Pastoring in Pandemic

In 2008 Colin Marshall and Tony Payne published a book titled, “The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-shift that Changes Everything.”  Near the end of the book the authors provide a thought experiment:

The first worrying signs of a swine-flu pandemic are making headlines around the world.  Imagine that the pandemic swept through your part of the world. And that all public assemblies of more than three people were banned by the government for reasons of public health and safety.  And let’s say that due to some catastrophic combination of local circumstances, this ban had to remain in place for 18 months. 

Whoa.  That’s why I read books.

Marshall and Payne ask the question: If you were the pastor, what would you do?   

I know a large number of congregation members will read this post, but I want to specifically address the pastors who will stumble upon these thoughts.

Here’s a list, free from explanation, of things I want to do in effort to pastor during a pandemic.  This list is comprised of my successes, failures, lessons learned, and plans for the future.  I pray it helps.

Pastoring in Pandemic

  1. Preach the Word
  2. Preach the Word to yourself
  3. Pray
  4. Pray some more
  5. Pray even more
  6. Don’t short change your family
  7. Give your family extra
  8. Equip people: staff, leaders, members
  9. Write plans in pencil
  10. Write plans in pencil … and keep an eraser handy
  11. See the church as bigger than YOUR church
  12. Root for other churches
  13. Call friends
  14. Share your burdens
  15. Remember: God called you to pastor a local church … not the Internet
  16. Remember: You pastor people … not numbers and views
  17. Rest
  18. Call church members – check on them, pray for them.
  19. Write things down.  Keep records.  You’ll want to share these stories.
  20. Don’t merely solve problems.  Make things better.
  21. Love your people
  22. Love your community
  23. Be a fountain not a drain
  24. Smile
  25. Confess your limited wisdom and strength

Pastors, my list in not exhaustive.  What would you add?



9 thoughts on “Pastoring in Pandemic

  1. Pastor Jeff, I am blessed to one of your flock. Thank you for everything you do. Gratefully yours, Mary


  2. 26. When people die, grieve with those who mourn, but share the comfort that even with a broken heart, God’s peace can reign in the pieces.


  3. Keep following as your heart leads you to do. I have missed going to church, but have fun deeper in the as ever before now. I enjoy keeping in touch by the live feeds- and being able to listen to them as I work, walk, and as I turn in for the day. I feel you have handled all this confusion very well. I have to admit I have really enjoyed the times when you have just sat down and talked to us in Bible study at Easter and Mother’s day evenings. Thank you for all you do and God bless.


  4. Great list. One thing I have most admired about you is that you always pray before you begin your sermon, and I know you are praying for the “Holy people of Sulphur Springs”. Praying for you too!


  5. Great thoughts! We are blessed to have a pastor who is so aware of this situation and our needed commitment.


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