After co-hosting my church’s online service last weekend, I logged onto the service-stream of a friend’s church in another state.
“Carl” (not his real name) was focusing on the “Hurry Sickness” that afflicts our culture (well before COVID-19 descended on us). He believes God is exposing this soul-sickness in the midst of this pandemic-sickness. God, he said, is “exposing things that, had we carried on as we were, we never would have taken time to look at, pay attention to, or evaluate.” Carl pointed out that busy-ness and productivity have become “gods” to some of us, and that we have an opportunity now to “re-boot.” He called it a “holy pause.” Finally, he said, “God didn’t cause it (referring to the coronavirus), but He is using it.”
Afterward, I texted Carl and his wife…
Me: Such a powerful and relevant message. Ya know, between us, productivity isn’t a god to me; it’s like an obligation. I fight to keep a healthy perspective, but it’s a fight.
Carl: Same, friend. I think God may be completely rearranging the PACE of His church in this time. What else could speak louder to a non-believing culture than Peace, Joy, Pace, Margin, etc. “I want that!!”… I believe they would say.
Me: Yes! It almost feels guilty to say (as I and a few other friends have) that as much as I wouldn’t wish the COVID crisis on anyone, I love doing church at home. I’m not experiencing the isolation of strict quarantine that many are, and still working as much as before. So not actually going to church every weekend is the one slow-down many of us in ministry are experiencing. And it’s welcome. I feel like God the Father is cupping our faces in his paternal hands, glad to have our full attention. Captivating us…differently.
Carl: I have so many pastor friends saying, “We don’t want this to end.” We are saying it privately, of course.
Me: Wow. And yes. That’s so real. But it’s sad, in a way.
Carl: And revealing.
Me: Ugh. Well, at least you/I know it’s not an isolated feeling. (No pun intended.)
At the end of our exchange, Carl texted: “It’s not any one leader doing anything wrong in this crisis. But you said it: it’s revealing… And I don’t assume my/your experience is every ministry leader’s experience. But, in fact, your texts are validating. Sometimes I feel like I must be the biggest ministry weenie out there because I just can’t keep up. It’s the nature of ministry in general, but there is something about the culture of big-church ministry that can’t keep up.” Then I asked my friend, “Do small and medium church leaders feel this as well?” He replied, “Yes. Medium at least.” And then he added: “It’s not just big church—it’s our whole culture.”