Today has been a day unlike any that I have ever experienced in ministry. It has been a day of challenges, innovation and encouragement. I have spent much of this day learning anew how to minister to the people to which I have been called. If ever there was a day that I’ve had to throw-out the ministry playbook and find another way forward, it was today.
Bound Together by the Gospel
If you are church folk who read this, rest assured there is a whole group of pastors out there who are committed to make this unprecedented season of ministry work, and I had the privilege of talking with them today. I called many pastors from across the Commonwealth in order to discover some ministerial best practices during the Coronavirus. All of them had a deep desire to keep their flock safe and spiritually fed. Every pastor who I spoke with today was taught how to minister the old, traditional way, by coming in contact with people, and ministering God’s Word to them. But what happens when you remove that ministry of presence? What happens when that central roll of being with people is removed? Leadership is what happens. The old adage is, ‘leaders find a way to win.’ That’s just what these guys are doing, they are finding a new way forward. Why? Because the church of Jesus Christ is about more than a building and a gathering of people, its about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—the gospel. We are bound together through the gospel and because of that we meet. It is not our meeting that binds us together. So, in the midst of unprecedented obstacles, these leaders, these pastors, these brothers are finding innovative ways forward.
Innovation and Ministry
Innovation and Baptist preacher are rarely synonymous. One of my mentors always tells me, “In a Baptist church, whatever you do, do it right the first time because you’re going to be doing in that way for the next hundred years.” Even that adage is changing, we are changing. We are innovating, because we are drawn together as a church, a family of believers because of the gospel.
Pastors are finding new ways to minister to their folks. They are exploring multiple means of technology. They are intensifying and personalizing their connections within their flocks. They are being careful not to leave anyone behind. Children through senior adults are being ministered to in creative ways during this time. Those who aren’t technologically adept are not being left-out. They are getting others involved. They are not trying to carry this burden alone but are utilizing staff and have younger members to reach-out and minster.
One of the most encouraging things that has come out of these trying times is the number of younger people who have stepped forward, willing to minister to those in need. This has enabled churches to minister to the most vulnerable like never before. Churches are seeking to serve their communities and open their facilities like never before.
Pastors and churches are praying. This time has caused pastors to pray more intensely and more strategically. They are being asked to pray for and with those medical professionals who are on the frontlines of this battle. They are being asked to pray for and with business owners who are anxious about what the future holds. They are seeking the intervention of God in the time when it seems the world is losing hope.
Hope to Share
Having hope when it seems that hope is failing is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The disciples who walked alongside Jesus during His earthly ministry, lost hope while He was in the grave, but their faith was solidified to the point of martyrdom. Those who had lost faith had a faith worth dying for when they saw Jesus alive from the grave. The same hope that propelled the ministry of the earliest disciples, is the same hope that propels these pastors.
Propelled by hope, driven by the gospel, pastors are innovating their ministries in order to serve their churches. It would be easy to sit at home and wait until the storm of COVID-19 blows over, but that’s not what’s happening. I have spoken with pastors all across Kentucky who are serving their congregations more intensely because they are providing the hope that comes through the risen Jesus Christ to a world which so desperately needs it.