What I’m hearing from COVID-weary Pastors these days:
- They and the rest of their staffs are exhausted.
- The average parishioner doesn’t want to do anything.
They don’t want to attend Bible study. They don’t want to return to live in-person worship. They don’t want to plan summer programs. They don’t want to serve on boards or committees. They might never “be back” when life returns to “normal.”
I’m reminded of certain pirates who are also vegetables who entertained my children long ago:
We are the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.
We just stay home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything, we’ll just tell you
We don’t do anything!
Full video here.
Pirates, by definition, selfishly take the labor and handiwork of others without respect. I confess before you and God that during COVID I have often taken things without respecting the work and creativity that was generated by the hands and imagination of others. I’ve sat in my pajamas sipping coffee on Sunday mornings enjoying the music and liturgy and sermons of hardworking church professionals without even singing along. I’ve watched YouTube worship gatherings without making a financial contribution. I’ve rarely been asked to contribute a prayer or a litany. I have become a freebooter.
Because of virtual worship, congregations have not had to recruit and train greeters, ushers, nursery volunteers, or fellowship hour hosts. No one has come early to set up the coffee on Sunday mornings and unlock the doors. There hasn’t been a call for new choir members or Sunday School teachers. We who’ve relished sleeping in on Sundays haven’t had to do anything we haven’t wanted to do.
Maybe what we need to do is not about supporting the institution of traditional Sunday morning worship. Maybe what we need to do involves serving outside the walls of the church building: tutoring, weeding, cooking, cleaning, painting, and listening. Or if your church building has the capacity to host people who are hungry, homeless, addicted and lonely, get to work right there in the place where you also gather for in-person worship.
God calls us to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. Maybe we don’t really need ushers and coffee hour hosts, but we do need people who want to give of themselves to bring healing and wholeness to a broken world.
Pastors are exhausted from pulling worship together on a dime in the middle of a pandemic. They were doing it to nourish us during a dry time in hopes that we might be inspired to serve others in Jesus’ name. But we’ve become accustomed to sitting in our pjs like the pirates who don’t do anything.
Don’t be a pirate. It’s time to be honest swashbucklers (i.e. daring adventurers) in the name of Jesus.