What Covid reveals about our ministries is an article with some thoughts and reflections from being in the ministry when Covid hit.
What Covid reveals about our ministries
It has been interesting being in the ministry when Covid hit. I offer you some reflections on what I observe in our people and situation here in Mexico.
We have to protect ourselves except when we don’t
It has been something to see how paranoid some people are over their health. Yet at the same time that people cannot come into the church building because there were 20+ other people all masked up, they can go into the supermarket with 50 other people, and to the street markets. They also go to school meetings with 30+ other parents for things about their kids school, but not church.
To me as pastor, I see their bare priorities coming out. God is not worth taking the chance of getting Covid. I can see no other reason. In the case of one family, they use the subway during Covid, so they are packed in a small subway with people literally touching them because it is so cramped, but they cannot come to church.
In my our mind, I have a saying I made up. Any old excuse is good when you just don’t want to go. With people like this, we bend over backwards for them, but nothing will satisfy them because they have no desire to go. Fix one excuse, and they will come up with another. We put out hand sanitizing gel, face masks, plastic shields, separated the chairs 2 feet apart, and made every other chair empty, and nothing. The real reason they don’t come lies somewhere in their poor relationship with God. In some cases, they hate other people in the church, and that hatred generates excuses for serving, for attending, etc.
Note: While we are twisting ourselves into knots to please these people, all that energy causes the rest of our people to be uncomfortable. That is the net result. We irritate everybody trying to please a few that don’t want to come.
Look who passed away!
Covid has been a very bad disease. There have been a lot of people who have died, and some that we think are very weak health-wise, and they probably should have died and didn’t. They talk about comorbidity, or other diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes that put these individuals into a very high risk category.
I am personally probably in at least 2 comorbidity categories and maybe 3 or more. I still went to the church meetings every time we had one in the building, and I am still here kicking and complaining. I also cannot breath with a face mask so I tend to pull it down a lot.
But on the side of who died? Many younger, healthy people died. A lot of older people also. But if I understand the situation correctly, EVERY YEARLY FLU SEASON sees a lot of older people pass away. Covid may have raised that effect a lot in the pass few years, but it only amplified it. That always happens.
My take on this is that we can fret and fuss about our health, but the bottom line is that God has control of when your life is over and nobody else. God will protect some, and God will send the angel of death for others. It is HOW WE LIVE before God that affects this process, not our personal health protections. I still will use masks at some times, but they are helpless in keeping me alive and well. God is who keeps me alive and well and no other.
Congregating Is A Command of God
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
What I have learned is that there are two parts to this commandment. 1) a good provoking between our members and 2) an assembling together. There is a world of difference between “attending church” and “congregating”. We are to congregate. We assemble together for the purposes of God. A centerpiece of this congregating is the encouraging of one another. This absolutely has to happen on a conversational level, two people talking to each other. No TV church service nor Internet service can substitute for that. We tried to do something like that in the beginning and the “praise time” of our service went to an hour and half. And we didn’t even let everybody talk. This has to be people standing around before and after church chatting with each other and in groups of 3 or 4. But that is a purpose that God has for the church.
Secondly, maybe it is just our church, but some of our people hate others in the fellowship. Although they won´t come out and say that, it is apparent from how they see these other people. In a church after the service, they will never gravitate to speak to those people. Complaints are common that somebody greeted them and wanted to shake their hand and they turned their back and walked off. But when somebody they dislike gets the Zoom screen and talks for 3-4 minutes, it is the end of the world for those that dislike them.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
I have preached probably a half dozen or 10 sermons on this passage of Scripture. Still people cannot understand it. They just tone down their hatred a notch and continue on with it.
Our concept of “church” is that it is a workshop. While there are some pretty experienced people, most are not. Most are still learning the basics. A spiritual person can be of great help in a workshop, but watch out for a fella that thinks he is an expert and wants to use the saws and heavy machinery when he is still a novice!
Are there people in my church that irritate me? Yes. And God put them there. I have an obligation to edify them and help them, and it is a sin to ignore them. At times, I mention something to one of these people. They just get under my skin. For example, we have had a person who is constantly inviting our people in the praises time to go to special conferences or just regular services at a neighboring church. I see that as unethical. Moreover, why are they not encouraging our own people to come to Sunday School and Sunday night services? Wednesday prayer services are always light.
But to me as a pastor, we (pastors and churches of our day) have not even scratched the surface of what church is all about. The relationship between our people and to the Lord’s work is very little touched on in modern churches. As we all as Christians are under the attack from Satan for our Christian faith, church should be where our pep rally is held for living for Christ. I should not have a bad attitude about being with these church members, but they should build me spiritually and emotionally. When people interact with you at church, this is it. Hopefully you will not get into a fist fight after church with some other member, but encourage and edify each other.
I usually as habit make a tract out of my Sunday sermons. I give out one to each person before the preaching. They can follow me, or they can read ahead. But my main purpose of doing this is so that they can follow along reading the verses written out in the tract, and they don’t have to search their Bibles for Genesis. What they should know.
In Covid, I was offered the point, “You have to use Powerpoint”. They say there is no other way. Well, a lot of people over the past years have heard a lot of sermons just in the audio. But I conceded to those who wanted that. Now we are back to using tracts. A tract is usually placed in their Bible (today everybody uses their phone to read the Bible and nobody carries their Bible anymore). But the point is that the essence of the sermon is written out, well worded (I correct my tracts reading them over and over again some 5 to 10 times). In the future (like going out the back door after the service) they will forget the sermon. Only remember maybe the topic of what it dealt with. But if they have a tract on the topic, and it comes up again, they pull out the tract and it becomes a spiritual gem for them.
What Covid reveals about our ministries