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Being a Pastor in a Pandemic. July 2020


Who would have thought even just six months ago we would find ourselves in the strangely dystopian time that is July 2020? We hear every day of medical challenges, social isolation, impending economic disasters…and all prefaced by the word of the moment, “unprecedented.” This is not some dystopian, sci-fi fantasy. This is present tense reality, for many feeling like a scary nightmare come to life.

But as a pastor I can also see this as a time of “unprecedented” spiritual opportunity. Indeed, potentially this might prove to be a season of hearing God’s Word in the world unlike anything seen in our life time.

It won’t surprise you that as a Pastor-Teacher in a local church some of my favourite verses in the Bible are about the Bible?! You might well be familiar with…

All Scripture is God-breathed-2 Timothy 3:16

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?-Jeremiah 23:29

Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night-Psalm 1:1-2

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul-Psalm 19:7

Of course I could go on. Even this morning ‘in church’ (which means at the moment preaching via YouTube) I preached onJesus’ parable of the Sower and the Seed, in Mark 4, which of course is all about how people hear and respond to God’s Word.

It would be like a dream come true for someone like me to have the opportunity to systematically read through and proclaim the Word of God; to do so even on a daily basis to a group of committed listeners would surely then be “out of this world.” ?! Of course, this could never happen? Dream on, Pastor, I hear you say. Yet this is precisely what this pandemic has turned into for me.

From the first moment it dawned on me how serious and dislocating these days were likely to be I knew there was nothing better I could give my time to than to dig deeper into, and share more from, God’s wonderful Word. Of course, this is the constant orientation of a true pastor-teacher during ‘normal’ times. Could a unique and traumatic moment in history such as this present us with special opportunities to do so? Along with this instinct a number of friends in our church suggested straight away we should use various social media platforms for fellowship, teaching, worship, and so on. Soon a YouTube channel was up and running, we were having regular Zoom meetings, and all the things so many churches are now doing around the world quickly became normal for us. As a result I don’t think there’s been a single day since when God’s Word has not been shared in these ways. Of course we are aware of this experience being multiplied literally millions of times worldwide.

I mentioned earlier the parable of the Sower and the Seed. This is very sobering because out of the four types of soil/hearers of God’s Word, only one brings forth true and lasting fruit. Of course, while we sow the seed only God…makes things grow-1 Corinthians 3:7. But with the “unprecedented” exposure people around the planet are getting to God’s Word in these days who knows what He is doing and where all of this will lead? Perhaps further preparation/meditation on passages like Nehemiah 8 and Acts 2 would be helpful. In such historical examples extraordinary times of awakening come from the LORD; always the Word of God is front and centre in such times. When we come out of lockdown if our trust is truly in the LORD and in His Word who knows if the nightmare might indeed soon be a dream come true?!-cf. Psalm 126.

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