By Lawrence Powers
Just over three months ago I became head Pastor of a church, my first pastorate. The first few months went very well as I got to know the people in our congregation, became adjusted to crafting weekly sermons, and began to adjust to the rhythms of the congregation. Things were going very well, until COVID-19 began to spread.
Ever since then, I’ve felt like I’ve been scrambling to continue giving our congregation opportunities to engage and gather. None of us were prepared for this, and our faith connections are too important to just drop them. Our “moving our congregation online” has been interesting as some of our members have gone very few Sundays not sitting in a pew in our sanctuary over the years. They have been faithful, as have newer attendees, to being present in our building week-in and week-out. Every Sunday we can’t gather pains me, but I know it is what is best for the wellness of our community.
In the midst of this scrambling, I’ve also been reading posts by other pastors on social media. As a new Senior Pastor, I try and tune in to the ideas and thoughts of those who’ve been at it longer than me so that I might draw wisdom from them. One thing that has struck me is how many of them are out there pretending like they had a plan for this, like they know exactly what they’re doing, and like they have an answer to all of this chaos.
Authenticity and transparency are important traits from a pastor, so I might as well just come out and say it: I have no idea what I’m doing.
Sure, my years in young adult ministry prepared me to plan streamed worship services, facilitate Zoom calls, and build our website around the new reality. That said, I still have no idea what the best plan forward is, nor what tomorrow will bring with it. I refuse to even pretend that I do. I am doing the best I can, but I do worry with you all about what’s next. My ministerial ordination does not make me immune to anxiety, depression, worry, or fear.
What I do know is that God is with us in this mess. I believe firmly that God did not cause this – as some are prone to saying – but that God is with us in it. I do not believe that God desires our repentance before healing with come, nor that God is punishing us for some unspoken sin. God is with us, God is not punishing us.
So, I pray each day that God hears our prayers. I pray each day that people will know God’s presence. I pray each day that people will love God “with all of their minds” to make wise choices and do what is best to be good neighbors to those around them.
No, I don’t have all the answers to this pandemic. I do not know what the path ahead looks like. Really, I promise that I have no idea what I’m doing.
I simply trust that God is with us in this. I believe that the Church of Christ is bigger than any physical gathering held in a building. I know that the table of Christ still unites us, even when we can’t be together in person.
We will find a way forward and God will be there with us when we do.
Lawrence Powers serves as the senior pastor of Benson Baptist Church in Benson, N.C.