Life.Church Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel has encouraged church leaders who are feeling “a sense of uselessness, exhaustion" and "burnout” coming out of the pandemic to allow the needs of their communities and the power of the Gospel to compel them to fulfill their God-given mission.
“Our nation and many parts of the world are starting to function, not normally, but moving in the trajectory of normal again. I think it's a good time to reset it and take an account: What do we still have? What are our goals? How, in any way, do our goals differ moving forward?” the Oklahoma-based pastor said during Exponential's Reset Summit last week.
Pastors need to “lead with confidence” moving forward, Groeschel said, and will need to examine the “whys behind what we do.”
“Even though we don't have all the answers ... I am 100% confident in the power of the Gospel and 100% confident in the need for the Church and in the ability for the Church to endure and to thrive. I also believe that it's in times like this that the Church should be thriving. I both have unanswered questions like everybody else ... and confidence together.”
The bestselling author went on to identify some of the issues he’s seen pastors and church leaders face as the pandemic slows and churches begin to reopen. He said that in some cases, he’s seen some pastors struggle with “feeling a sense of uselessness, exhaustion [and] burnout."
In other cases, the pastor said church leaders are dealing with “a sense of loss and grief” as their churches reopen and attendance is low, while others have seen an increase in numbers over the last few months.
“No matter what the state is, I'm going to be mission-focused, mission-centric in everything that we do, and go back to: Why does the Church matter? Who is the Church to God? What is our calling in the world? How do we need to do Church? ... How do we think about church building, church planting?” he said.
“I don't want to rebuild to the past; I want to build to the future,” he added.
Groeschel, who contracted COVID-19 last March, told pastors: “You're not going to get everybody back that was coming 18 months ago. Just not gonna happen. … I wouldn't wake up talking about getting everybody back; I'd wake up thinking, ‘How do we reach the lost? How do we assimilate them into a larger Body of Christ? And let that mission overwhelm any grief you have of what you've lost. Let it move you past any sense of feeling displaced.”
“We've got more work to do,” he stressed. “And very important work to do to minister to people that are ripe for the Gospel right now, meaning, I guarantee there are more people addicted than there was 18 months ago. There's more marriages hurting, there are more suicidal thoughts, there's more depression and more loneliness, more brokenness. The Gospel works in any environment ... it's desperately needed right now.”
“Let the opportunity and the needs before you and the power of the Gospel drive you out of whatever pain you have to be compelled into a mission of doing what we're uniquely created to do.”
Groeschel, whose church has 90,000 attendees at its 34 campuses spread over 10 states, admitted that since the pandemic, he’s had to “work through the funk” himself, admitting he’s “woken up so many times” feeling confused and inadequate.
“But then I go back to, the Word of God is everlasting. His Church, the bride of Christ, will endure. We've endured more difficult times than this, and ... we may be moving into some shakiness and persecution. That's exactly what the Church needs to wake her up and to unify her, to go back to preaching the purity of the Gospel maybe in a way that we weren't as compelled to do before.”
Chandler, head of Village Church in Texas, said during his session that though there is a “growing hostility” toward the Church, the Body of Christ was “made for this moment” and stressed the need for discipleship.
“God created us for this moment. Let's step into it with all the zeal of those who understand how the story ends,” he said.
“If the Church believes it's over and we've lost, and it's over ... what an opportunity we just squandered,” he said. “People are more lonely, more desperate. Secularism has been exposed as lacking; our sexual ethics is starting to show the cracks in its ideology. What an opportunity to step in and be this plausibility structure that, life can be different than you see it, life can be different than you know it, and here's a group of people that embody that and believe it and pray and worship and love one another in a way that shows you there's something better than the life you're in.”