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Pastors fought hard during the pandemic, and they need your prayers

No More Singing in COVID California!

Pastors have faced unprecedented difficulties in the past year and a half.

That’s because the pandemic left its mark on the church, and it’s left its mark on pastors. Our church communities were kept apart by fear and illness, and some churches have closed their doors entirely as a result of dwindling attendance. What’s more, the rate of mental illness has surged across the country, and pastors are no exception

But that’s not all. While facing unprecedented challenges, our country’s pastors also had to confront severe discrimination against themselves and their churches. Our government leveraged the pandemic as a pretense to disproportionately restrict church gatherings and place bans on standard corporate worship activities like singing

Pastors need your prayer and intercession to lead during peaceful times; they especially need your support during difficult times. And they absolutely require your help when facing discrimination. Being a pastor is demanding, important work. It’s difficult — and it’s even more difficult when it’s threatened and politicized. 

That’s why I want to call on Christians to remember to lift up in prayer the pastors who have fought so hard to help them through the pandemic. 

As Christians, we have to remember the important role that pastors have in the church. Pastors are crucial to the ongoing work of evangelization and salvation; they are selected by God to lead the faithful as they seek to follow Him. As the Bible tells us in Ephesians, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

Pastors are our leaders in the faith. And for decades, they have also been some of America’s most important cultural leaders as well. They guide our churches and enrich our communities. They help us — and we should remember to help them.

1 Timothy 2 explicitly tells us to do so. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 

But since the pandemic first hit, leading a “peaceful and quiet life” has become almost impossible for our pastors. And the biggest reason why is that faith leadership, and the role of pastors in our communities, became intensely political in 2020. 

In some cases, this politicization even rose to the level of the Supreme Court. Churches suffered a laundry list of baseless interference in worship and religious practice — interference that was harsher for houses of worship than it was for secular institutions

Across the country, state and local officials attacked the church. 22 states and Washington, D.C., limited religious gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Rhode Island limited these gatherings to just five people. Pastors were repeatedlyarrested because they refused to close their churches down in compliance with arbitrary government mandates. 

Pastors shouldn’t have been forced to contend with police raids, shutdowns or arrest. They should be allowed to shepherd their flock to the best of their ability. But for the past 18 months, they have been subject to relentless, hostile regulation. 

Faith matters, and it especially matters in a country like America that was founded on Christian values and designed to be a bastion of religious liberty. The church must be free. Pastors should be empowered to lead well, not battled with. And when pastors must contend with difficulties and hardships, it’s up to us in the church to defend and support them. 

They do the same for us. Pastors were forced to stand up on behalf of their congregants’ right to free exercise of their faith, making defense of religious liberty suddenly a political — rather than religious — act. 

We need pastors now more than ever. They are the answer to so many of the challenges we face today.  

Our nation is suffering, confused and still reeling from more than a year of political, social and economic upheaval. Pastors can help us heal, guide us through turbulent times and be witnesses to Christ in difficulty. 

It’s not easy to conduct a church community through the kinds of dangers and hardships we have faced in the past year. 

As we approach the end of 2021, remember your pastors in your prayers. Remember the sacrifices they made and struggles they faced to help lead the faithful through a period of unprecedented crisis and strife.

Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition

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