Seasons of crisis and turmoil lead to new waves of virtue signaling on social media. If you follow “Christian Social Media” you see the kind of virtue signaling that is full of complaints about what pastors and churches “haven’t done” and what pastors and churches are “supposed to do”.
Nearly every one of these nuggets of sophistry comes from someone who is not a pastor, and many who don’t attend church. There are plenty of academics are among them and many who quit pastoring to become “consultants” or speakers. Most people don’t have what it takes to be a pastor for very long. They tell us to “do something”, but very few of them could give you genuinely constructive advice.
What do pastors and churches say on social media during times like this? By in large they pray, they ask for prayer for themselves and their people, their neighborhoods and nation and they facilitate the meeting of needs. They talk about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
I’ll take the pastors and their churches any day.
Faithful pastors work to instill a vision of the kingdom of God into their congregations week after week. The topics the passages change, but the aim is (should be) to make people more like Christ. Being a pastor is a long game. This means you are going to see all kinds of advances and successes as well as all kinds of retreats and scares over time. And while individuals on social media or in the published media wax eloquent on why the failings of churches and pastors are the cause of the problem, pastors are in the trenches trying to figure out what to do today and what to prepare for on Sunday.
Being a pastor is a long game.Tweet
There is a unique power in teaching and living out the kingdom of God. While we cannot neglect the need for good and better laws, and for healthier communities guided by better and better policies, our salvation does not lie in them. Our Leader once called the kingdom of God a seed. In fact, he called it the smallest of all the seeds. And when given a chance to grow, it grows into the largest of all the garden plants. It becomes a tree (Matthew 13:31-32).
The public pressure in a time of crisis is to demand change now, to demand better politicians and laws now, to demand better policing now. And, again, without neglecting that, the pastor knows the power of the seed of the kingdom of God taking its sovereign and mysterious time to grow into a tree and bear its divine fruit. We can have better laws, but if our streets and courts are filled with sinful creatures, the law strains to maintain order. We can have better policing practices, but if the uniforms are filled with reprobates, we have not advanced an inch.
Our communities need pastors with the foresight and endurance to play the long game of the unshakeable kingdom of God.
Pastor, you will be with your congregation after all the smoke clears. Many of those who are criticizing you from the back pew today will move on to the next opportunity to virtue signal as soon as it becomes convenient. You and your church are part of the foundation of the lives of the members of your congregation and an integral part of the health of your community. You will endure in faithfulness. They will slink on.