How can Christians continue to minister to one another when large gatherings present a health risk?
FERGUSON: I never thought I would ever say, “Praise God for technology,” but my wife told me yesterday that our son, who is a minister of a smaller congregation, set up a YouTube channel for the congregation to have their midweek prayer service. It’s a small church without resources that other churches have. Amazingly, God has given us ways and means that no other generation has had for such a time as this. Other generations have known much, much worse than this and never had the technology.
When H.B. Charles was talking about waking up with the congregation on his heart, I thought of Psalms 42 and 43: “I used to lead the people in the house of God.” Somebody was there before H.B. was there. We could go on until the end of the day finding Scriptures that speak to our present situation in ways we didn’t really notice before.
Here is something that comes to mind: at the church where Derek Thomas is a pastor and where we had shared ministry together, one of the elders phoned everybody in the congregation on their birthday. If he had done that fifty years ago, he would have been bankrupt because you used to have to pay for every single phone call you made on your phone plan.
Every congregation does not need a tremendous amount of organization for everybody in the congregation to be phoned, especially those who are most prone to sickness or have the least mobility. People can phone them to say, not, “What can I do for you?” but rather, “You will find X, Y, and Z hanging on your front door because I left it there ten minutes ago.” This is an opportunity for us to have the imagination to do the simple things. When we actually do them, we’ll think, “Why were we not doing this before?”
PARSONS: In many churches, it has not been ministry as usual, but it has been service as usual. Even among our diaconate at the church, the deacons have continued to serve in the same ways that they always do, with a heightened alert to certain widows and those who are high-risk.
We’ve been making calls to individuals. I just left a message with one of our dear ladies in the church whose husband went in for an emergency appendectomy a couple of nights ago. It happened on her birthday. We ought to be making calls and doing what needs to be done, while still taking the necessary precautions and being very careful about our contact with others.
We are taking the necessary precautions and being careful, not simply for ourselves, but for others. This is not just for self-protection or for the sake of our families, but we’re striving to protect ourselves so that we do not transmit something to others. This is really about loving our neighbor as ourselves and putting that into practice.
This is a transcript of Sinclair Ferguson’s and Burk Parsons’s answers from the Pastoral Care in Times of Crisis panel discussion during our Made in the Image of God event and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.