By Bob Fox
For almost thirty years, I was a pastor. During that time, there were always a few things I wanted to say to my church members but did not.
I was always reticent for fear that they would sound selfish or might be taken in the wrong way. I always hoped there was some champion in the congregation who would voice these concerns with others on their own. If they did, it would both keep me from having to do so and would be taken more seriously coming from someone other than myself.
On that note, I want to share some of the things I would be reluctant to say as a pastor during the coronavirus outbreak. I want to be one of the champions for our clergy that I always knew I needed.
Your minister(s) is/are working harder than ever in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic even if the office is closed. In addition to becoming experts on public health, communications and technology, they have had to totally re-imagine what ministry looks like if the building is empty on Sunday and they are always six feet away. The ministers of CBF are up close people and practicing social distance is not in their nature!
Your minister(s) need/needs to have permission (and encouragement) from the congregation to take some time away metaphorically if not literally. When the office moves totally to the home it brings all sorts of challenges of determining where work ends and the rest of life begins. When your work moves to Facebook, scrolling social media, texts and such, the deluge of it further intermingles and intrudes on every waking moment. The infinite scroll can become a vortex of need where the minister is suddenly always available and always expected. Please take the time to make sure that your minister/ministers is/are disconnecting and recharging so that they can continue their excellent work.
Your minister(s) is/are carrying not only the anxiety and insecurity that you are, they are walking with the anxiety and insecurity of each member of your entire congregation.
You may be concerned about your employment, your finances or your family situation. The ministers of CBF have those thoughts for themselves, but they also carry them for everyone else in the church. Are you sharing your minister(s) burdens?
On that note, now is a time that many churches most need to be most generous with their tithes and offerings both to address the unique opportunities that now exist and to make sure that the folks they employ are not personally worried about their finances. Do not neglect your tithes and offerings during these days!
Your minister(s) is/are having to make difficult decisions with conflicting guidance. They are hearing from a variety of voices about what is best. Please try to support the decisions they make even if they might not be the decision you would make.
Do more than just offer personal support. Share this support publicly both with your fellow church members and with them personally. Take the time to reach out and thank them for their leadership in uncharted waters! Make sure now, more than ever before that your minister/s know that you support and appreciate them. Say a word, send a card, share a small gift with these leaders who are tending the needs of the body of Christ.
I am thankful for all the ministers in CBF who are helping us follow Christ together!
Bob Fox serves as the Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Kentucky.