On any normal Sunday, pastors minister to a cross section of people. Young and old. Immature and mature. Weak and strong. Struggling and stable. Liberal and conservative. Vocal and quiet. Extroverts and introverts. Givers and takers. Participants and spectators. Sinners and saints.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a whole new dimension of opinions and viewpoints. As churches begin to reopen and start meeting again, pastors are once again placed firmly in the middle with the challenge of ministering to people on various stages of the spectrum.
|On the one hand||
On the other hand
|Stay home and stay safe||
End the lockdown
|The virus is deadly||
The lockdown is politically motivated
|The crisis is real||
It’s all a hoax
|Face masks are required||
Face masks don’t work
|Self-isolation keeps people safe||
Self-isolation is killing the economy
|Flatten the curve / Find a cure / Wait for a vaccine||
The goalposts keep changing
|Churches are non-essential||
Worship is a First Amendment Right
|Churches should not have corporate worship because singing is dangerous and spreads the virus||
Scripture tells me to praise God through singing
|Practice social distancing||
I show compassion by hugging
The writings of the apostle Paul provide pastors with a good model of how to minister to a divided church. 1 & 2 Corinthians in particular were written to a church divided over party politics, spiritual gifts, role of women, practice of worship, church discipline, and a number of other issues. Paul’s emphasis was to get the church to focus on Christ and Christ alone (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
In the book of Romans, Paul gave counsel as how to act when you find yourself on the opposite side of the table from another believer. Paul encouraged both parties to place themselves under the authority of the government leaders (13:1-7), seek to love one another (13:8-14), not to pass judgment on someone who holds a different opinion (14:1-12) and not to cause another person to stumble because you believe your position is “right” and their opinion is “wrong” (14:12-23).
While we as pastors cannot please every person and satisfy every whim, we do need to be gracious as we serve all those who are present. As we do, we must keep our focus on God and seek to please him above all.