By Meredith Cook
Like most people in the world, we’ve been staying at home for weeks as countries try to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s been a strange time.
My husband, who works with pastors, has been working from home, and I’ve watched him spend most of his time talking with pastors in our city over video calls.
All of them are in the same boat—transitioning their church’s functions online, seeking wisdom on how to serve and encourage their church members, how to continue reaching their neighborhoods, and trying to determine the best strategy for reopening.
Pastors carry a lot of weight and wear a lot of hats, but it seems they’re doing so now more than ever. Here are some ways I’ve been praying—and am continuing to pray—for pastors and churches in this season.
1. Gospel Witness
At the beginning of this year—before anyone knew we’d be staying at home all the time—I read through Acts.
Then, after stay-at-home orders began, I was reminded of the numerous passages in Acts that illustrate how the gospel went forth in the world amid circumstances that were quite hostile to the gospel.
Persecution, martyrdom, separation from other believers, shipwrecks, and house arrests didn’t stop Christ-followers from proclaiming the gospel.
Most of our circumstances aren’t quite that extreme, but being forced to stay at home doesn’t seem very conducive to the spread of the gospel.
But Jesus won’t be left without a witness, and the gospel can still go forth in this time.
- I’m praying that the transition to virtual church, though hopefully temporary, will serve to reach those who may not be willing or able to set foot inside a church building.
- I’m praying that pastors will clearly proclaim the gospel every week to a larger audience than usual.
- I’m praying that church members will take this as an opportunity to proclaim truth (from six feet away, of course) to the people around them who need the hope of the gospel.
- I’m praying the Lord will use this time to bring glory to His name and expand His kingdom.
2. Missionary Care
My inbox is filled with updates from missionary friends all over the world who are on strict lockdown in their countries of service or have taken evacuation flights back to the US for what’s hopefully a temporary leave of absence.
These are uncertain times, but especially so for a lot of overseas workers who aren’t sure what the next few months hold, how long they’ll be in limbo, how their ministry will be affected, etc.
- I’m praying that pastors and churches won’t forget these missionaries and will care for them well.
- I’m praying that pastors will be able to wisely counsel these missionaries as they determine how they should move forward.
- I’m praying the church will be the support system it needs to be for missionaries during this time.
3. Wisdom on Reopening
As stay at home orders begin to lift and the country slowly begins to reopen, many pastors are considering how to reinstate in-person corporate worship gatherings.
That conversation will go differently in every church and is likely to cause conflict.
A pastor in a city where social gatherings have been more highly restricted will likely take a different approach to reinstate corporate worship than a pastor in a small town.
- I’m praying for wisdom for pastors, leaders, and churches as they determine when, and how, they should start gathering in-person again.
- I’m praying for grace-filled conversations as multiple perspectives, opinions, and strategies will abound.
- I’m praying for faithful church members who’ll encourage and support their pastors and, eventually, wisely and joyfully return to corporate worship without fear.
This is something I always pray for pastors, but especially so during this time.
Many pastors have been working overtime to make sure they’re caring well for their church members, putting extra effort into staying in touch and meeting needs.
I imagine this time has been rather exhausting for pastors and perhaps extra burdensome as they help church members through potential sickness, job loss, discouragement, and loss of loved ones.
- I’m praying these pastors won’t grow weary of doing the work God has called them to do.
- I’m praying they’ll persevere when ministry is hard.
- I’m praying they’ll find rest and strength in the Lord.
MEREDITH COOK (@meredithcook716) is the wife of Keelan and a brand-new mom. She’s also an M.Div. graduate in missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.