I have a lot of hope for the church these days. The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to look at ourselves and make some necessary decisions to move forward in today's chaos.
On the other hand, I won't be surprised if some pastors resign, possibly unexpectedly, after normal—whatever that is—returns.
1. Some are just worn out. The stress of the first days of COVID-19 may seem like a hundred years ago, but the same pastors who worked nonstop for months still face the stress of almost daily changes. Some are hanging on right now because of the crisis, but they're losing steam.
2. Some were already wrestling about their role prior to COVID-19. They were already thinking about stepping down in early spring, and some will take that step when the timing seems more appropriate. Prior questioning, current fatigue or better timing might eventually lead to resignation.
3. Some were already talking to another church prior to COVID-19, or they've begun that conversation in the last few months. These strange days have affected the ways churches seek a pastor, but the search continues. Some pastors have stayed where they are for the good of the church today, but their heart is already leaning elsewhere.
4. Some pastors' churches that were struggling before COVID-19 are now facing the reality of their church struggling even more. In some cases, the church may need to reduce salaries and benefits, and the pastor may need to find other employment. In other cases, the pastor may simply have lost a vision for guiding the church to growth.
5. Some, I fear, will resign because of marital and family issues exacerbated by the stress of these days. None of us is immune from relational struggles, and the strain of sheltering at home and quarantining has only compounded these struggles for some—including pastors.
6. Some—particularly those who did not quickly learn to shepherd their church from a social distance—may have lost a bit of their heart for their congregation. Other factors may well contribute to the decision, but any emotional distancing can become a first step toward dislodging oneself from a church leadership role.
So what's my point with this post? Even pastors I know are struggling still want to be in the center of God's will. Let's pray for, encourage and love those God has called to guide His church!
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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