Today, I'm just thinking about questions I never thought I'd have to ask in ministry, such as:
1. What's the best way to do "drive-in" church? We would never have thought about this option when I started pastoring in 1981; in fact, my first church barely had a parking lot!
2. Will hospital administrators grant me permission to make pastoral visits to inpatient members and friends? I do understand precautionary steps that hospitals (and others) have had to take, but I also want to do in-person ministry.
3. What will it be like to preach to people in masks? I'm not sure which is more challenging—preaching to people via a camera or preaching to a masked congregation.
4. How will I pastorally lead vulnerable folks who decide they won't gather again with a congregation? I don't know how often that will happen, but I will need wisdom and patience to guide them again into active membership—whatever that means.
5. How will we reinstate preschool and children's ministries? I understand the immediate concerns about social distancing with these groups, but we'll have to figure out how to do these ministries safely and well.
6. Will my ego be bruised by preaching to smaller groups spread out in multiple services and in multiple rooms? Maybe I'm the only pastor who wrestles with pride, but I think these changes will test my heart.
7. Will we require all staff members to take their temperatures before each worship service, at least for the near future? Health experts and others are recommending such a step, but it sure feels odd.
8. Will we sing during the worship service? This debate is an ongoing one right now, but what's not debatable is that most of never dreamed we'd have to ask the question.
9. How do I baptize someone while maintaining proper social distance? I don't see how it's possible to immerse someone from at least 6 feet away. So do I wait to do the baptism until distancing is no longer an expectation? Perhaps have a family member do it?
10. How will we fit fewer people into our building? I have a Ph.D. in evangelism and church growth. I never want to idolize numbers, but I do think they matter. I don't generally ask questions about reducing and separating the crowd.
11. How do we reach our neighbors when we're all sheltering in place? There are ways, of course, but that's not the point. The point is that I never expected the question.
What unexpected questions have you had to ask?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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