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Change fatigue

I’ve been misplacing my eyeglasses lately. I set them down for a moment, for a simple task like changing my clothes, and then I can’t find them minutes later. This is unfortunate, as I am nearsighted and need my glasses to work and to drive. In talking with a fellow mom, who is also struggling with a scrambled mind, we hypothesized that pandemic fatigue is causing these brain blips. I am tired. I am tired as a parent. I am tired as a pastor. I am tired as a human being.

I am also tired of navigating change. Pastors, parents and nearly all human beings on the planet have had to make adaptations since early 2020. We could not proceed with “business as usual,” which forced us to consider: What’s essential? What makes my family tick? What makes the church the church?

Pastors like me experienced something we had been talking about for years: The church is not the building. The church is not the facility in which people worship. Rather, the church is the people doing the worshipping, whether in a physical sanctuary, outside in a parking lot or from home.

Whether they were ready or not, all pastors and congregations have been navigating change since the pandemic began spreading around the globe: changes in worship times, locations and styles; changes in programming; and changes in how we do pastoral care. 2020 and 2021 have been two long years of CHANGE. Is it any wonder that many of us are tired and especially weary of change?

And yet, we must continue to change because we are not yet through this pandemic. We must continue to adapt, even after the pandemic fades. Christendom is breathing its last gasps in the United States. To be a Christian (especially a white Christian) still has its privileges and power, but those privileges are dwindling. I suspect this is one reason certain Christian groups are fighting like mad to maintain their political power. But beyond that, pastors and congregations recognize that most community members do not seek belonging in a church community, and so we continue to experience church closures and declining attendance across denominations. This leaves us (especially pastors) grieving and anxious.

What do we do then, when we’re tired of change but must continue to change to survive? As I read recently, pastors must rest. I believe it also helps us to remember two truths, core to our identity: God is God and we are not; and the church is the people called by God to bless their communities and to point others to Jesus through acts of kindness and the pursuit of justice. We worship together not as an end in itself, but in order to enliven us to the work God has for us. The church had an opportunity to be its most essential self in the pandemic. Will we continue to live out our essentialness in the new normal, whatever it becomes?