One of the privileges I have is regularly talking and praying with pastors. Sometimes we forget that pastors are people too, and they struggle during this time, just like all of us.
Here are four continuing challenges every pastor is facing right now. I’ve also added a prayer for each area to remind us to pray for our pastors and leaders.
1. Caring for the Church Family
With continued social distancing, many pastors are concerned about being disconnected from their congregation. The online services and zoom meetings have lost their luster. There is a concern about how others are really doing in relationship to Christ and the church.
Even for congregations that are meeting in person, only 20-60% are showing up. Some pastors are wondering if people are even going to come back to the building. Remarkably, young families seem to be less enthusiastic about returning, possibly due to a lack of children’s ministry or they just prefer online church.
Another concern is safety. The corona virus is real and many wonder if the church is doing enough to protect others from getting the disease. They want to be responsible and both to the church and the community.
PRAYER: Father, You are the Great Shepherd. Thank you for your love and care. Thank for our pastors whom you have called to shepherd us who are under their care. Please protect and direct them. May they listen and fully follow You. Fill and empower them with your Spirit to do your will. Amen. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
2. Dealing with Stress
COVID is lasting longer than any of us expected. None of us have escaped the pressures this pandemic has placed on relationships and ministry. One pastor said that this time is more stressful than any other they have experienced in ministry, including a past moral failing of another church leader.
Some are stressed because their workload has increased substantially during this time. Others are struggling with a lack of clear direction and helplessness in the current circumstances.
PRAYER: Lord, your Word says that we can find our peace in You. You said that we should be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to You. So right now, we lift up our pastors and leaders. Please give them the peace that only you can bring, the peace which surpasses all understanding! Please “guard all of our minds through Christ Jesus.” Amen. (Philippians 4:6-7)
3. Maintaining Unity
Wrestling with conflict is a major concern. According to Lifeway, at the beginning of COVID, only 8% of pastors said they were facing conflicts within their congregation. Now that number has risen to almost 30%.
Just pick a topic and people are divided. Some believe racism should be a major focus right now, and others don’t think it applies to them. Some view the virus is a hoax and others are deathly afraid of it. And the list goes on. Sadly, we are seeing more and more people refusing to come to church because of Washington and Oregon’s mask requirement.
PRAYER: Today, we pray for unity. Your word says that all of us should make “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Forgive us for anything that we may have done to create division. Keep us from gossip and negative speech. Help us to share what builds up and encourage others, especially with those that lead and care of us. Amen. (Ephesians 4:3)
4. Keeping on.
Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has increased. Many pastors feel like they are in a “holding pattern.” Some are struggling with knowing what they need to do next. It may surprise you, but a few pastors are getting tired to the point of calling it quits. They were struggling with the ministry before COVID hit, but now, with the additional pressures, they are wondering if they can hang in there.
Prayer: Lord, we lift up our pastors and ministry leaders to You. We pray for Your strength in their lives during this time. Help us to know how to encourage and support them. Please give us perseverance and faith so we will not “become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Amen. (Galatians 6:9)
BEFORE YOUR GO
Your pastor and leaders need your support and encouragement. Please reach out to them. Pray for them.
Finally, please join us tonight for a “Conference Call to Prayer” Zoom meeting at 7:00 PM (Pacific Time). Everyone is welcome! Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87466381257.