The week began with the end of a weeklong curfew and ends with the start of the reopening of many of Arizona’s congregations. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the news, however, Arizona’s diagnosed cases of COVID-19 have spiked over the past few weeks – due in large part to increased testing to be sure. However, with the gradual reopening of Arizona since mid-May, there has been uptick in the spread.
By now, maybe you have seen the story of the Kentucky church which held in-person services for two weeks and has since had at least 18 members test positive for coronavirus. The church has since gone back to online worship services until at least June 21. As you and your leadership are in the process of reopening your church for services, are stories like these giving you “Decisional Fatigue?”
Earlier this week, I had a great conversation with two pastors in Maricopa. One of them who has served in the community for 25 years spoke to this decisional fatigue:
- To wear a mask or not
- To social distance with family and friends or not
- To reopen church services or not
- To speak out on political issues or not
- To engage in the current racial conversation on social media or not
Scant little doesn’t lead to significant debate right now, and it shows in a five-minute visit on social media. I recently read a tweet shared by a pastor friend of mine in which he shared the term decisional fatigue. The admonition in his tweet was contained in the words of Paul to Timothy:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, (2 Timothy 2:22–25 ESV)
As we as leaders navigate these current complexities, how important it is that we avoid the unnecessary quarreling! The fact is, as pastors you have a tremendous opportunity to use a prophetic voice to speak into the racial tensions besetting our nation. Local churches are speaking into this racial tension and the church right now in meaningful ways.
On June 3, Pastor Ashley Wooldridge led the congregation of Christ’s Church of the Valley through a Conversation on Race and the Church. Pastor Ashley listened. He listened to the stories of two of CCV’s African American leaders. And their stories are moving. During the conversation shared live on Facebook, the online comments were wide ranging but well moderated by the church social media team.
The beautiful prayer at the conclusion of the 52-minute video is well worth watching to the end.
Another incredible video came from Des Moines, Iowa just a few days later.
Protesters were staged outside the Des Moines Police Station, faced off in front of officers in riot gear, and tensions mounted. Two Latino church pastors took a bold step in an effort to release the pressure. You really should take the 3 ½ minutes and check this out:
Back to 2 Timothy, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”
What a high, high calling!
Through our work, in Christ, we’re blessed to be a part of His reconciling work of His Imago Dei to Himself – and also image bearer to image bearer. In times like these, what an opportunity it is to practice what we find here in 2 Timothy 2! Only we must be careful to avoid decisional fatigue!
So today, I’m taking my cue from these two brothers in Iowa. In addition, I’m listening carefully to my two brothers of color who faithfully serve at CCV. And I’m praying for you, pastor. These are unprecedented times!