Still Silent, Shepherds? An Open Letter to Post-Pandemic Pastors
“What’s going on in California?” is a question that I’ve been asked a lot lately. This time last year, we launched what became known as #TheStadiumRevival. People came from all over Southern California to experience God in profound and powerful ways and we are doing it again this year. (More can be found here and below.)
Since then, we’ve experienced incredible church growth as the result of staying open during the COVID crisis. Pastors such as John MacArthur, Jack Hibbs, and Rob McCoy also experienced tremendous growth as well. It’s crystal clear that people are hungry for the truth. Many churchgoers are also tired of pastors capitulating to ungodly liberal organizations and agendas. If anything, the pandemic revealed what was really inside of our hearts.
Why Are the Shepherds Silent?
I didn’t rush to release this article, and I find no joy in doing so. I sat on it for over a year as I fasted and prayed fervently for direction, but the burden never left. I love pastors and understand that COVID was difficult to navigate. But I kept wondering: Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs calling us to repentance? Where is the boldness of Paul, Peter, and John the Baptist? Why are the shepherds silent?
Most pastors said nothing about the BLM, Inc. riots, skewed COVID death numbers, and draconian measures, but actually embraced them. I saw no emails calling us to prayer and fasting, but I saw countless correspondences apologizing for skin color, and focusing on unity that really meant: “Agree with my position and don’t challenge my thinking.”
In the Old Testament, the psalmist wrote, “Zeal for your house has consumed me” (Psalm 69:9). In the New Testament, Jesus displayed this zeal for his Father’s house when he drove out the moneychangers from the Temple. He was deeply and passionately concerned about what was going on in his Father’s house. Today, how many pastors can truly say they are consumed with zeal for our Father’s house? Apparently, not many. Many are like Samson, who “did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:20).
To Obey, or Not to Obey
Granted, I’m sure that most pastors believed that they were helping people by following all of the political mandates. If we had the black plague on our hands and a high death rate, I could see the need for drastic measures. But we didn’t, and most pastors didn’t want to hear opposing views. Whether it was vaccines, masks, or obedience to the government, “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” seemed to be the prevailing view. Were they more worried about liability insurance than spiritual liability?
Sadly, it appears that most pastors are not spending sufficient time in prayer while looking to God’s Word for strength and direction. Instead of allowing brokenness and humility to guide them, they choose pride and political correctness. As a result, they lacked boldness, fortitude, and spiritual strength. And that’s exactly why most of them did not challenge governmental oppression. They did, however, lash out at Spirit-filled members and pastors who lovingly challenged them. Talk about a mixed message!
I understand that some think that “loving your neighbor” means submission to the government to a “t,” but what about loving your neighbor who is living in fear? What about loving the families trapped in abuse and addiction? What about loving those caught in sin, depression and suicide? What about loving all your members who are dying spiritually because of pastoral cowardliness?
Additionally, our governing document is the Constitution, not leaders who oppose it. It begs the question: “Was our silence because of true concern, or because of a lack of boldness via the filling of the Spirit?” Most of us know the answer; we’re just ashamed to admit it.
I’m Just Not Political — Oh Yes, You Are
The “out” for many pastors to remain silent is to say, “I’m just not political.” But God has given us a wonderful gift known as America. The government isn’t bad or good; her people determine success or failure. Why would God ordain our government and then not want us to steward His gift. Many are guilty of not getting involved by saying, “We shouldn’t say or do anything political. All we need to do is preach the gospel.” Be careful … although the gospel is our primary focus, this shouldn’t be an excuse against action.
There are times to encourage, motivate and uplift, but there are also times to confront, challenge and contend for what is right — that time is now. The silence of post-pandemic pastors has cost our nation far more than we may ever realize.
Side note: Read my full, unedited article here. And If you’re near Southern California, we would love to see you this summer at our #TheStadiumRevival services. It runs every Saturday night through the month of August (but the final night might be Sept. 4th). The services begin at 6:45 pm at Lancaster Municipal Stadium in California (formerly JetHawk stadium). The only exception is June 26th. Or you can visit some of our other services: Sunday 6 am worship, or 9 am and 11 am church services, as well as Wednesday nights at 6 pm.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.