If you’re a church leader in 2020, wherever you have served, it has been a tough year. Well done. When we think of you, these words of Paul come to mind:
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:2-3).
If you are a church leader, then the following messages are for you, written by Renew.org leaders to say thank you. If you aren’t a church leader, would you consider sharing this article and tagging a church leader you want to encourage?
…For enduring difficulties.
By Bobby Harrington, point leader of Renew.org
No one predicted that it was going to be such a difficult year, but, for most leaders in ministry, it has been a year of managing conflict. You have endured the “mask or no-mask” question, with people on both sides thinking you are evil if you do not see it as clearly as they see it. You followed Jesus through the landmines of an election with a president that embarrasses the faithful (by the way he personally talks) on the right and a party leaning to socialism and moral breakdown on the left—and people were confused on both sides of that choice. And now, we face Thanksgiving without the ability to open our homes widely and head into December facing a pandemic at its peak.
But you are trusting God to help and guide you.
The apostle Paul described what you church leaders are enduring, in a heightened fashion, for the sake of the church (Colossians 1:24):
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
In these difficulties, you are following the path of Jesus even more intently now, as leaders.
I am grateful for everyone like you who seeks to faithfully lead God’s church.
…For keeping your church unified during an election year.
By Marcos Mercado, Renew.org Urban Regional Director
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let me shout these simple yet profound words of encouragement: Thank you! Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your humility and willingness to lead during these unprecedented times. While the world is divided, thank you for striving for unity. While many become weary, thank you for persevering. As the world hurts, thank you for preaching words of hope and reconciliation.
Our brother Paul gave Timothy this charge:
“Preach the word [as an official messenger]; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not [keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome]; correct [those who err in doctrine or behavior], warn [those who sin], exhort and encourage [those who are growing toward spiritual maturity], with inexhaustible patience and [faithful] teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, AMP).
Thank you for your obedience and faithfulness to our King!
…For keeping your church safe during a pandemic.
By Jason Henderson, Renew.org COO
I want to thank you for keeping peace in your church in a divisive time like the COVID 19 pandemic. I actually had one lead minister tell me he thought he could preach heresy and it would be less controversial than suggesting masks be worn in church.
It’s not easy to love and protect the vulnerable and still teach trust in God over fear, especially when so many disagree on what that looks like. You have shown that churches can respect the personal convictions of those with whom they disagree and still love each other well rather than divide. We’re really proud of you for upholding the way Jesus taught us to love each other. Keep up this Christ-like leadership and exemplifying godly respect for others. I appreciate you.
…For keeping your church connected during a lockdown.
By Michelle Eagle, Renew.org Women’s Regional Director
This year you have agonized about how to keep people physically safe while not sacrificing their spiritual well-being. This has tested your imagination! I am so proud of how you have worked tirelessly to keep the people that God has called you to shepherd in relationship with one another.
You allowed God into the equation when it was hard. You wrestled with the tension of real health threats, political stances, and personal conviction about God’s sovereignty and how it applies to opening your churches. Then you led your church and understood the critical need to keep the people that have been entrusted to you connected. Connected to God, the local church, and one another.
You have been stretched thin by the needs and extreme points of view of your church members, but you have risen (very early in the morning usually) to the challenge and loved your people well. You have shown resilience and adaptability that God’s people need daily examples of. It has been exhausting work but worth pursuing and persevering through.
Thank you; the Kingdom of God is stronger because of your willingness to serve.
…For keeping your church faithful during cultural changes.
By Mike Rosser, Renew.org Director of Learning Communities & Relationship Development
Leading is hard, even when times are good. Being called to lead a church in the midst of what some are calling “America’s Cultural Revolution” gives new meaning to hard. As if dealing with a deadly pandemic and contentious election weren’t enough, we’re experiencing societal upheaval and racial unrest like we haven’t seen since the 60s. Many live in fear of being “canceled” for saying the wrong thing (that, just yesterday, was the right thing). Our youth are losing their faith in record numbers as our culture becomes more and more secular. Skepticism about God and the Bible abounds.
And yet, when faced with the challenges of 2020, you neither caved nor cowered. We desperately needed to be reminded of truth with a capital “T.” You came through for us, helping us navigate the straits of fear and confusion with the calming and clarifying light of God’s unchanging Word. We can’t thank you enough for your unceasing prayers, faithful teaching, and courageous example. You have provided help and hope when we most needed it.
Our prayer is for God to continue to fill you with His Spirit, providing strength, peace, and joy for the challenges ahead. Godspeed!
…For keeping your church compassionate during difficulties.
By Daniel McCoy, Renew.org Editorial Director
Putting it mildly, you already had a lot going on. Transitioning to online services. Connecting people somehow. Keeping payroll going. Mediating disagreements over when to reopen, how to social distance, whether to mandate masks.
But when needs arose around you, you didn’t stay focused only on what was happening inside the church. When you saw racial tension and hurt around you, you devoted yourself to figuring out how your church could pursue compassion and racial reconciliation. When you saw physical needs because of the economic downturn, you pursued concrete ways to meet those needs. You found creative ways to mobilize your church to reach out to lonely people, grieving people, hurting people.
Although you had plenty to worry about within the church, you led your church to turn outward. You may not have always felt like Jesus’ “light of the world,” but you were definitely a light to your community.
We couldn’t be prouder of you.