Ep. 244 When a Church Is More Theological Than Pastoral
Show’s Main Idea – My Mastermind student asked me about a 2,000 member church that does not broadcast their church meetings during the COVID-19 season. She asked for my perspective. What do you think? Should a church not preach sermons to its members if they can’t gather in person? What does the Bible say? Is their position theological, preferential, and wise?
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The unnamed church has approximately 2,000 members. They refuse to use technology as a replacement for their usual Sunday meetings. Thus, they are not doing anything as far as preaching to their folks. Is their perspective correct? What does the Bible say about their shepherding approach?
The Bible speaks explicitly and directly to very few things in our lives. Most of our questions and problems fall under the heading of “wisdom issues,” which gives each believer “purposeful freedom” to make decisions.
Part of this issue is whether you want to be theological or pastoral when those two things can have different effects on your people. You have to ask whether or not you want to die on every “supposed” theological hill.
- E.g., we used to have a Community Cash grocery store in our town that did not sell alcohol or tobacco. We had a theological viewpoint that we should abstain from those two things, and Community Cash gave us a way to do that. Then the grocery chain closed down, and we had to change our “theological viewpoint” or starve.
- E.g., a grieving wife asks the pastor whether or not her supposed unregenerate husband went to heaven. Should he give the grief-stricken woman a theological treatise on heaven, hell, her husband’s life choices, and what he thinks about his eternal destination? Or should he make this a pastoral moment where he speaks about God’s goodness and the assurance that in heaven we will have fuller contentment than she has currently?
- E.g., you have shut-ins in your church. Do you not figure out a means for them to hear preaching? (FYI: we all have been “shut-ins” the past few months.) And what about the convalescing?
- E.g., your five-year-old asks you about how a baby gets here. Should you break out with a comprehensive study of anatomy, biology, and sex? Or should you shepherd the child without freaking him out?
According to many accounts, there have been surprising COVID side effects, and I’m not speaking of those who have the virus.
- Suicide rates are up
- Anger problems are
- Fear and anxiety are up
- Medication usage is up
- Marital issues are on the increase
- Familial dysfunction is on the rise
- General divisiveness and discord are up
- Church (cyber) attendance has increased
- Trust in government is farther down
This season is the perfect time for the church to step up and shepherd the flock of God. Fallenness and its effects are always here, but there are times when those things heighten, which is the call for God’s children to exercise the means of grace available to serve the body and provide hope for the lost.
- One counseling pastor did not like the idea of counseling online. Then he did it. He returned to his church, saying that he may never come back to the building to counsel. Of course, he will, but his point was that this is a possible means of grace for some folks.
- An assistant pastor did not know how to use Zoom technology, so he learned. It was more vital to care for his flock than quibble over the means.
- A church member worked alongside his pastor, learning how to record and publish online.
- We started thinking through the redemptive use of technology in 2008, at the beginning of this ministry. The Lord has done fantastic things through this non-traditional way of doing ministry.
When It’s Over
When the COVID restrictions end, millions of Christians will go back to their churches. We will return to the conventional biblical and historical ways of doing church. Plus, we will have learned a few other means to care for God’s people and reaching the lost.
BTW: The underground church has found technology as a means to help them flourish. It’s first-world countries that struggle with this, not those who have seen technology as a lifeline for which they are praising God.