By Matt Henslee
In just a few short weeks, a lot has changed—and fast. The stock market has turned into a roller coaster, public health orders have been issued left and right, and our normal way of life has come to a screeching halt.
And yet, we continue to remind our people what hasn’t changed: God is on His throne. In these trying times, what a joy to know God is in control and His plans march on.
As you hunker down for a bit, pastor, here are a few encouragements:
1. Increase Bible reading and prayer
Let’s get in the Word and spend time in prayer. Let’s sing a bit, too! And with social distancing, no one but your dog will know if you’re out of tune.
With extra downtime, it is easy to waste it away. Instead, study His Word and pray! Get up, brew some coffee, grab your Bible, pray, read Scripture, and pray some more.
Also, while we may be physically separated from our people, consider turning what you learn each morning into a short email devotional for your church members. This will help our flock start the day on the right foot.
2. Decrease TV, social media, and endless coronavirus coverage
We need to stay informed, especially so we can make timely decisions for our churches. However, being obsessed with the news doesn’t do us any good.
Instead, grab that book you’ve been meaning to read, and, well, read it. If you have kids, let them pick out a game and make some memories with them.
If you’re married, share a bowl of Blue Bell and listen to some Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton duets. Whoever’s last to cry has to do the dishes.
I try to “check in” for updated news after my morning Bible study and prayer time. This puts me in the best position mentally and spiritually to process the update, know what’s going on, and then move on with the day.
3. If possible, get outside
For now, it shouldn’t be around others, of course. And it doesn’t have to be in public parks, especially if that’s discouraged. But if you’re able, take a hike or go for a run.
Remember that dog that heard you singing out of tune earlier? He might need a mental health break. Your voice has scarred him for life. Grab the leash and go for a walk.
Since we live in the mountains, my family climbs the mountain behind our home after dinner. This has offered us some much-needed fresh air.
Find a place you can get out to appreciate creation and worship the Creator.
4. Pick up the phone and call some folks
Without the ability to go out to eat (though maybe order take-out so local restaurants will be around to serve us in the future) and spend time with others, we need to find some simple ways to maintain communication with one another.
If your church has a directory, work your way through the list. Ask how they’re doing, pray with them, and just chat. Again, though physically separated, let’s remain emotionally and spiritually connected.
5. Make the most of whatever you’re doing on Sunday
This Sunday, our church is having a “drive-in church.” Yours might be live-streaming. Whatever it is, make an event out of it—lemonade out of lemons.
Encourage your folks to get up, have breakfast with their families, grab their Bibles, and then participate in whatever you’re doing prayerfully, expectantly, and worshipfully, and then discuss what they heard as a family. Maybe, just maybe, He’s providentially giving us some downtime to spend in His Word and prayer, invest in our families and church members in creative ways, and using all of the above to bring about revival.
While we might be surprised by how quickly things have changed, God isn’t.
Maybe, just maybe, He’s providentially giving us some downtime to spend in His Word and prayer, invest in our families and church members in creative ways, and using all of the above to bring about revival.
That is my prayer–join me!
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is managing editor of LifeWay Pastors and coauthor of the book Replanting Rural Churches. He is the husband of Rebecca, father of four princesses, and pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico.