2020 is over and I’m late to the game. By now, all the other bloggers (I don’t really consider myself a blogger—just a pastor who has a blog) have already told you their favorite books, favorite recipes, favorite memories, and their new resolutions.
One evergreen resolution for a disciple involves prayer. Is there a time where we pray “enough”?
After getting through last year and consider a year that is to come, we could all learn to be slower to speak (Jas 1:19) and quicker to pray (1 Thess 5:17). But what do we pray for? How do we focus? Is prayer just throwing ideas up against the wall and hoping some sticks? And how do we pray in such a way that we are not solely focused on ourselves and our needs. Consider these ways to pray in a new year:
Today is day 334 of the year. We’ve spent roughly 250 of those days with some type of noticeable restriction. In one way, that’s a lot. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian that one time (source), your day is a steady stream of adjusting. In another way, 250 days of having to be restricted, aware of others, and faced with mortality is not a lot. Both perspectives can be true.
One thing remains in either perspective, though: exhaustion. I’ve cycled through more times of sustained irritability than I’m used to—at least three times since March that have resulted in necessary adjustments to my routine(s). I’ve asked forgiveness more than usual and still not as many as I should. These moments aren’t fleeting—at times, they feel like they’ve taken up residence.
You might agree.
Slowing down and thinking about Jesus and what he teaches can go a long way to calm my heart. Consider one of his more famous teachings from The Gospel of Matthew:
11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
We won’t feel rested without going to the right source—without going to Jesus. Even those who abide the most intimately with Jesus must remember this truth. He’s the one who gives rest for our souls. He’s where our exhaustion can be overcome—because he has overcome.
2020 might not change—it might even get worse in some ways. But, when you consider your savior, you can hear the constant call to come to him and rest.
COVID-19 has changed the landscape of almost everything humans do. I mean—think about it—has any day cone by in the past four months where you have not somehow been disrupted or interrupted by this virus? So many routines have changed.
Pastoring is no different. In a few short weeks many of us had to become tech support, live stream aficionados, Zoom meeting schedulers, and home school teachers. We are like many others who have to do the same thing—those kind and loving members of our congregations who had to change their approach to everything. Different, though, is that our “job” includes those people.
I’ve spent time—lots of time—interacting with my pastor friends during the past weeks and months. I don’t speak for all of them, but I definitely speak for some of them. Take a walk through our minds as I share these five things pastors are thinking during the pandemic (especially if your church isn’t “meeting” yet).
Every time someone leaves a church I’m a part of, it hurts. Every time. I don’t have thick skin in that regard—and I don’t think pastors should. Churches are families—a type of family that is deeper than blood yet bought by blood. Any time someone leaves a family, it hurts—even if it is good.
When starting this series, I wanted to address a topic that we don’t talk about but always deal with: people leaving churches. After writing about why to stay, why to leave, and how to leave, I still felt like something was missing. That element: how do pastors handle people leaving?
This post is for anyone, but especially for pastors who have to navigate the weird world of church shuffling.
I’m not sure who signed me up for a subscription to GQ, but I receive a copy every month. I never asked for it and I never wanted it. Still, as sure as the sun rises and sets, GQ shows up in my mailbox. I’ve also unsubscribed to numerous email lists only to never seem to actually be able to leave them. I just stay stuck—you have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do getting out of these subscriptions.
I hope church membership doesn’t feel that way for you, but it might. You can’t escape no matter how hard you try.
We’ve talked about why people leave churches; we’ve talked about why you shouldn’t leave; we’ve even talked about potential reasons to leave. However, I haven’t addressed the inevitable issue: regardless of reasoning, how do you actually leave a church? Is there some type of protocol? That’s what I hope to address here.
Many, if not most, Christians (at least in the States) will leave a church at one point in time. While they might leave because of one of the unstoppable forces, they will still leave. I’ve done it and, more than likely, you’ve done it. While I would rather people stay at their churches, there might come a time when they will leave. The issue, then, is why someone might leave.
Getting into the topic of why someone would leave a church is not easy. Most people want to address the fuzzy middle. (Can I leave because I don’t like the new pastor? Can I leave because my convictions have changed? Can I leave because I like a new church better?) This post is going to start with issues that are clear and then go from there.