You pastors and church leaders have been through so much. While others have likewise had severe challenges, pastors have truly had one challenge after another.
You lead an organization that is designed to meet and gather. You lead a church that by its very nature seemed shackled by the pandemic. You had to lead both a virtual church and deal with real in-person needs. Many of you had never preached to a camera before COVID.
Now, most of you are seeing your church regather. For sure, not everyone is back, but at least you are meeting in person. And for many of you, this past weekend was an incredible time of celebration of the resurrection. But you had to work hard during Holy Week. Many of you had multiple services throughout the week.
It was a celebration. It was a great occasion. But it was also exhausting.
What do you do now?
I know many of you already have packed calendars, so my question is not as much one of activities as it is the higher-level issue of priorities. I have worked with pastors and church leaders for over 30 years. May I make a few suggestions so that you might regain your physical, emotional, and spiritual stamina? For now, I will limit my excursion to five steps to sanity.
- Rest. I mean it. I don’t know what your perfect definition of rest is, but you need to learn to rest. It might mean taking a deep breath or a short break. It might mean sleeping more hours. It might mean saying no a few more times.
- Return to Acts 6:4. Make a commitment to spend more time in prayer and the Word. Put both items on your calendar. Keep the commitment. You can’t work effectively for Jesus until you have a full relationship with Jesus. That comes by prayer. That comes by being in the Word consistently.
- Remember your church’s address. Seriously. God gave you the current location of your church for a reason. The location of your church’s physical address is not an accident. Yes, you are a pastor to a church. But you are also a minister to your community. Get to know leaders in your community better. Walk around the neighborhoods where your church is located. Look fresh at the Acts 1:8 Jerusalem where God has called you.
- Develop relationships and community with other pastors. This approach really works well when you get to know your peers in the community. And we would love to have you at Church Answers where nearly 2,000 pastors and other church leaders gather digitally 24/7 in a safe environment.
- Make a commitment to lead your church outwardly. You don’t have to jump into a massive outreach program immediately. But get a mindset that is ready to move church members beyond themselves and beyond the walls of the church buildings. You probably saw the recent research by Barna Research. Fewer than one-half of Americans now identify with a church. The United States is one of the largest mission fields in the world. Serve that mission field. Reach that mission field.
Easter is over. But the work of ministry on this side of Heaven is never over. Thank you, pastors. Thank you, church staff. You deserve more than mere words of gratitude. But, for now, please know that many of us love you, support you, and pray for you.
Easter is over. But your greatest future is just ahead.
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.
Rainer has written over 30 books, including three that reached number one bestseller: I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, and Simple Church. His new book, The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation, is available now.