The scars I bear from battle didn’t come from explosives or being shot. They come from the pain of loss.
My scars come from the aching loss my soldiers endured when their buddies were killed. Seeing them—feeling them—with the weight of that loss was—is—a burden for me.
Some wanted a prayer; some did not. Some wanted a word of comfort; some wanted a hand on the shoulder, a caring presence.
I still grieve the losses I suffered, losses that came when my friends died in combat. My grief is compounded by knowing the grief of those I care about. This is my burden as their chaplain.
The current worldwide coronavirus crisis should cause grave concern for everyone. It gives us pause to reflect on our mortality and how gingerly our lives teeter on the precipice between life and death at every moment.
The church should especially consider its place in the world and how it ministers to those in need–in need of the gospel and in need of acts of mercy. Sadly, I am afraid many congregations are not prepared for this moment, either theologically or otherwise. How many congregations were engaged with their communities and members, and prepared to minister despite the separation that “social distancing” has brought us?
I don’t have magic answers, but I do have some suggestions about how our churches need to be effectively involved in the lives of those around us. This post begins a series on small church ministry. For my purposes, I am defining small churches as those having 100 members or less, and I am assuming they are found mostly in small towns and rural areas. This series should be helpful to churches of various traditions and church leaders, whether pastors, elders, deacons, trustees, or those given some other title.
In this series, I will reflect on the biblical model of ministry of the church as well as provide practical applications and suggestions. I hope this will be helpful to someone; perhaps the pastor of a small church will find this useful, as I would have done in similar circumstances.