Barna Group Webcast Discusses How Pastors and Churches Can Care for People’s Souls in a Post-Pandemic World

Church leaders weigh in on ministering to souls in a new reality as part of a Barna group webcast on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. | Photo: Screengrab/Barna.com

The Church is facing a new reality in light of the pandemic and it’s time for pastors and leaders to shift their thinking about caring for people’s souls, some Christian leaders say.

In a Barna group webcast Wednesday called “State of the Church: Caring for Souls in a New Reality,” North Park University professor Soong-Chan Rah, pastor John Mark Comer from Portland, Oregon, and leadership coach and author Jo Saxton offered that the global public health crisis, though devastating, can be a gift to the Church.

“I think anytime we have a crisis, anytime there’s a kind of disruption in the status quo, it’s a great way to examine the changes that have occurred that have been there under the surface all this time, but we just haven’t noticed it because we are so used to the status quo,” Rah said in the four-way interview hosted by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Nicole Martin.

“I think part of the benefit of a crisis is that it reveals the flaws and the weaknesses that we’ve tolerated over the years. We’ve allowed these flaws and weaknesses to scar over and we’ve ignored some of the pain that’s underneath the surface, and we’ve gone along on our merry way. But once a crisis like COVID-19 hits, we’re actually forced to confront some of these challenges that we’ve allowed to fester for many, many years.”

Saxton added that what has given her hope is that the Church has always needed to be present for people in their online lives and the coronavirus has forced the Church to adapt, be creative, and reach people where they are more intentionally.

Comer said he believes many people are rethinking their life, lifestyle, and life values. His experience, he said, has been with many “de-churched” people who are joining online gatherings and reconsidering God, faith, and their mortality.

“You can’t hide, like most Western people do, from the fact that we are mortal creatures and we will die and it may happen way sooner than any of us planned,” he said.

Asked to elaborate on spiritual formation and how discipleship is occurring in a hyper-digitalized context, Saxton said it’s crucial to remember what discipleship actually is — and that it’s not just having all the right information.

“Discipleship isn’t just purely about teaching, [though] it’s an integral part of it. But when we look at how Jesus made disciples, He gathered a few, gave them access to His life, they could see how He was doing this life and then He gave them the opportunity to put it into practice,” she added.

Thus, the Church has an opportunity in this moment to do likewise, she said.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter