By Aaron Earls
After the initial rush of innovation and excitement, many church leaders have expressed disappointment and frustration at the extended lack of congregational gatherings and the difficulties of transitioning so much ministry online.
As you think back on the Easter Sunday service, do you feel like something wasn’t right?
Does it feel like you still haven’t quite gotten the handle on preaching to an empty room and a blinking camera light? Good.
In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes of our earthly life, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
While our local church gatherings are not our final home, they’re intended to be a reflection, a glimpse of the ultimate gathering of the entire Church.
So, it makes sense that we wouldn’t be satisfied with a copy of a copy. We aren’t supposed to be satisfied with it.
With that in mind, here are some encouragements for any church leader who feels disappointment during the current season of quarantines and self-isolation.
Grief is OK.
Obviously, some people are going through a more intense sense of grief at having lost a loved one, but all of us are dealing with a sense of loss at what we had but no longer have.
You don’t have to plow forward as if those feelings aren’t real. Acknowledge your grief and take it to God.
You can’t master this overnight.
Some church leaders went from never having a Facebook account to livestreaming their worship services over the social media platform. There will be bumps along this newly traveled road.
Don’t give up. Keep working to improve every day in what you’re doing. But give yourself and your church grace as you seek to do something new and different.
We’re supposed to be together.
Online church is never going to feel perfect because it can never be perfect. It will always be less than an in-person gathering.
Don’t lose heart because things aren’t like they were before. They shouldn’t be.
Encourage your people to embrace that longing, as they anxiously wait for the day when we will gather as a local body and the day we will gather as the Body.
Idolatry is being exposed.
Many congregations and church leaders found their identity in faulty measurements of success and now much of those have been stripped away.
As ministry idols are being revealed, flashiness is being replaced by faithfulness in many places.
Your people understand.
As you wrestle with how to best serve and minister to your people, they understand you don’t have all the answers and immediate solutions.
Virtually everyone has been affected by this pandemic. Church members realize church leaders won’t be able to serve and lead in the same way.
We need more humility.
Nothing makes you humble faster than being thrust into a situation for which you could never have prepared.
Allow the Lord to develop humility in your during this moment when it is easy, so that you can remain a more humble person as life begins to return to normal.
Your ministry will be refined.
As you’ve had to adapt your ministry, you have a new perspective on some of what you’ve been doing.
There are aspects you now realize are indispensable, but there are probably some tasks or projects you recognize should be pruned.
God is still at work.
Ultimately, through all of this, God remains on His throne and continues to work through His people.
Even as your local church can’t gather, Jesus is working in the lives of His people.
While your outreach has been limited, the Holy Spirit continues to draw people.
Trust that regardless of what happens with global circumstances, the cosmic truth remains: God is with us and He will never stop working for our good and His glory.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor for Facts & Trends.