministers realize that Jesus has already paid the price for our sins so if opening is too late, they are willing to pay the cost emotionally. Some have seen the scientific proof of what happens when large groups of people come together without taking extra precaution.
The extra precaution is simple: stay home. It is not deep nor is it complicated. When going out in public always wear a mask, keep six or more feet away from others, and stay away from large gatherings, even family and friends.
Many forgot who God left in charge of the church. He left “the called and the sent” in charge. If they fail, we fail. Let us pray every day without ceasing for our spiritual leaders all over the world.