Christian Pastors throughout the U.S. are wrestling with how to serve their congregations during the coronavirus pandemic. What will really help people who are sheltering at home? How can church leaders make Easter special? And how can pastors practice good self-care as they navigate these challenges? Last week, Gravity Leadership organized a panel of Christian pastors who shared on Facebook what they are doing to help their church members during this unprecedented time.
“In this crazy season, there are huge challenges for us in how we pastor and how we care,” said Gravity Leadership co-founder Ben Hardman, “and we’re getting lots of questions all over the country from folks asking us…’Hey, how do we pastor through this time?’”
Hardman, who pastors Grace Marietta Church in the Atlanta area, hosted the panel, which took place on April 2. He was joined by the following pastors:
-Gravity Leadership co-founder Ben Sternke, who is planting a church in the northeast suburbs of Indianapolis
-Gino Curcuruto, who pastors at The Table in Philadelphia
-Dan Sadlier, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in New York City
–Nate Pyle, pastor of Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana
-Kristan Dooley, discipleship pastor at Anthem House Church in West Chester, Ohio
Helping Christian Pastors Navigate the Coronavirus
The pastors said their communities were responding to the pandemic in different ways, depending on where they were in the country. Some were not severely affected by it yet, and people were not that worried. But Sadlier, who is in New York City, said his people were just then getting hit with the first wave of their loved ones being in critical condition and passing away.
However, despite the differences present in each of their congregations, the Christian pastors were fairly unified regarding what routines and decisions were benefiting their members.
How Are You Caring for People in Your Church?
Sadlier mentioned that about a month before the crisis hit, church leaders had split their church into smaller groups. This, he said, has been “hugely helpful” for checking in with people since the pandemic hit.
Like many churches, they have been livestreaming their Sunday services. From 8-8:30 every morning, they have a prayer gathering on Zoom and also have different groups that connect on Zoom throughout the week. Sadlier said their online kids ministry has about tripled in the past few weeks and that parents have appreciated anything the church can provide that will help keep their children occupied. “It’s been hard,” he said, “but sweet.”
Pyle echoed the helpfulness of splitting the congregation into smaller groups, saying his church has assigned one elder to every 15 to 20 people in the congregation. For the last few weeks, the elders have called all of the people on their care list to see how they’re doing. “I personally have taken up the lost art of letter writing,” said Pyle. He has been writing notes to all the families in his church and praying over them as he does so. “It’s been really great,” he said. His church has also paired each elder with a deacon in order to have a better awareness about specific financial needs within the congregation.
Dooley said she has been driven by a desire to do life with the people in her church. “My personal conviction was, let’s be in people’s reality,” she said. “I know I can drive to the church, and I know that we can film and use all of our technology and everything that we have, but what if I am stuck at home with my people, and what if we figure out how to bring the gospel in their reality by being in their reality?”
The result was she and her co-pastor have been pre-recording all their talks and sermons at the beginning of the week so they can be home with their families the rest of the week, just like the people in their church are. While she was concerned about the messages remaining timely with how quickly current events are developing, Dooley said this practice has been an opportunity to trust in God and remember how timeless his Word is.