COVID-19 is Stretching Thin the Spiritual Resources of Our Church Leaders

The Best Gift We Can Give Them is to Care our Our Souls

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The Best Gift We Can Give Them is to Care our Our Souls

COVID-19 Raises New Challenges for Church Leaders

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and I'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest..." (Matthew 11:28)

Athletes have off-seasons for their bodies to recover from the wear and tear of a long season. Teachers have summer to prepare themselves for another school year of sacred space with students. Businesses have slow seasons that allow employees to catch their breath. But there is no "off season" or "slow time of the year" for church leaders. Church leadership, especially for those on staff, is a 24/7 job that has no true "off day" or "down season."

COVID-19 is leaving church leaders more vulnerable to burnout than before the pandemic struck the world. Ask yourself, "What has changed for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually since the pandemic hit?

  • Which emotions have been higher during this time? Who have you shared those emotions with?
  • How are these sudden changes impacting your daily habits? How well do you adapt when sudden changes hit?
  • Who do you know who's been personally impacted by this disease?
  • How isolated have you been due to the pandemic? How has that impacted you emotionally and spiritually?

Pastors are bearing those COVID-19 burdens for themselves AND the people in their churches. In just the past month, we are seeing an uptick in worry about job loss, stress over job changes, a loss of identity, and a general sense of weariness among the churches where we work. Sound familiar? Now imagine that you're sitting in not only your own emotions but the emotions of dozens or even hundreds of other children and adults for whom you feel spiritually responsible. Death, illness, family drama, and faith crises have not decreased, either.

Our spiritual needs won't suddenly go back to what they were once the pandemic ends, but the soul care needs of pastors will intensify. Research is telling us that our caregivers will be releasing a level of their own trauma AFTER the pandemic ends that others of us will not. They've been firsthand witnesses to the anxiety, pain, and suffering this pandemic is causing within our communities. This certainly applies to anyone in the medical field and to first responders. It will apply to teachers. It will apply to those who chose to bring their elderly or immune-compromised family members into their home. We can expect grief over lost loves ones, regret over help that couldn't be given, chronic loneliness, and dramatic changes in our culture to spike once quarantines are lifted. When we grieve these events, to whom will we go? Our pastors.

In short, COVID-19 is transforming the present and the future of church leaders. Right now, we must boost available resources for soul care.

We have no big plans, no big program, and no fancy words for this year's spring campaign. We simply must expand our capacity to not only offer care when asked, but pursue care where we know it will be needed. To do so, we will need additional hours from our spiritual directors working on contract. We will need resources to travel (once it is advisable) to locations to provide care. We will need resources to market our services to areas where we may not be yet known, but where care is needed nonetheless.

A gift to our general fund will allow us to contract with part-time spiritual caregivers who will:

  • Offer soul care on social media and in recurring regularly scheduled group soul care sessions. This is something we need both now and post-COVID.
  • Continue providing soul care to the women who are in our Covenant Groups, allowing their groups to continue during the summer months. The women who've been in our groups are asking if they can continue because of the added stress of COVID.

When shelter-in-place ends, we need:

  • A regularly recurring virtual option for group soul caregiving every week for anyone who needs it, regardless of their role at their church - paid or volunteer. Any church leader who reaches out needs to be able to pay what they can, knowing the rest is subsidized.
  • A packet of "self-administered" soul care tools that can guide a moment of rest whenever it's needed.
  • A publishable Enneagram resource that can be provided to all those we care for.

Will you help us reach these church leaders to provide them the soul care they desperately need? Recurring monthly gifts in the amounts listed above help us build our capacity to provide care as often as we're asked, and wherever we go looking for needed soul care. Help us say "yes" to every church leader we can find who needs soul care in this brand new world.