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The Pandemic Destroyed My Certainty—Or Was It God?

Ongoing disruption exposed my ministry idols, helping me see the work of the kingdom.
The Pandemic Destroyed My Certainty—Or Was It God?
Image: Illustration by Daniel Liévano

This fall marks my 24th year of leading Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, and my 34th year in ministry. I thought I had seen all that ministry could throw at me, from the early days of fighting over pews versus chairs to the seeker-sensitive movement, which some translated as selling out the Bible. I’ve watched pastors fall; ministries fail; and the worst scandals that money, sex, and power can bring occur in the bride of Jesus. Still, the pandemic and all that’s followed have been by far the most tension-filled, challenging years of my ministry. And I know I’m not alone.

The pandemic revealed the inadequacies of many tried-and-true ways of measuring our ministry health. I had thought I was driving a Jet Ski but realized I was steering a barge. Regardless of how quickly I wanted to change directions, the thing just wasn’t built to do so. The pressure and stress of this unprecedented time also exposed the condition of my soul and emotional life as a leader. ...

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