COVID-19, regathering, and dying to self
We have catered to our congregations for so long without calling followers of Christ to die to their own preferences for the sake of others.
I’m beginning to see a lot of helpful articles posted online regarding how to address potential divisions in the church as we prepare to gather again in our churches.
For sure, our church members will be divided in opinion as to whether they should wear a mask or not and whether our churches should follow all the guidelines outline by the governor or not. However, I think this potential crisis exposes a deeper crisis in our churches. It is one that we as pastors have been responsible for enabling. It is the crisis of catering.
By catering, I don’t mean the act of providing food. (I know where Baptist minds go immediately). I am referring to the attempt to satisfy perceived needs or demands. In our consumeristic age, too many pastors have been guilty of leading by simply following the whims of the congregation.
We seek to accommodate music styles and the length of sermons. We speak about the societal sins that we know those in our congregation already condemn but avoid those that might make them uncomfortable.
I was struck this morning reading the account of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24. Balak attempted to buy a prophecy from Balaam, but Balaam refused to negotiate the Word of God. We must speak all the Word of God to the people of God.
The kingdom we proclaim is not of this world. We should not bow to any political party but celebrate what is good and right regardless of the political ramifications and denounce what is evil and wrong regardless of the political ramifications.
Because we have catered to our congregations for so long without calling followers of Christ to die to their own preferences for the sake of others, regathering amidst a time of great division on how and when will indeed be a crisis for many of our churches.
It reminds me of a crisis a few years ago when a particular sin became culturally acceptable and began to make inroads into our churches. When on a panel I was asked by a pastor how to respond to those living this lifestyle, I replied that we should respond the exact same we do with any other member or potential member living in unrepentant sin.
Sadly, that had no meaning for many pastors because they simply had no category for this in the life of their church. Similar to my response to the pastor, I would say in this crisis that we should respond the same way we do with every other difference of opinion within the church.
That doesn’t mean to have separate services for every possible group with a different opinion, but to call everyone to love one another by putting aside their own preferences for the good of the body. I hope that is a category your church can understand. If not, this is a great opportunity to remind your church of the biblical teachings regarding preferring one another and our unity in Christ. This is a crisis of catering. This is a crisis of leadership.
Editors’ note: This article was originally published at Kentucky Today.