COVID-19 Pastoral Response Kit

With the advent of the Coronavirus—COVID-19—pandemic, the world is facing an increasingly challenging time. This biblical pestilence is taking lives, altering lifestyles, impacting our economy, and challenging our families and culture. Beyond anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, this pandemic’s impact, while seemingly draconian for the moment, could well extend for many months. This means that our civil and church leaders are not only immediately faced with difficult choices, but may be facing a longer-term challenge as the U.S. and world population is faced with a deadly and invisible enemy.

COVID-19 Pastoral Response Kit A

COVID-19 Pastoral Response Kit B

New George Barna Research: ‘Dangerously’ Low Percentage of Americans Have a Biblical Worldview

Well-known social science researcher George Barna introduced brand-new research about Americans’ worldview on the American Pastors Network’s (APN, popular, live, daily radio program “Stand in the Gap Today” last week.

APN President and “Stand in the Gap Today” host Sam Rohrer said the program was aptly named “The True Deficit: Americans with a Biblical Worldview.”

“In recent days, many more than before have become deeply concerned about the country’s national debt, as the government is set to spend $2 trillion to provide needed aid to Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” Rohrer said. “Yet I would suggest that before budget deficits, before deep political infightings and before the moral crumblings of our culture, there is first a deficit in our relationship with God—a deficit of spiritual understanding and a deficit of how to view life and living from God’s perspective. This is the root of our national and cultural problems, the root of our pandering politicians and salivating citizens who only wish for more and bigger government, the root of our complacent churches and passive pulpits.”

Throughout the program, Rohrer and Barna discussed the key findings of “The American Worldview Inventory,” which Barna led in his role at the Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University (ACU). The research is the first wave of what will be an annual survey. The assessment is based on 51 worldview questions, examining both beliefs and behavior, which were provided to a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults.

Barna has called the research the “most sophisticated nationwide survey of worldview conducted in the United States.” Results include the following:

  • Although 7 out of 10 Americans consider themselves to be Christian, just 6% actually possess a biblical worldview.
  • Just one-fifth of those attending evangelical Protestant churches (21%) have a biblical worldview, as compared to one-sixth of those attending charismatic or Pentecostal churches (16%). The study finds even smaller proportions in mainline Protestant (8%) or Catholic (1%) churches.
  • The number of American adults holding a biblical worldview has declined by 50% over the past quarter century.
  • Regarding the youngest adult generation, the numbers are even more startling. A mere 2% of those 18 to 29 years old possess a biblical worldview.

“The fact that fewer than one out of five born-again adults hold a biblical worldview highlights the extensive decline of core Christian principles in America,” Barna said.

Among the differentiating factors between the new study and previous research, he noted, is the more robust measurement of action.

“In the American Worldview Inventory, we measure not just beliefs, but also the application of those beliefs—our behavior—because people do what they believe,” Barna added. “If you truly believe something, you integrate into how you live, and your lifestyle reflects those beliefs. As a result, our research always balances examining both what we believe to be true with how we translate such beliefs into action.”

Going forward, Barna will be a regular monthly guest on “Stand in the Gap Today.” He has filled executive roles in politics, marketing, advertising, media development, research and ministry. He founded the Barna Research Group in 1984 (now The Barna Group) and helped it become a leading marketing research firm focused on the intersection of faith and culture before selling it in 2009. He has written more than 50 books and his work is frequently cited as an authoritative source by the media.


Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

A Simple Lesson, A Profound Truth – Purpose Within Challenges

by Sam Rohrer

This morning the Lord brought a practical illustration to my mind that I trust will help encourage you as it did me —-from just a little thing in life. While listening to our Pastor’s devotional this morning, he reminded us of the practical application of Eccl 3:1 where Solomon the Preacher, wisely said, to ‘everything there is a season’. Indeed, that is true. In everything God’s hand is evident, His power and truth can be seen and His timing and planning perfect, if we but open our eyes and see.

On Friday I was outside raking leaves, trimming berry bushes and enjoying the sunshine of God’s creation. In the front flowerbed as you know is the bird bath. Last Fall I removed the basin from the pedestal and leaned it against the well casing to protect it during the freezing and thawing of winter. I was ready to put the basin back on the pedestal when I noticed that peeking from behind the basin were green daffodil tips that looked like all the other strong and blooming plants around it. I was excited that perhaps behind this cement basin I would find a large clump of healthy and ready to bloom daffodils.

I proceeded to pick up the cement bird bath basin and to my amazement, there was a very large clump of daffodils with the tips in bud waiting to bloom in a few days. Here’s where God showed me an eternal Biblical Truth that can apply to each of us who have a fear of God and are being redirected in our lives and thoughts during this Coronavirus epidemic. This is what I’d like to share with you.

When I put the basin back on the pedestal, I saw daffodils, as tall as all the others, with stems, and buds about to bloom. But here’s the lesson. As soon as I removed the basin which had provided a shield for the daffodils, they immediately fell over.  Growing in the shadow of the basin, blocked from the sun, the stalks were yellow and white, full of potential, identical DNA as the those growing in the full sun, yet unable to stand erect. Protected and shielded from the wind, the sun and the pressures of normal life, these daffodils were still daffodils. They had God-designed purpose and potential but could never realize all that God had intended hidden behind the basin. The tips I saw peeking out from behind the basin were as green as the others around, and they  would have bloomed as vibrantly yellow as the others, But, when the artificial protections of the basin were removed, they were unable to stand.

You can see the lesson I’m sure. The winds, the beating rain, the sun and normal life which confronts us all are necessary for strength and resilience, for color and for beauty, as God intends for us. This Coronavirus with its threat of pain or death, economic hardship and uncertainty for some and an altered lifestyle for all could well be that bird bath basin.

The removal of certain normal ‘guarantees, assumptions, and protections we’ve enjoyed are nice, but removing of them is part of God’s plan. There’s a season for everything. There’s a reason for everything. Therefore, be anxious for nothing. Consider the lilies of the field… Our Father above knows our needs. He will take care of us.

Now back to the daffodils, the pictures I took this morning still shows a weakly clump of daffodils. However, when I removed the basin two days ago the daffodils were exposed to the sun and wind for the first time. They had no choice in the matter. Yet, I as the gardener decided that the basin needed to be placed back in position for its good and the value it would be for the birds who use it and the beauty it affords for us when we look at it. These daffodils had their security removed and some would say, how sad. Yet, their God designed beauty was being prevented and they now have a chance to stand up, turn their natural color, and open their blooms to the world. I suppose that within another week, they will be standing stronger and greener than they are now.

God’s purpose for us in this life is to reflect the beauty and the strength, the hope and glory of our Creator. Difficulty and less than pleasant circumstances are often how God designs His Perfect Plan to evidence to the world around the power of His Saving grace and wonderful Plan of Redemption to be shown through us.

I pray that as we continue to face Coronavirus disruptions, we’ll thank God for Who He is, all He does, and pray that we can reflect His magnificent glory. For everything there is a season…

Approaching COVID-19 from a Biblical Perspective

by Dr. Gary Dull**

Originally posted on the Christian Post website HERE.

In the past few weeks, people all around the world have become familiar with coronavirus (COVID-19), which has resulted in great fear and concern by many. And just when we think we have learned all there is to know about COVID-19, a new day comes, and we find out something else that results in even greater concern. Only God knows how serious this virus is and how many people will be infected by it in the near future.

As a pastor, I have had many come to me with concerns about how COVID-19 can and should be approached. In addition, I have received numerous suggestions from various ministry, medical and governmental sources offering guidelines to adapt what eventually may bring a resolve to this tragic worldwide situation.

I thank God for those in the medical science field who are searching for a solution to COVID-19. I am also grateful for political leaders who are attempting to provide direction that will keep the general citizenry informed, calm and peaceful. But I realize that those of us who are in pastoral ministry have a great responsibility before God to provide the spiritual leadership necessary to guide America through this tragic circumstance.

Certainly, there is no lack of secular advice being given as to how to approach COVID-19. But I believe the ultimate approach should be from the biblical perspective that presents God’s way of dealing with this issue. Yes, we need to look at COVID-19 through the eyes of a biblical worldview.

One passage of Scripture to consider is Psalm 91, which teaches how God takes care of His own. Take time to read all 16 verses of this precious passage. To summarize the psalm, we are told that those who belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ dwell in the inner sanctum of the presence of God, who protects them as a mother bird cares for her young under her wings. The promise is that no evil shall befall them because God will keep them in all of their ways. Through God’s grace, love and mercy, He will “set them on high” and show them his salvation that involves the deliverance through whatever may come their way. This applies to COVID-19 and all other trials of life.

Realizing God’s promise to provide for His own as taught in Psalm 91, and then trusting God to keep His Word, as He always does, will erase the greatest of all fear, anxiety and panic in the hearts of the deeply concerned.

Experts from the site found that an overdose of Valium is accompanied by such an unpleasant symptom as CNS depression. Such a phenomenon can be of different severity, starting with drowsiness and ending with coma. Also, when taking large dosages of the drug, the patient may have hypotension, confusion and respiratory depression.

So how does one get to the place of trusting God and seeing His provision? Perhaps remembering the following facts about God will help.

  • God is in control. So depend upon Him to do what is right.
  • God has a purpose. So watch for Him to work.
  • God will provide. So trust in Him to deliver.
  • God has a mission. So declare His truth abroad.
  • God has a remedy. So praise Him for what He will do.

Even though there is a lot of advice being given in the world as to how to approach COVID-19, the sooner one focuses on Who God is, what God expects and how God works, and then is convinced of the fact that God causes, allows and directs all things according to His sovereign plan, the more one will experience the strength, hope, peace, comfort and confidence that only God can provide.

As Philippians 4:6,7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Yes, those who follow that comforting admonition from Scripture will surely experience all the provision of God that is needed to face COVID-19 or any other troublesome issue that will come upon us in life.

Remember the words of the old hymn written by Civilla D. Martin that says:

“Be not dismayed what-e’re be-tide, God will take care of you.
Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

“Through days of toil when heart does fail, God will take care of you.
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.

“All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you.
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.”

**Gary G. Dull is executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, board member of the American Pastors Network and co-host of APN’s “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program. He pastors Faith Baptist Church of Altoona.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Guidance for Churches and Religious Institutions Facing Coronavirus Restrictions on Gathering

The following information is reprinted by permission from First Liberty.  To read and/or print the original document, please click HERE.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has motivated some state officials to impose restrictions on the gathering of large numbers of people in one place at a time, including in a house of worship. Unlike other, voluntary restrictions self-imposed by organizations such as the NCAA or the NBA, these state-mandated restrictions carry the power of law, violating them may lead to legal consequences.

Church and state have an opportunity to work together to reduce the impact of the virus on our communities while encouraging calm and preserving liberty. We offer the following guidance:

  1. Religious institutions should continue to serve their local communities. America’s churches and religious institutions have played a central role in caring for their local community throughout history. Whether that is through acts of mercy, providing shelter, or simply being a source of encouragement and peace in times of crisis, America’s religious institutions should continue to be source of strength through service to their local community, especially as their communities may be particularly burdened during this pandemic.
  2. Temporary, evenly applied restrictions may be permissible. Government may not substantially burden the free exercise of religion unless it has a compelling reason for doing so, and even then, it must use the least burdensome approach that achieves that compelling interest. Temporary action to reduce the spread of a global pandemic is almost certainly a compelling reason, so long as the government is not treating religious institutions unfairly compared with how it treats other comparable gatherings. For instance, if state officials require churches to ensure that each service has no more than 250 persons, but officials do not require a nearby theater to do likewise, the state may have engaged in religious discrimination.
  3. Extraordinary state action to limit the peaceful gathering of American citizens must be temporary. Permanent restrictions on the peaceful assembly of American citizens—and especially those gathered to exercise their religion— violate the U.S. Constitution and are not permissible. As they have throughout history, churches and America’s religious institutions will play a key role in providing care during this global pandemic.


How Do Americans Feel About the Church Experience?

Going to church on Sunday morning with family has been part of the American culture for generations. But Sunday morning traditions are changing, along with attitudes and habits, as well as wants and needs, regarding church attendance.

For these reasons, the American Pastors Network (APN) is particularly interested in new Barna Research on “Five Trends Defining Americans’ Relationship to Churches.” Some of the trends include “church hopping,” differing opinions on the value of church, expectations about the outcomes of going to church, the importance of church on younger generations and the perception of the Church’s relevance to the community.

APN President Sam Rohrer says the drastic changes in people’s connections to their churches dramatically impact pastors.

“Nearly every pastor in America will likely report that the nation’s ‘church culture’ has shifted significantly over the past 20 years,” Rohrer said. “No longer is a deep, family connection to a local church the norm. In a society where we experience on-demand technology and up-to-the-minute communication, the wants and needs of churchgoers have changed as well. This affects pastors, not only in how they lead and preach, but in how they work to engage people to spread the message of the Gospel.

“Because of these cultural shifts,” he added, “pastors experience challenges that are new and foreign to many of them. It can be a constant struggle to ‘figure out’ what people want when they attend church. What moves them to action and what causes them to stay and be engaged?”

For decades, Barna has conducted research specifically on churches and church leaders, uncovering what they and others believe about their role in the church, as well as shedding light on their concerns and aspirations for both the local church. The most recent study on trends is part of Barna’s State of the Church 2020 project, a year-long examination of the spiritual and religious trends that define American life.

The five uncovered trends include the following:

  1. Nearly 2 in 5 churchgoers report regularly attending multiple churches. Declining church loyalty—or “church hopping”—is becoming more common, Barna says. While a majority of churchgoers tends to stick with a single congregation (63% churched adults, 72% practicing Christians), a sizable minority is at least occasionally attending other churches, including nearly 2 in 5 churched adults (38%) and one-quarter of practicing Christians (27%).


  1. Churchgoers are divided on the value of church. Another element of the churchgoing landscape is the paradoxical perceptions that churchgoers hold of church itself, Barna reports. Says Barna President David Kinnaman, “Those who frequent worship services do so largely because of personal enjoyment, but many churchgoers also readily admit that they believe people are tired of church as usual.”


  1. Churchgoers experience—and have come to expect—positive emotions and outcomes by going to church. Overall, churched adults say they leave worship services feeling inspired (37%), encouraged (37%), forgiven (34%), as though they have connected with God or experienced his presence (33%) and challenged to change something in their life (26%), every time.


  1. Church membership is still a common practice and is correlated with positive outcomes—but its importance is declining among younger churchgoers. Of those who attend church at least every six months, a little over half (54%) report being an official member at their place of worship, with 37% reporting they regularly attend but are not members. Practicing Christians show deeper commitment, with 71% noting they are members and 26% claiming regular attendance without membership. Generationally, Boomers are more likely than both Gen X and millennials to be formal members of their congregation, with nearly 7 in 10 churched Boomers (68% vs. 48% churched millennials and 51% churched Gen X) confirming membership. Younger generations of churchgoers were also more likely to mention “not applicable,” which suggests that the category of membership isn’t even part of their church’s nomenclature.


  1. The perception of the Church’s relevance to the community is under question—especially among non-Christians. While practicing Christians firmly believe that Christian churches have a strong community impact (66% very positive, 28% somewhat positive), the rest of the U.S. population is not as sure. Only 27% agree that churches have a very positive impact—the same percentage who say it has no affect at all. Non-Christians, meanwhile, are inclined toward indifference (39% no impact) or more willing to see harm in churches’ local contributions (8% very negative, 10% somewhat negative). These numbers challenge the church’s place in society, Barna says.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash