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Pestilence and Pastoral Ministry

As a pastor who is struggling through difficult questions facing my own ministry, Green — a man who was infected with disease as a result of pastoral visitation, who dealt charitably with the weakness of his family and wife, who labored tirelessly in preaching, and who recognized God’s blessing even in canceling church — is a tremendous encouragement.


As a pastor it hasn’t been an easy two weeks. To be clear, I’m not trying to throw a pity party. I know that as society shuts down over the COVID-19 pandemic almost no one has had an easy time. Each of us in our own place and vocation have challenges to face and obstacles to overcome. Personally, I haven’t met a single person for whom life is going on as normal. But I’m a pastor so I feel the unique burdens that this pandemic brings for the pastorate.

Namely, as a part of the leadership of the church I’m confronted with the difficult questions relative to continuing the worship and life of the church. As Christians we have a very high regard for all of God’s law. I find myself grappling with the difficulties of bringing together, for instance, the fourth commandment and the necessity of public worship with the sixth commandment and preserving the life and health of my neighbor. On top of that, suddenly the ivory tower discussions of the relationship between the church and state have become the practical theology of my daily routine. It isn’t easy to know what to do.

On a personal note, I’ve been disappointed with many of the pastoral responses I’ve read on these difficult questions. For me, they’ve actually created more questions. But yesterday I stumbled on an account from the pen of a late 18th-century pastor that has been very helpful to me.

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