I’m here today to riff on some post pandemic pastoral priorities. This is in a way, a continuation or an expansion of the last podcast, which was too many weeks ago. Really boy, I’ve been slacking here in the summer sun. I did one on re-entry resolutions, just talking about how this was a unique time to make some changes in our routines, much like a new year, but in a bigger way.
As things open up and restrictions are lifted, just a great time to change routines and patterns of life and ministry, and I hope you’re doing that. I want to suggest three post pandemic pastoral priorities that might fit into your re-entry resolutions or not, but I’m going to throw these out for your consideration.
Number one, relationships with seekers. People want to talk to people. People want to get together and socialize and visit, and if you are there, if you are available, this is an excellent time to build relationships with people who don’t know the Lord.
There is a great story from our 12Church group where a lady was in another community two and a half hours away shopping and bumped into someone who she really didn’t know, but knew this was a neighbor from down the street and went and said hi to her and talked about wanting to get to know the neighbors better. This lady said, oh, I would love to do that and they exchanged information and plans to get together and maybe plan a block party.
This just all kind of happened so organically and naturally because people want to get together. And I just hope as leaders and as Christ followers in general, we do not miss this opportunity to establish new relationships that become patterns and routines in the lives of those who don’t yet know the Lord, which can be a great avenue for evangelism. So, relationship with seekers. To me, that’s a big post pandemic pastoral priority.
Number two, a social media reset. I think a lot of us spent more time on social media, on video, on things like Netflix, etc., than we would have or that we did before COVID. That’s fine, but this is a time to recalibrate that. This is a time to bring that social media consumption back into line. I, for the most part, maintain my habit, my pattern of not going on Facebook for purely relational purposes before 5:00 PM, as well as not watching the news before 5:00 PM. I allow myself at the noon hour, if I’m working from my home office, to watch something that is at least slightly instructional on YouTube, and then none of that til after 5:00 PM as well, and that’s helped.
When I look at my overall consumption, we have Amazon prime or will rent something if they don’t have what we’re looking for, but I think our consumption has been higher than it was pre-pandemic. We want to rein that back in, and I just wanna encourage you to do a bit of an audit of your social media consumption and maybe cut down on the screen time and amp up on the outside time. Again, maybe that time with people who don’t know the Lord or people that do know the Lord who just need more true face time without a screen between. So that’s number two is social media reset.
Number three, planned solitude. Now I know a lot of people, especially those who are more extroverted, which doesn’t include me, a lot of people who are more extroverted just want to get out there and spend time with people and make up for lost time with people. That’s fine. Others of us more on the introverted side, we’re quite enjoying the peace and quiet and the lack of social pressure.
I find myself, even in these last months, just chomping at the bit to go have a coffee with someone or have a breakfast meeting or lunch meeting, and I’ve been doing that more and more. But whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, I just want to encourage you to make sure that you don’t lose some of the benefits of solitude. That’s something that could get swept away so quickly in the rush of restrictions lifting. We can now socialize and meet with people and see people, just make sure that in your daily, your weekly and your quarterly lives, there is some time.
I just did a mini retreat a week or two ago where I took a day and drove down a highway to a different coffee shop that I normally frequent, did some reading, thinking, praying, and listing some stuff as I traveled. Just thinking through some things that I have a hard time thinking through when I’m in my natural routine.
I have a home office and work from my home office. So I find that to really break my routine in a thought pattern way, I need to get out of the house. And I do, in normal times, try to have four quarterly, two night retreats. I’m looking forward to getting some more of that happening as well. Just make sure you have solitude through your routine over this next while and don’t lose that. Hang on to that and maybe structure and plan it a bit.
So there’s three suggestions for some post pandemic pastoral priorities. I’d encourage you to identify one or two new priorities, things that you want to maintain or change. Lock them down and make it a rich, powerful habit going forward.