The last four weeks in my Wednesday eNote I have been sharing learnings form two groups that met over several months during the COVID-19 season; one group made up of large church pastors, and the other a more representative group. 

Pastors have been tested!

In both groups’ words like tired, exhausted, and even depressed were used often.  The sense of grief and loss was tangible.  There was a sense the pastors were discovering more about themselves as they separated from the usual church routine, as well as discovering things about their church that they might or might not have known.  It’s important we don’t forget these personal learnings and apply changes for the next season.

This self and church discovery were happening at the same time as clergy were forced to be on the fast track attempting to adapt to the constantly evolving pandemic and how the church interacted with it.

Some pastors found themselves disappointed with many of their church members, discovered serious divisions in their churches, and experienced a sense of loss.  Grief!  Discussions were shared as, how to, and its ok to “Lament”.  Will we spiritually grow in this season and can we lead our church and church members to do the same? 

One repeated comment:

After the pandemic is over, some clergy will decide to leave the ministry. Others will be more certain they are in the right calling. 

The guess is that some clergy are questioning if ministry is the right calling for them and that others are even more sure.

This unpredicted season could be a tipping point for many clergy. Denominational divisions, culture wars, and often infighting in the church over so many issues has left clergy examining their core calling. Some clergy had a sense that they had not prepared the church well enough for something like this and are wondering what to do next.  Can the church change, can the church change?
  • Clergy and churches have been given a season where they can examine their core values, define and refocus, and look deeply into the why. This forced wilderness wandering is a gift and an opportunity for the soul of the pastor and the soul of the church.
  • Clergy are discovering or rediscovering creativity and innovation in their life and mission. The routine of maintaining the church as it ceased.  There is often tension in pastors between running a church and living out their core calling.
  • Spirituality, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the reason people come into ministry in the first place is either coming to light in a more crystal-clear way, or clergy are discovering what has been missing or was never in their calling to ministry.
Wise pastors are looking in as much as looking out.  Wise church leaders are looking deeply at the core values of the church as much as they are concerned about the chaotic values of a divided culture.  This is a great season of opportunity for the church and the pastor that can see that its about Jesus and them and not the church and a virus. 

Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth