Since mid to late March, this has certainly been an interesting season of ministry for all churches and their pastors. I currently serve as a pastor of a small church in Louisburg, NC, which is 20 minutes from the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. This season of COVID-19 is unique as I try to strategically shepherd and care for my church members.
I have a mostly older congregation, and many are having to be cautious right now during the pandemic. Like many, our services have now gone to an online format and even though we miss being together in person, it has been amazing to see the majority of our church come together to worship virtually.
While this time is difficult, we are seeing God take care of the needs of our congregation. I am consistently encouraged as we experience His goodness and faithfulness in many ways. While all churches are experiencing challenges during this time, here are some specific ways you can pray for smaller churches and their pastors.
5 Ways to Pray for the Smaller Churches
1. Pray for vulnerable members. Many small churches consist of older members who are particularly at risk during this time. When church buildings reopen, they may be hesitant to return to corporate worship. Pray that they will still feel united to the church body even if they cannot be physically present.
2. Pray for financial giving during this season. Small churches may be hurting more financially than others right now. Pray for faithfulness in giving and that church members will continue to be generous to meet the fiscal needs of the church.
3. Pray for faithfulness to missions. Often during times of crisis, it is easy for believers to turn inward. Pray that churches never lose sight of the mission field and that we will continue to be faithful both in prayer and supporting missionaries domestically and internationally.
4. Pray for community within the church to grow. During this time, it is particularly challenging to build community among the congregation. Pray that members will be faithful in continuing to grow together as one body and continue to invite others to join in corporate worship virtually and in person when we are able to re-open.
5. Pray for revival. This season is a great opportunity for the church to reflect on the spiritual state of the local body. Pray that leaders and members alike will have focused time spent in the Word and in prayer.
5 Ways to Pray for the Smaller Church Pastors
1. Pray for wisdom and strength. Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill them with wisdom and strength on how to best minister to church members during the COVID-19 crisis. Also, pray for wisdom as they and other church leaders make decisions on re-opening for corporate worship.
2. Pray for the mental health of pastors. Ministry can at times be a lonely place, especially now when social distancing is being strongly encouraged. Along with praying for pastors, reach out and give them a phone call to encourage them.
3. Pray for their ability to encourage. Many members are discouraged and are wondering when life and church will return to “normal.” Pray for pastors to have the ability to remain positive and to encourage their members in their faith.
4. Pray for their time of personal worship and sermon preparation. With the added stress of this season, it is easy to become distracted. The home is now everyone’s office which can cause pastors to be tempted not to spend adequate time in personal worship and sermon preparation. Pray for strength in this area.
5. Pray for their families. For pastors who are married and have children during this season it can be difficult to find a balance between ministry and home life. Pray that they will be attentive not only to the needs of their church, but also to the needs of their family.