If there were ever a time to go all out on appreciating your ministry leaders, it is now, this month, today! AMEN!!
Your leaders are living in the same world that you are
- A world with natural disasters (hurricanes in the Gulf, fires out West)
- A world in the midst of a pandemic (not being able to see family and friends, worried about parishioners, worried about their own children and their own families)
- A world doing virtual schooling (for both school age and college students)
- A world experiencing an important level of social unrest
- A world of heightened anxiety due to the upcoming election
Your leaders have engaged in a huge PIVOT – providing worship in a variety of ways
- Facebook Lives
- Outdoors in chairs
- Outdoors in cars
Many of your ministry leaders have not taken, nor will they be able to take, their well-deserved vacation days between now and the end of the year. They are putting in extra hours doing their ministry in a whole variety of new ways. One of my clients this last week led an in person worship, wrote a worship service for lay leaders to lead, wrote and conducted a confirmation service, conducted an online YouTube Holy Communion service and recorded a Sunday service to be posted online. They also did a funeral service for a small gathering of people at a local funeral home. They are teaching Confirmation classes three nights a week (one night for each age group to minimize the number of people in the building at one time). This is in an area of the country where the Covid numbers are still relatively low – this scenario (of in-person) is not even possible with the majority of my clients. This client is trying to get away for a few days but in so doing, is having to create and record a service for the congregation to use while they are away (so, not REALLY getting a Sunday off.
There is a significant amount of emotions and grief in our congregations today. People miss seeing one another face to face, people are wanting to gather in person to worship, people are interpreting what pastors are trying to do to keep their congregations safe as being either partisan or an abuse of power.
People of God, I get it. I understand that you love worship and that you miss gathering! But this month, October, the month designated as Clergy Appreciation Month – may we approach this month with an assumption that whatever your religious leader is wanting and trying to do is meant to protect you? Approach your religious leader with an assumption that they genuinely love and care for you – all of you! Your Shepherd is charged with protecting their sheep! They are going to great lengths to do that. It would frankly be so much easier to do worship in person with no technology as was done for hundreds of years before this pandemic. But your leaders are doing backflips (or learning how to edit video) to get worship to you through a variety of ways that are safe for you and them. Would they rather worship in person? Absolutely. Do many of them feel that it is not safe right now to do so? Absolutely.
Purpose of Worship
What is the purpose of worship? To praise and worship God! Can you do that in a place other than your designated pew. Thank God that YES, yes, you can! Thank God that we live in an era of Facebook and Zoom. Thank God that God has moved us from the pew to the internet. Across the country, ministry leaders are reporting that far more people are being reached than were ever reached when worship was offered in person alone. Our leaders have all become televangelists and God’s people are responding. One of my clients in a small rural congregation, got an email from a woman many states away (a complete stranger to the congregation) asking that the congregation pray for her upcoming surgery. Praise God!!
Dear friends! Instead of looking at what we are missing, let us set our eyes upon what God is doing during this time of pandemic, social unrest, and natural disasters (or what we could just call 2020). God is not only alive and well, but God is using this terrible time to reach so many more people with God’s love and comfort!
Clergy Appreciation Month – like no other!
Let me be the first (or hopefully NOT the first) to say to all ministry leaders – thank you! Thank you for what you are doing. Thank you for not letting a crazy world keep you from doing what you have been called to do – making disciples of all nations, shepherding your sheep, pivoting! Dear leaders – please take care of yourselves. We are in this for the long haul and that means you need to be gentle with yourselves. There is a lot of work left to do.