What is the church's role during the global coronavirus outbreak? New offerings and resources from the Faith & Leadership archives can help in these difficult times.
Acrostics and mesostics are forms of poetry; acrostics intersect the first letter of each line and mesostics intersect in the middle. Illustration by Jessamyn Rubio
Poetry from the book of Lamentations invites us to find words for our feelings and offers a form to contain that which feels uncontainable and uncontrollable, says a writer.
Workers at Convent Avenue Baptist Church offer free coronavirus testing for people in their West Harlem neighborhood. The five-day effort in May has served as a model for faith-based communities to help close the racial gap in access to testing. Photo courtesy of Convent Avenue Baptist Church
Inspired by the success of a program at Convent Avenue Baptist Church in West Harlem, a national nonprofit hopes to encourage other congregations to get involved in overcoming the logistical, emotional and financial barriers to COVID-19 testing in underserved communities.
We update this list of information from government and media sources regularly to offer guidance to pastors and other Christian leaders struggling to respond to the pandemic of COVID-19.
Jessica Young Brown: Who cares for the shepherds? The secondary trauma of faith leaders must be addressed
The toll of the last six months on clergy requires a sustained response, from the seminary and denominational levels as well as congregations, writes an expert on faith and mental health.
Some of our go-to conflict resolution practices may have to be creatively re-imagined because of the pandemic. A professor who has studied conflict offers four suggestions -- and a warning -- about resolving congregational disputes.
More than 550 congregations took part in Lake Institute’s survey about the pandemic. While their finances have been impacted, many faith communities are adapting, which will be critical moving forward.
Mycal X. Brickhouse snuggles with his grandmother, who died in July of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the author
After losing his grandmother to the coronavirus, a pastor and administrator reflects on policies that value money more than American lives.
Children and counselors break open the LEGOs at a 2018 summer session hosted by The Center. Photo by J.M. Giordano
The pandemic canceled summer mission weeks at The Center in Baltimore. But having a blank slate freed the staff to be innovative and to listen differently for the leading of the Holy Spirit, writes the organization’s director.
When we approach dauntingly complex decisions from a place of empathy and curiosity, we might discover a different solution, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
Fear is not the antithesis of faith and truth; nor does it indicate a lack of trust in God, writes a pastoral care professor and licensed clinical psychologist. Indeed, God created us with fear to keep us safe.
Virtual gatherings are here to stay, so let’s host them well, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
The long-term financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen, but the struggles will be as diverse as the schools themselves, says the executive director of The Association of Theological Schools.
A New York City pastor writes about the tradition of resilience in Black churches and how she finds joy in troubled times.
What Now? is a free, online creative tool to help congregations make decisions in the age of COVID-19. It is offered by the nonprofit RootedGood.
Disruption can be a good thing when it leads to needed change. But it’s hard. Here are the five stages of a healthy pivot when the structures you’ve built no longer work, writes the co-founder of RootedGood.
In-person worship services have not taken place at Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church of Christ since March 15. Photos courtesy of Concord Baptist Church of Christ; all services pictured took place prior to the pandemic
From one of the pandemic’s epicenters, a minister describes his congregation’s experience through death and new life over the last four months.
It is natural to be afraid at a time like this. But the spiritual practice of reading Scripture within a deep tradition can be grounding for us, and can help us be resilient in the face of fear, writes a UMC bishop.
Pastors can benefit from adaptable, restorative practices, writes a leading researcher on well-being in the workplace.
Parenting right now is chaos, but there is a lot of opportunity to teach our children to love God, says a worship leader.
COVID-19 emphasizes the need for ethical, evidence-based and visionary leadership, writes the executive director of Sojourners.
How we measure the investment in organizations can shortchange commitments that different racial, ethnic and cultural communities make to their ministries, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
Parents and professionals are working to provide safe and meaningful formation for youth this summer. Photo courtesy of Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Christian professionals and families partner to experiment with innovative approaches to youth formation in a socially distant environment.
Beyond keeping churchgoers safe when buildings reopen, congregational leaders need to consider these three things, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
Jesus healed through reversal, rescue and restoration. His healing did not just leave bodies and spirits whole. It left communities whole as well, writes a psychiatrist and theologian.
COVID-19 -- and its impact on black and brown communities -- is the American empire in viral form, writes the pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
Our fears and impatience in the season of COVID-19 are similar to the disciples’ experience following the resurrection, writes the director of the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
A hospital chaplain reflects on the core skill of her vocation: listening. In this time, it’s a skill that all Christian leaders can benefit from cultivating.
As many ministries are forced online during the pandemic, leaders must pay attention to and improve user experience, says a pastor.
Jesus Mendoza and Gabriela Izaguirre prepare lunches at the Global Blends deli. They are interns with the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which runs the restaurant. Photos by Mark Menjivar
When the students at the Baptist Student Ministry in the Rio Grande Valley opened a deli near campus, they knew it was innovative. What they didn’t know was that their restaurant would become a vital source of meals for people in need.
Clergy must honor all aspects of their lives to be healthy in ministry, writes a clinical psychologist who focuses on faith and mental health.
Poetry can give us words when we are struggling to find them, says a poet and activist.
By challenging our sins, affirming our gifts and helping us dream, holy friends give us what we most need right now, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
The author's daughter gathers Easter eggs on Palm Sunday 2020. The community Easter egg hunt was canceled because of the pandemic, so instead volunteers scattered eggs in the families' yards, surprising each child with a personalized goody bag. Photo courtesy of Allen T. Stanton
In times of sickness and anxiety, the deep relationships in a small-membership church can be a powerfully sustaining force, writes a leader in cultivating thriving rural communities.
Twelve Christian leaders share their thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic might affect the financial health and sustainability of American churches.
Pandemic response requires more than words of encouragement for those who are suffering. It requires concrete steps to undo systemic injustices, writes the director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School.
COVID-19 presents us with overwhelming daily challenges, but we must also begin to consider what's ahead, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
Don’t let the ingrained belief that only churches with full-time pastors can thrive keep you from making the switch to part-time clergy, writes an author who has researched the effects of part-time ministry.
As Eastern Orthodox Easter approaches, a writer reflects on how we may find ways to adorn and anoint and bless the new world in which we live, dark as it is.
Worshipping online Easter Sunday was an extraordinary experience filled with joy and grief, writes the associate editor of Faith & Leadership.
The “practice” of social distancing is like many of our spiritual disciplines, requiring intent and yielding sometimes intangible results, says a writer.
As the pandemic keeps us from visiting our sanctuaries, a professor of Christian spirituality considers a notion from Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Sabbaths are our great cathedrals.”
A holy season marked by pandemic can still bear witness to hope, peace and faith.
Because Christ is alive and has gone ahead of us, the ministry of the church can be carried out in homes and through relationships, in the smallest of settings. That is how it was in the beginning -- and how it needs to be in this moment, writes the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Pastors can be tempted to fill this time of fear with overproductivity. We need to resist that urge.
Twenty seconds doesn’t seem like a long time -- until you try to follow the guidance to wash your hands for that long to avoid the new coronavirus, writes a pastor.
Online church offers congregations the ability to continue being church amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading during a global health crisis requires trust in medical professionals and the courage to love and not fear, say two pastors who cared for a congregant whose life was upended by Ebola.
Deanna Thompson: I thought digital presence was a poor substitute for embodied presence. Then I got cancer.
Her experience with serious illness convinced a theologian that the virtual body of Christ can make a real difference in a hurting world.
A man in Ferguson, Missouri, holds on to a fence on August 15, 2014, at the site of a convenience store destroyed during rioting after the shooting death of Michael Brown by police.
Bigstock/Gino Santa Maria
In an age of nonstop media that exposes us as never before to the world’s pain and brokenness, lamentation is an essential and even revolutionary act, one that the church needs desperately to reclaim, says a young pastor.
It’s easy to be intimidated by technology. But technological skills aren’t the most important part of online ministry, writes a former digital missioner.
Deeply and faithfully loving and caring for oneself is enough -- it’s not just a pause between activities, writes a seminary professor and psychologist.
Challenges are part of any ministry, yet some clergy thrive despite the inevitable setbacks. New research shows that their keys to success can be boiled down to a few simple strategies available to anyone.
On the verge of burnout, a hyperbusy ‘Martha’ goes on a retreat, hoping to channel her inner ‘Mary’ -- but finds it hard to let go of her Martha-like ways.
Like runners, ministers benefit when they learn healthy habits that allow them to pause and experience restoration from concerns and fatigue and be refilled by the spirit of God. Bigstock/Dean Drobot
Mike Cope: Contemplation, relationships, emotional maturity and self-care are key to pastoral thriving
Theological training doesn’t offer ministers everything they need to flourish. Pastoral peer groups that develop additional competencies can fill the gap, writes a minister who is director of ministry outreach at Pepperdine University.
In the midst of a painful health crisis, a simple prayer revealed God’s presence not only in the midst of the writer’s own suffering, but also in the suffering of others.
For overstressed, overworked Christians trying to save the world, watching TV and other squandered moments are not a sign of laziness or complacency but a fitting response to the call to Sabbath.
Theology and medicine
A young mother diagnosed with cancer talks about her new book, “Everything Happens for a Reason,” and the connection to her work on the prosperity gospel as a Duke Divinity School professor.
Caring for the ill and dying is work the church should claim, says Duke University pediatric oncologist Dr. Raymond Barfield. Medical institutions don't have the capacity to offer the spiritual care that is the church's domain.
Medicine needs physicians who can call on the Christian tradition to offer another way of thinking about human flourishing, sickness and health, says a physician-theologian.
Dr. Jon Kocmond looks at photos of his family in his home office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kocmond lost his 16-year-old son, Nathan, to suicide in the fall of 2017. He has since been active in the suicide support group at Christ Episcopal Church. Photos by Wendy Yang
A 6,400-member congregation in North Carolina has created a “wellness director” position after experiencing six suicides in five years.
Today’s digital networks have an ancient precedent: the apostle Paul led fledgling communities through letters -- showing that even in its earliest days, the church was not dependent on physical presence.
Leadership in a crisis
AME founder Richard Allen saw in the 1793 yellow fever epidemic an opportunity to help his fellow citizens and to advocate for equality, writes Rochester Institute of Technology history professor Richard Newman.
Being a leader is like being the captain of a ship, says AME Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie. Sometimes you just have to say, "Put your oars in the water."
Sometimes institutional leaders are focused on survival. These questions can help shift thinking toward thriving, even in a climate of scarcity.
The current economic crisis is hitting Christian organizations hard. Keeping the church financially healthy while staying true to its mission requires honesty, courage and planning as well as faith.