Pastoral care doesn’t stop during a crisis. Care may now be more critical than ever! I am not implying that ONE pastor needs to care for ALL members of a church, or even that pastors alone provide care to church members. What I AM asserting is that pastoral care, and care for one another, is essential during our current difficulties.
In our strange ‘new current normal,’ many people are facing depression, anxiety, and loneliness. They need care, but without face-to-face contact, it can be challenging to gauge how someone is really doing.
Church leaders must continue to care for and provide systems for caring for our churches throughout this COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are four ways for you to continue to care for your church during COVID-19:
- Be a daily presence: Many people are currently isolated from others in society. My encouragement is to communicate with your church members consistently. This communication may look like a daily Facebook Live update, a set time for online group prayer, or sending out a daily email. The important thing is that church members continue to experience some level of community, even in isolation.
- Be a calm presence: The world is reacting to this pandemic in fear and chaos. News reports are scary, and no-one knows what the future holds. Fear is human and understandable but also clearly talked about in Scripture. David shows us how to answer fear: “the Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1, ESV). In the middle of panic, be a calm and steady presence for your church, pointing to Jesus and the safety we have in him.
- Assure people of God’s sovereignty: Your own heart needs to remember the Lord’s control every day, and the hearts of your people do too. Assure them of his providence. This crisis all feels like chaos to us, but it’s not a surprise to our Savior, the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Heb. 1:1)
- Look for opportunities: Look for opportunities to love and serve your community, and encourage your church members to do the same. Doug Logan, Acts 29’s VP of Collaboratives, said, “We are Christ-centered, not COVID-centered.” Peter reminded the Christian exiles of their identity and their purpose: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Don’t let this pandemic block your church’s vision for sharing the gospel or caring for others.
As you continue to care for your church, remember to reassess the effectiveness of your pastoral care every week. This evaluation doesn’t need to be a big project. Just take a little time to consider how it’s going: what’s working? What isn’t working? What can be better?
Care may look different now than it did just weeks ago. But it can – and must – keep happening.