By Stewart Holloway
PINEVILLE, La. – When asked to engage in a new ministry, a pastor declined to even think about it saying, “We’re just waiting on this whole virus thing.” Essentially, this pastor and his church are doing nothing while a world crisis rages. That means they have lost five months of gospel impact while ministry is on pause. They are just sitting around waiting.
I’m grateful that our church has decided not to do that. I do not see how any church CAN do that! The work of Christ must continue even in the midst of some of the oddest circumstances we have ever experienced. Like most churches, only about half of our people are back in person. At times that is discouraging (ok, it is always discouraging!), but then we hear of ministry happening outside the walls of the church – some of that in person but even more by phone, mail, and internet resources. Those reports encourage us that ministry is happening in multiple ways and places and lives are being touched.
I am also encouraged by the giving of our people. In the middle of a pandemic and with half of our people still at home, we are closer to meeting budget at mid-year than I can remember. In addition, we have reduced our debt by almost $200,000. We have received gifts from people out of state and some local people whom I have never met! That tells me people are pleased with what is happening and want to see ministry continue and expand!
We are not just sitting and waiting. We are moving forward. Most of our plans are one month at a time, and we’ve cancelled or rescheduled plenty of things even recently, but we are determined to keep moving forward and simply pivot as needed. Just this week, we had conversations about a new local ministry, a national church revitalization partnership, and an international ministry partnership. I expect all of these will be in play by the end of 2020 or early 2021. We are not just sitting around.
Ministry opportunities abound all around us, and many more are on the horizon. Don’t just sit around and wait for the virus to end. If Paul found ways to minister in and from prison and could say that what had happened to him had actually served to advance the gospel (Phil. 1:12-14), surely we can find ways to impact the world for Christ in our present circumstances and adjust as circumstances continue to change.
Please don’t just sit around waiting. Advance the gospel however you can wherever you are.
Stewart Holloway is pastor of First Baptist Church in Pineville. This editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.