By Bruce Chesser
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention
Most of us are trying to determine the best course of action in reengaging in on campus worship. Notice I did not say “reopening.” We haven’t been closed. Almost all of us have continued to lead our people in Sunday worship, Wednesday night Bible studies, and we have engaged many of our small groups in some new thing called Zoom. Zoom, zoom, zoom. We’ve zoomed all over the planet in the last few months.
Here are a few things to remember.
First, no one knows exactly how to handle this. Unless you were alive 100 years ago, none of us have ever been through a pandemic. Your pastor has not been through it, your director of missions has not been through it, your state executive director has not been through it, and you have not been through it. No one but the Lord knows what the next few weeks and months are going to hold.
Second, we must have a plan. Leaders lead. We must develop a plan to reengage. For most, it will be done in phases. The reality is that the date might change. But whatever the date happens to be, there has to be a plan.
Third, we must show grace. I receive an e-mail almost every day with someone sharing with me their opinion and thoughts on what we need to do. And they are all over the spectrum. Everyone has an opinion and they certainly have a right to it. But not everyone will agree. And, again, no one knows for sure. So let’s show grace to each other and be kind even when we do not see things exactly the same way.
Fourth, pray for your leaders. It is not easy to make decisions that will affect hundreds of people and in some cases thousands of people.
Pastors, and other church leaders, do not take these responsibilities lightly. While we want to know what people are thinking and we want to know what guidelines the authorities are suggesting, ultimately our desire is to hear a word from the Lord. And what is best for one church might not be exactly the same for another church. Communities are different. Churches are different. And, thus, the approach to reengaging might be different, too.
I’ll tell you the truth. I am excited about the future. God has used this as a wakeup call. Tens of thousands of people have been saved over the past few months because they heard the gospel through technology that would have never gone to a church to hear the gospel during that same period of time. Churches have been awakened to the possibilities of using technology to take the gospel to the nations.
Whatever the future holds, let us all determine that we will not be content to go back to the way things were. Let’s do better in Jesus’ name! Let’s be better in Jesus’ name! B&R — Chesser is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.