Covid-19 has delivered a one-two punch to the local church and her leader. Sadly, some churches will be knocked out, while others will struggle to bounce back and make it to another round. The revitalizing church was already fighting an uphill battle against a stronger opponent in the area of lack of resources, support, and volunteers to help turn from decline to community growth. Covid-19 has only darkened the forecast of many churches winning a round against complacency and decrease.
First, the church was hit with a roundhouse right, forced to close her doors to keep her people safe as Covid-19 spread throughout her community. The closure led to churches using limited resources to pay their pastor and other monthly bills as their income stream declined, and their savings was all but used up. The second punch came to the churches mid-section and took the breath away as the church reopened her campuses after months of being closed to only find the support of less than 50% of the attenders before Covid-19 returned. These two shots to the church in such a short time weakened the already wobbly church.
With pressure from the remaining members to keep fighting to stay open, the pastor and his family have shouldered more of the physical and spiritual burden. Revitalization has never been easy, but when you add Covid-19, the shutdown, decrease of income, lack of attenders, a recession, and community unrest might be the most challenging time in the last three decades of serving as a pastor in the local church. But there is hope by praying circles around the revitalizers home by retraining their mind and soul to adapt to changing times.
Prayer One: No weapon will prosper (Spiritual Warfare)
The evil one wants nothing more than to discourage and defeat the pastor before he walks outside of his home each day. If he can turn the pastor’s household upside down through discouragement and distraction, he can defeat him, thus stopping the kingdom’s advancement. Isaiah 54:17 reminds the revitalizer that no weapon against his home will be rewarded with dominating his household. As a watchman on the wall, the revitalizer must begin to pray a circle of protection around his family by using God’s Word to defeat the enemy even before he gets out of bed in the morning.
Prayer Two: I am called by God (Special Calling)
As the pressure mounts on the outside of the household, the tension is felt inside the pastor-leader’s house. 2 Timothy 4:2 reminds the revitalizer that he is to preach the word in and out of season and to do it with patience and careful instruction. Even before a negative comment is spoken, the pastor should begin to remind himself each day that he is called, he is equipped, and he can lead through this round in the life of the church. By praying a circle of God’s calling around his life, the pastor is listening to his coach (God) through spiritual encouragement as the pastor dodges the devil’s negative thoughts daily.
Prayer Three: God wants me to go deeper (Superficial Anointing)
Churchgoers can superficially fake God’s anointing, but the pastor is seen for his true self by his family. There is no hiding from his Sunday best to his stressed life in the home. 1 John 2:27 reminds the pastor that revelation comes from the anointing of God on his life. The anointing reveals the character of the follower of Christ over time. As the pastor ascertains the calling on his life, he must go deeper with God in the study of the Word, praying without ceasing, and spending time alone with God for hours, not minutes each week. Each day, the pastor should find time to spend time away in mediation and reflection and listen to what God says to him so that he is more prepared to serve his home and the church.
Prayer Four: Giving your family time (Sacrifice for Family)
For a revitalizer, the Church is essential, but it cannot be more important than his family. Too many pastors sacrifice their family on the altar of the church. 1 Timothy 3:4 challenges the revitalizer to put his family first. If he is called to manage anything, it is to manage his family by displaying scriptural obedience to God’s Word daily. The enemy wants nothing more than to attack at the heart of the revitalizer household by attacking the family unit. The family unit must be a priority over the mundane task of the Church. Each day, the pastor should pray over his spouse, his children, and each room of the house as he manages his household priority’s through daily prayers.
Prayer Five: Be like Christ in all seasons (Spirit Filled)
Pressure reveals the real character of a pastor. When a pastor is faced with a high-pressure situation, either caused by himself or others, it will display his heart’s spiritual shape. Proverbs 29:19 challenges the reader to reflect on what others may be seeing. It is as if a mirror is placed in front of the readers’ face and exposes the matter’s heart. Praying a circle around being Christ-like is an integral part of honoring God and the family he has given the revitalizer. The revitalizer should allow his spouse to be that mirror. Allowing his spouse to speak truth and life lovingly can help sustain the committed call on the revitalizer’s life. Living a Spirit-filled life is a life of accountability and reflection.
Prayer Six: All in for God (Sold-Out)
Living a life that honors God is not always easy. Serving the local church through difficult times is almost impossible; however, Psalm 55:22 reminds the revitalizer to give it all to God. As he prayers this circle around life situations, he is preparing to enter the ring of life strengthened in his faith, strong in his spirit, and eyes focused on Christ, leading to a sold-out life. Living a sold-out life is living a life that gives it all to God. Every burden, blessing, or boundary of life is given to God to either discard or enlarge. As the revitalizer begins to pray this final circle around his home, he gives God permission to take the lead and move his family and ministry forward.
The bell has rung to announce to all involved that another round is upon them. The revitalizer comes out of his spiritual corner, ready to win the contest and end the match. He has trained his mind by praying six circles around his home and has become sold-out to God’s will for his life by giving his family the absolute best of him. While the revitalizer cannot control the unseen, he can control the training of his mind, body, and spirit by trusting God to lead him to victory. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds the revitalizer that he has to pray continually, without ceasing to accomplish the Lord’s will for his life and the ministry God has called him too.
Dr. Desmond Barrett is lead pastor at Summit Church of the Nazarene in Ashland, Kentucky