Your church has an inner life.
People can look terrific on the outside, calm, cool and collected, but inwardly can be wasting away with grief, hurt and disappointment. Churches can too.
Churches need peacemakers.
The pandemic has swept us all up in what some are calling a tsunami of grief. We’ve lost loved ones. We’ve lost sacred traditions. We’ve lost weekly rhythms of comfort and security. We’re hurting.
And hurting people hurt people. Even when everything is going well, churches are breeding grounds for conflict. Because followers of Jesus are passionate about their Savior, their faith and their churches, any change can stir up anxiety. Anxiety leads to debate (not always conducted harmoniously), which often leads to hurt feelings.
The inner lives of churches are a delicate thing. A congregational mood that is light and breezy can suddenly shift. Peace, patience, and grace vanish in the tsunami’s wake.
I’m concerned that last year’s sudden shutdown of Sunday services, the trauma of crisis management for over a year, and now the urgency to get back to “normal” is straining the peace of our churches.
Churches need peacemakers. And as the pastor, you’re the peacemaker in chief.
By virtue of your call, God has placed you in a unique position. You’re the magnet for the waves of grief and anxiety, a lightning rod for the hurt feelings over disagreement in the church.
You’re the most vulnerable, but you’re also in the most advantageous position to be a peacemaker.
I’m confident that you already know how to bring the healing of the gospel to the inner life of your faith family in times like this, but allow me to touch on a few of the key essentials.
First, examine your own inner life. Caregivers often don’t take time to seek care for their own hurts. Have you thoroughly processed your own grief over the losses you’ve suffered? Spend time with the Lord in your own lament. Seek out a trusted friend or a counselor. Get a good handle on how you’re doing. Then turn to the cross of Jesus for healing and restoration. Be open and receptive to the gospel of grace for recovery from all you’ve been through.
Next, as a way to help the church process its hurt, share with trusted leadership what you’ve learned about your own personal inner life journey of the last year. Let them know that you’ve experienced a rough time. Let them know that you’re hurting too and that it’s okay.
Jesus the Great Physician came not for the well, but for the hurting.
Then it might be a good idea to create some opportunities for listening intentionally to the hurts and sorrows of the church. How has the year of dramatic change been hard on them? What’s made them angry? Sad? Afraid? Glad? Where are they finding hope for days ahead?
And then, as always, take it all to the cross. Cast burdens. Call out together, “Lord, have mercy.” Seek his peace.
The journey’s not over. I’ll be praying for your church’s healing so that you can be a place of healing for everyone in your community.
Thanks for reading.