People Need a Narrative: Clergy and COVID-19

People Need a Narrative: Clergy and COVID-19

I’ve been gratified for, and impressed with, at the presence of our pastors on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have jumped in reluctantly onto social media. The learning curve is evident, sometimes amusing.

As is often the case with technology, it can be the great leveler. Whether in a mega church or a smaller (normal) church of 100 or fewer members, pastors are connecting and communicating with their members, and a wider audience, offering words of encouragement, comfort, and hope.

Regardless of how slick or professional the production values, or how home grown (I think I’ve seem the span of it!) the act of reaching out, staying connected, and delivering the good news should not be underestimated. Should pastors feel somewhat helpless in the face of the challenges the pandemic poses, here’s a word from E. O. Wilson that reminds us of the importance of the unique function clergy provide, especially in times like these. Wilson wrote:

“People need a sacred narrative. They must have a sense of a larger purpose, in one form or another, however intellectualized. They will refuse to yield to the despair of animal mortality. They will continue to plead, in company with the Psalmist, ‘Now Lord, what is my comfort?’ They will find a way to keep the ancestral spirits alive.”

Thank you, pastors, for offering comfort and hope, and staying connected!

Source: E. O. Wilson, The Atlantic Monthly, April 1998, p. 70.

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.

His books on education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).

Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans and to its teaching and learning blogs.

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