Hang Tough! This Too Shall Pass.
Since the emergence of COVID, I have preached in dozens of churches, and served as interim pastor of two. Sunday after Sunday I have seen partially filled worship centers and heard church leadership explain how many they had “prior to COVID.” Attendance seems to be down everywhere. In an attempt to serve their congregations, churches have provided online worship and live-streamed worship services. One church even speaks weekly of their internet membership. Another recently baptized a family that had driven from another state, having worshiped at the church online. While churches have ministered to home bound members and reached previously unchurched folks, we have also taught people that they can remain in the comfort of their home, in their pajamas, seated in their recliners, with coffee cup in hand, and worship online, even switching churches if they are offended or unimpressed. One of the saddest things I’ve seen is the discouragement that has swept over ministers, unable to visit hospitalized members, preaching to half-empty worship centers, fellowshipping only while wearing a mask and keeping a distance. A recent survey by Barna Research showed 38% of pastors have thought about quitting the full-time ministry. Some will find this article to be too negative focused. Others will sadly agree with my thoughts. I have no easy solution. I do pray daily for the ministers that I know- for encouragement and endurance. I’m not sure what all Titus was facing in Crete, but Paul prayed for him and reminded him why he had been left in Crete. I once heard a sermon from Titus 1:5, preached to pastors, entitled, “Stay in Crete.” I had a Coach once who, in the midst of a difficult season, repeatedly said, “This too shall pass” – attributing it to the Bible, even though the exact quote is not in the original scripture. Perhaps his more appropriate words for today’s ministers were, “Hang tough!”