As a church staff leader, are you in information and support options overload? These opportunities are coming to us quickly and with ever-changing details. New laws, technology, challenges, upset schedules, and unknown answers. I know I’m in overload, perhaps you are also. As church leaders, most of you are finding that remote church, working from home, and the goal of good pastoral ministry in a time of physical distancing requires more from your resources and energy than usual. So, what are you to do – work harder and burnout? We all understand that is not the solution, but it is harder than ever to accept limits and make your own needs important enough to act. Across the country, we are at different levels of action and restriction. Some of you are still going to the office even if you are among a lot smaller group. Some of you are now home school teachers and childcare workers in addition to the added stress from job responsibilities. Some can still move around with a bit of normalcy, while others have to stay at home except to get food. 

I confess I am not a model of what you should do, but I’m watching what is happening, and want to suggest we take a moment breathe. My Apple Watch is good at reminding me to breathe and shows me my level of movement. If you are like me, I ignore it more than I listen to its invitation to BREATHE and MOVE. 

For the last two weeks, I have hosted five open zoom meetings with our association members, The Church Network. These meetings have varied in size, location, and church size. It has been a time to talk to each other about what is happening on the ground. The questions are about process, payroll, streaming, childcare, how to keep ministry moving, contributions, use of buildings for ministry, etc., etc. Sometimes they are sharing their best guess—sometimes finding real solutions—sometimes just identifying good questions. 
Not to compare these women and men to the most critical front line doctors, nursery, food service workers, but the administrative part of church has become even more complicated and is pushing most everyone to the limit.  In these sessions, I’ve let the conversation go for about 45 minutes, and then I suggest a shift. “You’ve been working on a great list of things that must-have solutions, my question to the group, how are YOU doing?”

So, what are we to do?  A few possibilities. 

  • Breathe – I mean, really breathe. Check your self and allow time to decompress, pray, meditate, be still.
  • Move – if you spend ten to twelve hours with nothing but email and zoom meetings will wear on you.
  • Remember, when you are doing everything to check on your church members to check on your colleagues. If you are one of those that have a lot of new free time, tempted to tell us about how bored you are on social media, use that time to reach out to your teammates and their families. Maybe a staff friend in another church or city. 
  • Ask the question, “What can I slow down?” Is this a must for now? Do we have to do everything we use to do – plus. 
  • Eat well, sleep enough, move, and remember to name what you are grateful for today. 

I agree with the many who are predicting things will be different on the other side of this pandemic. It will escalate changes that were already in motion. It may create a significant pivot in how we do church. The good news is we don’t have to understand it all now or do it all this week. So, B R E A T H E, deeply.

Phill Martin
Rev. Phill Martin is the Deputy CEO of the National Association of Church Business Administration. Phill’s passion is to engage and connect individuals and organizations to help them reach their maximum potential. He enjoys coaching, teaching, mentoring and connecting people with information and resources. Learn more about Phill Martin. He is a coach and consultant for CHC.