Ministering In A Post Covid-19 World
By Pastor Joshua Grimes
I am sure that your world has been turned upside down and sideways by the events plaguing our world right now. Like you, I could never have imagined the reality of what we have been facing recently. If three months ago, you would have told me that all churches throughout the world would cease public services,... I would NOT have believed you. But, here we sit, while still being able to reach out virtually, we desperately miss the personal contact we have with our church families. I know there are a lot of unanswered questions of what church might look like after the coronavirus runs its course. I do not pretend to have all the answers, however, I want to share from my heart about ministering to our churches and communities post Covid-19.
Stay Calm - It is so easy, if you stop and think about it for very long, to get really anxious when thinking about how things have and might change. Some of you are facing some serious financial issues, grief over losses, an overwhelming weight of responsibility to right the ship you have been asked to sail.. so to speak. Just keep in mind, it is God's ship that you are sailing, and He and He alone is responsible for it. I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but remember the exhortation and appeal of scripture.
Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP) Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
Remember the exhortation ends in verse 13 that reiterates, " I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." God would not have you steering the ship if He did not feel that you were qualified to do it! Remember, this did not catch God by surprise, yet he still chose you to ride out the storm and steer the ship during these troubled waters! So... STAY CALM, and trust in the Lord to lead you as you lead others!
Stay True - It is easy when things get tough for us to try and bend and flex with the environment around us! If the Bible was true and relevant 2,000 years ago, it is still true and relevant today! We are living in a time when the church as a whole has compromised truth in the name of relevancy. It is tough times that reveal what we are really made of. Do not let your guard down, and STAY TRUE to who you are and what you believe! The world might not like it, but it is not the world we live to please! Ultimately, I want to hear the Lord say to me "Good and faithful servant I am pleased ." So hold firm and stay true!
Stay the Course - Again, remember that God put a Vision in your heart for the ministry you oversee! If this situation we face today did not take God by surprise, then God still expects us to STAY THE COURSE! That does not mean that there will not be some things we do a little different or even other opportunities for ministry arise, but God still needs us to accomplish what he put before us! Before modern equipment, sailors would sail through the storm by staying the course, while navigating from the stars that stayed constant and were not affected. Likewise, we must stay the course God has put us on and navigate by looking to Jesus, who is not affected by this virus (or anything for that matter). It has been said... "it is not how you start that is as important as how you finish". That is so true. So, stay the course, and finish your race!!! A time of crisis is NOT the time to make long term life choices, but it is a time to hang on, stay the course, and trust God! In doing so, He will lead us! You can take that to the bank!
Capitalize on Open Doors - One of my all-time favorite Bible Teachers once said while ministering to a church I pastored, "Never waste a perfectly good problem". I remember thinking then what you might be thinking now... How can any problem be a good problem?? He went on to explain that a miracle can only happen when you have done all that you can do, then, and only then can something you can not do happen, which is a miracle. So, the minister said... when facing a problem too big for you to handle,.. start looking for YOUR MIRACLE! This Covid-19 crisis falls into this category. This pandemic is way too big for us to handle alone, so... START LOOKING FOR YOUR MIRACLE! If we will stop worrying, and start looking, I think we will find that God is opening doors for us in the mist and through the crises we now face! Years ago, I preached a sermon entitled, "When going through HELL, do not stop and shop". You see, when we are going through a crisis, it is very easy to pick up anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, and other such things that we can not afford! Have you ever gone through a grocery store, pulling things off the shelf, only to find out you did not have enough money with you to buy all of those things you had by the time you made it to the cashier? How embarrassing, right? So, when you feel like you are going through hell, do not stop and shop, stay the course, and look for the open doors that God provides, because we serve a miracle-working GOD!
Capitalize on Open Hearts - In a crisis, people have a tendency to do a lot of introspection and soul searching. That means that their hearts are more open for people to minister truth to them! Do not let this crisis go by and miss out on capitalizing and ministering to the people that we might not ever have this opportunity to minister to again! However, this might even mean people in your own church! How? It is times like this that we can use the open hearts of God's people to lovingly influence them to become the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that needs it! Remember the old promise that God gave to Joshua that " every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you" . Do you think that promise can be applied to the hearts you touch instead of just the places you walk? I believe so, and I consistently ask God for those hearts! So, do not waste a perfectly good crisis and miss capitalizing on the open hearts it helps produce!
Capitalize on Resources - Ask yourself this question. What would you do if money was not an issue? Seriously, in your ministry today, what would you do if money was not a problem or a stumbling block? Do you remember reading and hearing the scripture, " Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.' (Ps50:10)? It simply means that God can afford it... period! I have found through experience that God gives us a vision before we see provision! Why? Probably, because, if we had provision before vision, we might more easily squander God's provisions on things that God has not lined up for us! So, never underestimate God's ability to provide for what He places in our hearts! The same teacher that said "do not waste a perfectly good problem... in that same message, he also said, "do not wait for your miracle, but be willing to go looking for it"! You see, sometimes miracles do not just fall into our laps, but in our faith to go looking for them, we will find them! Waiting can cause discouragement, but looking is like a treasure hunt. Who does not like a good old treasure hunt?! So, when God places something on your heart (vision), start the treasure hunt of how God can and will provide for it! Sometimes miracles do not just come wrapped under our tree, but we find them when we are willing to search and open doors to look for them! If God guides, God will PROVIDE!
Always, Always, Always have fun! - Can I be open and honest with you? If you are not having fun doing ministry, then you are NOT doing it right! That does not mean that we will not have difficult moments or situations. That does not mean that we will not face opposition at times. Likewise, it does not mean that there will not be parts of the ministry that we do not necessarily like. However, regardless of these things, overall, the ministry needs and should be fun, because we serve a God who is concerned with us; and remember, He made a significant investment into our joy! I get people who ask all the time, "do you like what you do?," or "how do you like your job/ministry?" I always answer that question in two ways. First, if it were not fun, I would make it fun, because God wants me to have fun. Secondly, I answer it by saying, when you are in the middle of God's calling on your life, it is fun, because you have His JOY! I remember years ago while pastoring in Indiana, the school principal asked me if I would consider helping the school out by being a substitute teacher. I remember thinking, this is a great way to help build relationships with the kids and to then in turn show them the love of Christ. Though most teachers I came to know loved being a teacher, there was a small group of teachers that I will never forget sitting down to have lunch one day. While eating my lunch in the teacher's lounge, I overheard a small group of teachers complaining about the kids, the work, and everything else you can imagine. I remember feeling my own enthusiasm over the opportunity given to me to help influence kids starting to wane. In my mind, I was thinking "if it is that bad, why are you even a teacher"?!! My curiosity and unbridled boldness lead me to ask, "Why did you become a teacher?" NOT ONE PERSON said for the money, the hours, or the benefits, etc. Almost all of them said something like.. "for the love of teaching," "because I loved kids," or because I wanted to make a difference in kids' lives." I then thought to myself... What changed? Luckily, I was able to bridle my tongue and ponder their answers. I remember thinking, Lord, never allow me to lose the love for what I am called to do!!! You see, somehow and in some way, these teachers lost their first love, and it caused them to focus hard on secondary situations and circumstances. Have you lost your first love? Do you remember when the ministry was fun and exciting? If so... what changed? Or what needs to change for ministry to be fun for you again! I have been in ministry for more than 30 years, and I am having just as much fun today as I did the first time I preached my first sermon! Again, that does not mean I have not endured hardships or disappointments, but I can seriously say that the ups are far more pronounced and considerably outnumber the downs. Do not let the butterflies go!!! Return to your first love, and make the ministry fun again! After this crisis passes, and even while going through it, "the joy of the Lord is our strength"!!! Do not forget that!
Will ministry look different in a post Covid-19 world. Yes, it probably will, but if we would focus on these seven things, we can and will make the best of it! I can honestly say that the best is yet to come, because the greatest and most significant revival the world has ever experienced or seen will happen in the last of the last days... and I, for one, want to be a part of it!!!
Pastor Joshua Grimes
Pastor Joshua Grimes has been in ministry for more than 30 years, with over 25 of those years as a church planter and pastor. Pastor Josh now serves as the Regional Executive Director (pastor to the pastors) of Open Bible East Churches, a family of churches that are committed to; Making disciples, raising up leaders, fostering healthy churches and ministers, planting new churches, and sending and supporting missionaries. Pastor Josh has been married to his queen and the love of his life Melissa for 30 years and is the father of two adult children Hannah Joy and Caleb. When not ministering and fulfilling his calling in life, Pastor Josh can be found enjoying God's creation by going on adventures with his wife and kids, enjoying nature, hunting, or riding his motorcycle.