Notes from the Normal Pastor Conference, a conversation between Zack Eswine, Rechab Gray, Ronnie Martin, John Onwuchekwa, Nathan Rose, and Jared Wilson.
1. Such a helpful conversation between 6 brothers about the in’s and out’s of ministry in this weird situation we are in. A joy to be able to watch it on a Friday afternoon with no sermon to prepare for Sunday.
2. God has seemed willing to exchange our creature comforts for the comfort of our Creator. When the good things become God things, God will remind us who is good over what is good.
3. Though Scripture tells us that we will go through fiery trials, we thought we were immune to God’s testing and discipline. We had shut our minds off to the possibility that God would do what Scripture says He will do.
4. We are surprised and caught off guard by the COVID crisis. We talk about it being unprecedented, but it was not for God. It is clear that nothing catches God off guard. The best thing we can do is turn to the person who saw it already; to the Lord who sees the beginning to the end; to the One it is not uncertain for.
5. The Bible doesn’t give us, a here’s what to do in a pandemic in 2020, but it is clear that God’s character is enough. Things change throughout history, but our God is immutable. We can expect His character to come through. We know who He is and what He is like. He is a good God and a faithful God.
6. This time has exposed for pastors what their devotion was to.
7. There is a decentralisation of authority. Our members are saturated 24/7 with voices. It used to be that you had to have some credibility to speak, now anybody can speak. This is freeing and empowering but it means that anybody can speak. How do we know who is speaking the truth?
8. There is no real substitute for physical presence. Meeting with brothers and sisters is a gift (Lord willing we won’t take for granted) but it is also a necessity.
9. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
10. We have underestimated how much physical presence is needed to shepherd your members through tough situations. Body language and warmth doesn’t come across when you have to make a tough call on ZOOM.
11. Not all division is bad division.
12. Success isn’t me getting everyone to buy in, it is making sure that everyone who comes along with us is bought in.
13. Listening should always be our introduction into conflict. There is so much about people we don’t know. Conflict gives us an opportunity to listen and learn.
14. At the moment people are making decision to exercise control over something. Reasonableness is often going out the door.
15. Walk this out and talk this out. Movement often helps the conversation.
16. Disagreement minus discussion will lead to demonisation.
17. Pastors have not trained their people to have difficult conversations by not preaching difficult sermons from the pulpit.
18. When things are going well – rejoice. When things are going badly – reflect.
19. We felt the pressure to increase the amount of content we were producing. Why did we think the best response to not being able to meet was more content? Why did we think they needed more screen time? Because it became unsustainable when this crisis turned out not to be a sprint but a marathon.
20. Our present circumstances require shepherds who return to the the same sheep in the same field every day.
21. Deciding what to do with something before you know what that something is, is a recipe for disaster.
22. The online world is a real world and it is discipling our people.
23. The mute button on social media is your friend.
24. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to be quick to repent.
25. Pastors should spend a lot of time in 1 Peter right now.
26. See pain and suffering as a grace to grow you. The hope is that because of what we’ve gone through, we will be stronger, more godly, devoted pastors who love Jesus more.
27. Fearlessness is not avoiding scary situations, it is going into them reminding myself that Jesus is with me and embracing Him and clinging to His promises.