There have been three consistent questions our team has received during the pandemic.
In the first weeks the question was, “When do you think we can return to in-person services?”
As a number of churches began to regather, the question became, “When will more of our church members return to in-person services?”
Today, a common question we get at Church Answers is, “Why are so many of our church members ornery?”
The answer may seem obvious, that we are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. After all, who would not be concerned, frustrated, and uncertain? But as we dug deeper talking with pastors and other church leaders, we began to understand there is no simple response to the latter question.
Indeed, we are finding the “ornery factor” to be more complex than it initially seemed. Here are 10 of the factors putting your church members in a concerned and bad mood:
1. They are weary. The cumulative toll of the pandemic is telling. Some are weary because loved ones and friends have COVID. Some are just tired because of the pandemic in general.
2. They are confused. It’s difficult to get a consistent story about COVID. Even the organizations of expertise don’t seem to be on the same page.
3. They are fearful. It’s easy to tell a believer he or she should not fear. It’s a challenge to fight fear with the barrage of bad news we get every day.
4. They feel like they have lost their church. In some ways, they have lost their church. It will not likely return to the way it was pre-pandemic.
5. They are weary of the cultural fights. In one day, I counted fourteen different cultural issues in the news where one or more groups were fighting others.
6. They are stressed because it’s presidential election season. The four-year cycle is here. It is always a stressful time even without a pandemic.
7. They see so much negativity on social media. Indeed, Facebook and other social media can be harmful to your mental and emotional health. Social media is a magnifying glass to negativity. It gives a voice to those who were rightly ignored in the past.
8. They miss gathering with their friends at church. I know. The church is the people, not the building. I get that reminder daily. But the church is supposed to gather, and digital gatherings just have not sufficiently replaced in-person worship.
9. They have lost their outward focus. One of the reasons for the orneriness is self-focus. When we are focusing on what is wrong in our lives, we are not focusing on reaching and ministering to others. A self-focused church is an ornery church.
10. They lament that their regular patterns have been disrupted. Even the most change-oriented of us need some type of routine in our lives. So many of our routines have been totally disrupted by the pandemic.
If you sense your church members are getting a bit ornery, you are probably right. Indeed, you as a church leader may be struggling with some of these same issues.
Originally published at Church Answers
Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.