We are living in unique days as a human race as we navigate through this global COVID-19 pandemic. The church of Jesus is likewise faced with added challenges and obstacles throughout this entire pandemic. Whereas bars and restaurants are not mandated by God to assemble—the church has received such a mandate. So, during a season of social distancing, we must recognize the challenges for God’s people—and especially the leaders of local churches.
Unless your pastor is asleep at the wheel—it’s quite possible that he has logged far more hours each week during this pandemic than normal as he seeks to overcome the challenges of membership care and the use of technology to reach out to the people of God under his care. Can you imagine Martyn Lloyd-Jones thinking through the use of technology to preach during a pandemic? Pastors, who were never able to take the COVID-19 pandemic preaching elective are being forced to overcome challenges on a weekly basis.
Throughout this last month, you’ve probably watched another church’s livestream, if for no other reason, out of curiosity. It’s quite possible that you had one of two common reactions. You were probably very impressed with the level of production or you experienced a feeling of embarrassment for the church due to the lack of quality and proper use of technology.
Most pastors do not have a professional production team who have the capabilities and equipment to pull off a proper livestream of great precision and quality for their local church. In some cases, the pastor is using his smartphone as he stands in front of a wall decorated with family pictures in his home. In many cases, the quality of the video is poor—filled with a grainy image or extremely pixilated. In other cases, depending on his upload speed and Internet connection—your pastor may be simply recording the audio of his sermon on his iPhone and uploading it to a free audio service where the link can be e-mailed to the church. Yes, it has very poor audio quality, but it’s the very best he can do at this time.
During this season of social distancing as we navigate through this pandemic, allow me to encourage you to turn off the mega-church pastor with super vivid quality HD video and a professional production team laboring to monitor his livestream bitrate. I want to encourage you to listen to your pastor’s words very clearly during this season in church history. Don’t worry about the pixilated video or the squeaky audio that can be distracting at times and hard to follow. Sit up on the edge of your seat with your Bible opened and labor diligently to hear your pastor’s words. Your pastor is laboring to take seriously his calling to feed the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-5).
Remember, the celebrity pastor or conference preacher can be a means of bridging the gap and serving as a supplement to your spiritual diet during this pandemic—but you need to hear your pastor preach during this pandemic. You need every pixel on the screen – every squeaky word—poor quality and all. You need to hear from the man God has placed in your life to care for you and your family, to shepherd your soul, to watch over and guide you spiritually, and the man God has placed over you in the context of your local church. Your pastor is preaching to you and your church—not a church down the road. So, naturally he understands your needs and the needs of your church as a whole.
In Acts 20:28, when Paul was preparing to leave Ephesus to go away, he called a meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus and charged them with their pastoral responsibilities. He said, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” This is difficult to do through the lens of technology, but nevertheless, as your pastor seeks to shepherd your soul through the Word—even through the limitations of technology—do your best to engage and listen closely to his heart for you as a member of the church God has called him to lead.
Consider the fact that your pastor has been given the charge to protect you from wolves. In Titus 1:10-16, the role of the pastor is to silence those who violate the truth and trouble the church of Jesus. As your pastor seeks to care for you during this pandemic, part of his calling involves keeping you protected from the many wolves who are seeking to harm God’s sheep through the Internet. Always watch videos and read blogs with a careful eye of discernment. The Internet is not a safe place. So, listen closely to your pastor and his preaching even if he can’t compete with the level of production of another church down the road or a celebrity pastor with a large media production team. His words matter—and you need to hear from him during these days.
Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). We never outgrow the grace of God and our need for the gospel. So, as we live in times of discouragement and fear—don’t allow your hearts to be overcome by fear. Fear not. Let not your hearts be troubled, have faith in God through Christ and allow your faith to be strengthened by the ongoing hearing and receiving of truth that comes through the preaching of your pastor during these difficult days.
Is your pastor seeking to preach the Scriptures through a livestream opportunity? Is he leading Zoom prayer meetings with the church family? Put in the effort to make the necessary connections with your pastors and your church family during this challenging season of social distancing.
May it be that when you are finally able to reassemble with your local church you will have a greater affection for your brothers and sisters in Christ and a greater affection and respect for your pastor as a result of being forced to disassemble for a season in order to protect the wellbeing of the church during this pandemic.