Another young clergyperson died by suicide this weekend. I am praying for her, and for those who loved her, including her church. I also want to ask church members, please be gentle with your clergy right now. It’s not your job to take care of us, but just be aware. 1/?
This pandemic is hardest time for ministry that I can remember. People who have been ordained a lot longer than I have say the same thing. We are all living in a state of crisis. That includes you’re clergy. The initial adrenaline of responding to a pandemic is depleted now. 2/?
We’ve turned in to the next phase, which is just a long, tough slog. And none of us have done pandemic ministry before now. Most of us don’t even know anyone who has. There’s no roadmap. Support from a lot of denominations is abysmal. We are alone in this. 3/?
So before you send your pastor that email about this misspelling in the newsletter, or the small glitch in the worship video, ask if it’s really necessary. Before you get mad at them for not calling after your knee surgery, did you call and tell them you were having it? 4/?
Before you complain that you can’t go back to in-person worship yet, have you been in all the meetings they’ve been in where they’ve agonized about it? Before you say the church just isn’t meeting your needs right now, have you called your pastor and told them your needs? 5/?
Honest to God, I’ve never seen clergy so uniformly depressed, hopeless and feeling so unsupported. Multiple friends are making plans to leave parishes, despite not knowing where they will go. And I think I know the biggest reason why. 6/?
We’ve turned church away from a place dedicated to creating disciples to a place for consumers. We’ve led those who attend to believe that the church is a place for them to get their desires met, not a place for them to hear the Gospel, bear one another’s burdens, and serve. 7/?
So of course, in a time when no one is getting their needs met, it becomes easy to blame the clergy for not be present enough, entertaining enough, inspiring enough. We aren’t magically fixing things. 8/?
But do you know what your pastor is doing? They’re learning how to use video software so that you can worship on Sundays. They’re making hard financial choices so their staff gets paid. They’re responding to an increase in acute mental health concerns. 9/?
They’re trying to be community pandemic leaders. They’re trying to take care of their friends and families. They’re getting yelled at almost weekly because people are angry they can’t use the church building. They’re planning budgets for 2021 with no clue what’s coming. 10/?
They are thinking about Christmas Eve and trying to figure out how to transform the best night of the year into something that won’t infect everyone with COVID. And, they are doing all of this knowing someone won’t be happy with them about it. 11/?
So the next time you want to get mad at your pastor, or complain about them to your church friends over coffee, do this instead: stop and pray. Pray for your pastor. Pray for your church. Pray for a cure for COVID. Then, maybe just ask your pastor how they are doing. 12/?
Chances are they’ll just say “fine”. But I promise you, just being asked will make a difference. 13/13
Addendum: reading back through I see a bunch of typos/grammar mistakes. Apologies.
Second addendum: I am most familiar with what is happening to other mainline Protestant clergy, but I do not mean to exclude others. Rabbis, Imams, Catholic and Orthodox priests, etc., I see y’all too.

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