|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “You are loved”
Our Bible verse for today: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Protect your church.”
Today’s devotional will be a little longer than normal because the subject I want to address is so important and needs a little extra discussion. Today let’s think about how it is that God expresses His love through the local church. The church is a precious gift from God. It is the place on earth where God’s love is experienced more frequently and more fully than virtually anywhere else. Therefore, it’s important for us to protect our church – especially in the days in which we now live.
Last week I heard from a Pastor-friend of mine in another state who has been a pastor for more than thirty years. He had a big problem in his church and he was considering some strong action to deal with it. He was contending with the same thing that most other pastors are regarding health and safety issues related to the Coronavirus pandemic. He said he had never seen a time like this before when some people in the church was so riled and agitated.
The pandemic is a legitimate health crisis that has to be taken seriously, but to a large degree pastors have limited options in how they can lead their churches through it. There are health factors, Biblical principles, and legal liabilities that all have to be factored in. There are guidelines from every level of government, from church insurance companies, from health professionals and health departments, and from God in the Bible – all of which determine the policies and procedures that have to be implemented in the church. It’s simply a sad reality that difficult situations often exist in our world that necessitate special actions to keep a church safe. For example, most churches these days have child protection plans to safeguard children. They also have safety and security teams and security cameras. Coronavirus protections are no different. The situation with the virus is what it is, and you just have to do what you have to do to deal with it.
But not everyone is happy about that, and not everyone agrees with it. In fact, some people disagree so strongly that they are angry about it. That’s causing great problems for pastors in churches across the land. The problem has become so severe that denominational leaders are sounding the alarm, in articles, blogs, podcasts, and conferences, that our churches are heading for a time of crisis. Satan is being allowed to do destructive things in our churches right now. Pastors are stressed to the point of quitting, and already we’re seeing a lot of pastors leaving their churches. There was an article published recently by the Lifeway Research Group (the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention) warning that over the next two years there will be a mass exodus of pastors leaving ministry, and many churches across the land will close their doors. Two weeks ago, there was an open letter published to Southern Baptist churches written by Dr. Thom Rainer, who is one of the national leaders of our denomination. The title was “Six Reasons Your Pastor Is About to Quit”. It was all about how much trouble some members are causing regarding the Coronavirus issues and what a negative impact that is having on pastors.
Let me be quick to say that my friend is not among the group of pastors who are getting ready to quit, and neither am I. At our church, Oak Hill Baptist, the situation has been much better than in many other churches. It’s true that some of our people have strong opinions and have been unhappy with some policies, and there has been some sparking and some hot emotions, but for the most part things have been relatively peaceful and manageable. But most of you reading this go to other churches in other places, and there’s a chance the situation in your church is more like the situations mentioned in those articles, blogs, and conferences.
The church is supposed to be a place of refuge – a place of fellowship and spiritual nurture. It is where we experience God’s love for us in real and tangible ways. But a church fellowship is a fragile thing that must be cared for and guarded, and that takes extra effort, and sometimes restraint, on all of our parts.
We, the people of God, have a responsibility to protect our churches, physically but especially spiritually. It’s not necessary for you to agree with everything that is said and done. And in some cases, your compliance with policies and procedures isn’t even mandatory. So, give your pastor and your church the grace they need in order to do the things they have to do in order to deal with the situation that exists. Considering all that’s going on in our world today, it is more important than ever for our churches to be healthy and strong.
There’s a crisis brewing in our churches right now. Satan is causing great problems. Regardless of your personal opinions and preferences regarding policies and procedures, it’s up to all of us to head that off and put a stop to it.
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