You can pour over Scriptures all day if you want—we know you’ve recently been given some time to do so—but you’ll never find a how-to manual for how to pastor during a global pandemic. The Bible makes no mention of “social distancing.” No chapter gives a point-by-point rundown on how to do Communion when you can’t do Communion.
If you think it’s been rough for you, try to imagine what it must be like for your pastor. He’s having to resort to things outside of his wheelhouse just to keep connected with the church. He never anticipated a need to be a virtual shepherd. There wasn’t a seminary class for that.
And so Meadowood, like much of the rest of the local church, has had to discover how to minister in these days, pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones and the normal ways of doing things to stay connected with you, to keep you connected with others, and to (most of all) help you remain connected with Christ Jesus.
Sunday morning worship is now live streamed on Facebook. Meadowood Kids and Meadowood Youth are embracing video measures to provide regular times of study, growth and virtual community. Some Sunday School classes (or Community Groups) have adopted conferencing software to remain in the Word, to pray together and to experience fellowship.
The change has been unprecedented. All of this has transpired in a relatively short time frame. Just think, a little over two weeks prior to this post, Meadowood was pretty much normal and getting ready for the usual Spring Break.
It’s all different now.
These technological advancements for Meadowood entail a pretty steep learning curve, and you have probably witnessed a marked difference from the first live broadcast to the most recent. We’ve still got a lot to learn as we aim ourselves at excellence.
None of this is like anything we could’ve adequately planned for. Meadowood has a long history of “in-person” ministry throughout the Mid-Del area (and around the world through missions), but traditional ministry doesn’t seem to be possible in the current circumstances.
To limit the spread of the coronavirus, authorities have shut down gyms, an arena Bob is ever so adept at leveraging for gospel conversations. Bible studies have moved online, leaving our pastor to spend more time in front of a camera than with the people he loves and has been called to serve.
Shepherding is challenging work and it necessitates being with/among the sheep. It requires constant attention to the flock and the surroundings while maintaining both a tender, compassionate heart and a steadfast courage to care for and defend God’s sheep.
Throw the chaos of digital ministry atop that and you’ve got a recipe for discouragement and frustration.
Yet, the Lord promises He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is present. He is not frightened by our present season and will not back down in fear or take some time away until all this clears over. He has sovereignty and victory over it all.
As you ponder the presence of God in these days, pray for each other. But pray also—and earnestly!—for the heart of your pastor/shepherd. He is burdened with more than you might imagine and is learning to do ministry and care for you in different ways while still guiding us and calling others to God’s heart.
Three Ways You Can Pray for Bob and the Meadowood Staff:
- Pray for peace. Almost everyone has had his/her rhythms shaken up a bit. Office life at Meadowood is no different. Sometimes routine can be a pretty good anchor for ministry, but when that routine is broken, it can increase the sense of frustration and discouragement. Pray against these feelings and for the God of all comfort to bring lasting peace in the lives of our staff.
- Pray for endurance. No one knows how long things will be like this, and we’re all trying to do the best we can. The good news is we know the One who does know the length of this season, and the end of it has always been in His sight. Pray our leaders will endure the challenging season, dive into Scripture for strength and continue to serve with all the energy that Christ powerfully works within them.
- Pray for joy. God calls us to rejoice in all things. More than just putting a smile on our faces, we must drink deeply of God’s abiding presence to find joy and allow it to radiate through us. Joy may be one of the most difficult endeavors we will face. Things come at us from all angles, and strike at our joy with reckless abandon. Pray that Bob and each member of the staff will deepen their roots into the rich soil of joy God offers and provides for those who seek for it in Him.