I don’t know how many blogs you read, but if you have read any posts from anyone in ministry over the past couple of years, you’ll know I mean it when I say MINISTRY IS HARD.
Sure, it’s easy to blame the current (and past) worldwide health situation. I often say that if anyone wants an excuse not to go to church, they’ll find one. Well, the world found one.
But if it was just that, wouldn’t all our churches be full again? Sure, there are lingering effects, fear, some illness, and a lot of caution. But if as ministers of the Gospel truly believe the Good News we proclaim is the best news anyone can hear, wouldn’t the people of God be flooding back to the church as soon as it was in any way possible? If not, why not?
As Ron Edmondson put it in “A Strong Word for Some of My Pastor Friends,” we as pastors need to understand that many of those who left simply will not be coming back. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but if we can’t operate in reality, we operate in delusion. I think he’s correct, unfortunately. But with that understanding is the further understanding that our churches are now filled with different people. Maybe fewer for now. Or maybe fewer for a while. But the church as it currently exists is the only church that actually DOES exist.
And that is the church to which we must faithfully minister.
Do we reach out to the estranged? Absolutely. Some have fallen out of the habit of attending and need a reminder that the church is still around. Some need affirmation that the church still cares. Others may prefer their occasional live stream viewing when convenient. And still others may just be done. But if someone does not come back, that is not a defeat. It’s not up to the pastor to win them back.
The win is in being faithful.
Trying to encourage those who have stepped away to step back in the fold to be shepherded once again. Letting them know that they are missed. And continuing to minister to the church that remains. New folks, long-timers, and everything in between.
Because they are real.