COVID-19: Encouraging and Informing the Church Body

Updated: Apr 8, 2020


John Pyles, Sr., Senior Pastor at Tabernacle of Praise gives insight on speaking words of encouragement to your congregation and staying connected no only within the church, but within families as well.

"I'm just praying that this is not just another phase that we go through, but that this will be a real true turning point, for our believers and nonbelievers. For our nation, for our world. This is a season of change."

Resources Mentioned:

Tabernacle of Praise

Facebook Live

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resource Page


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Good morning. This is Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds. Today I'm joined by Pastor Pyles with the Tabernacle of Praise in Northeast Houston. Thank you for joining us.


John Pyles:

Good morning brother Tommy, thanks for having me. I'm glad, I'm honored to be with you.


Tommy Rosson:

Thank you. Tell us a little bit about the impact of COVID-19 on your church and uh, and on your community.


John Pyles:

Wow. Um, where are you start? Well, COVID-19 has directly impacted that ministry. One of the greatest examples is that we were planning groundbreaking for the construction of our new sanctuary on Easter. And obviously that won't be taking place in. And the challenge is now is while leadership is how far do we push it back, how far do we postpone it to get people back into the mode, and so it's becoming challenging to keep people motivated and keep them encouraged, but at the same time deal with the realities of where we are. So COVID-19 has, we've been planning and planning and planning for this great day of celebration. And now all of a sudden, just when we thought we were about to break ground and get this construction started, here it comes.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah, no, that could be a big wow. That can be a big emotional hit on not just on your leadership, but also on your congregation. Just from the emotional side, tell me a little bit about what you're saying from a pastoral perspective to your community.


John Pyles:

Well, you know, obviously everything now has gone on the internet and with the Facebook live and whatnot. But I'm just trying to speak a word of encouragement to my congregation and to our community. We're inundated every day with news and media, and oftentimes we're not getting a consistent message from the different news sources. So people of faith, people who truly believe, who are rooted and grounded in the word of God and their Bible Packers, and they're Tom talkers, but they're still being so inundated with information that they're living in a state of fear. So I'm trying to provide a word of encouragement to my congregants, to the community over the last three weeks. That's all my word has been encouraging, encouraging and encouraging to not look at just what we're experiencing and what we're going through. But let's go back to that which we have believed, which we have stood on, which we have trusted that which we have counseled others with.


Now it's time for us to truly live by it. You know, one of the things that that's challenging. A lot of people will go, Sunday worship and midweek worship. But what I've done is I try to encourage our people on a daily basis. We have a daily morning prayer call from 6:30 to 6:45 and, and I'm just trying to keep our people connected, having them to reach out to other family members and get them on a three way call with us on the prayer line, even if they are not normal prayer line callers, let's keep the family together. Let's keep the fellowship together. Let's keep that reaching out to each other and just following up with people to see how they do it. But my word is their words of encouragement.


Tommy Rosson:

That's a great point. Also about staying connected with the people in your church as well as people encouraging them to stay connected with their family. And Francis, have you seen the results of that? Are you seeing the difference between those who are staying connected to those who aren't?


John Pyles:

Well, yes. Our church, we get calls on a daily basis asking when is, when are we coming back together? When is this going to happen? When is that going to happen? And, and they're, they're making those statements because they have isolated themselves. And, I've had numerous conversations with people who say, no, I haven't talked to this person. I haven't spoken with this person. I haven't spoken with this family member. I haven't seen this person. And so it's, I can see the mental challenges that is causing it. It's causing a lot of anxiety, that distancing is becoming more of just a buzzword. It's becoming a situation where you're going to see what we're seeing now. The impact that this social distancing has taken on the believers in the body of Christ. We are as believers, we are people friendly. Typically we love the fellowship. We love that connection. And now all of a sudden, without any pre-warning, all of that's been taken away from us. And so now, how do you fill that time? How do you fill that void? And you know, whether you used to just sit out on the front porch and talk the neighbor or standing in the yard and talk to the neighbor, now everybody's locked in their homes and it's become challenging. It's really challenging.


Tommy Rosson:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. As a pastor of a church, in the Northeast, especially in the African American community, you're seeing, many times, much more than just a pastor, but you're also seeing as kind of a new source and, and a guide to interpret what's going on. And so how's that, how's that been for you? And how's it to lead in this season


John Pyles:

Brother Tommy, that has become overwhelming because the church, as I said, and as you say, we, the pastors have been specifically in the African American church. The pastors have been the person that first individuals came to when there were social challenges, when there were political challenges, when there were community issues and whatnot, and they relied on the pastor. So I find myself having to stay informed with the different news sources and tried to parse through the information to see what best I can share accurately with our congregants. And so I even find myself overwhelmed. Sometimes I just want to push back and turn the news off and say, you know what? I don't want to hear anymore. I'll deal with it as everyone else does. But, but then I find that there's a pastoral responsibility as a shepherd, as a, as a father, a ministry, there's a pastoral responsibility that I have to make sure that I am as 2 Timothy says, I'm rightly dividing the word of truth, that whether they just be spiritual and or in the natural I, it's still my responsibility to be as accurate as I possibly can to share the information because I recognize I do have a medical background so that that does help. My wife was also in medicine, so that helps as well. So the weekend try to bring some layman's understanding to a lot of the medical terminologies and things that's taken place. So I find that my responsibility, to stay as informed as I possibly can. At the same time trying to have balance for myself as and for my family and for our congregation.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah. And especially in an environment, not only are you having to parse information that seems to be changing all the time, but also you're having to, you know, restructure your ministry on the fly. It's not like we're dealing with the disaster or, a very unfortunate situation that you might have to interpret it, but at least the church is the consistent. Now we've got both things in flux. How are you, what are you doing to personally kind of stay strong in that process?


John Pyles:

Wow. I am watching other ministers. I am utilizing, the social media is and the internet to build myself up to see how other pastors and other ministries or you look ...technology... And we are, thank God, prior to this we have a very forward thinking, socially. We had shared that information with our congregants even prior to that. So those persons who were working or absent were able to join us, be a strength. So we utilize those resources as well. But you know, from a balanced perspective for myself, I take walks in the backyard. My wife and I, we have an empty nest now, but, we just try and spend time with each other and go outside. I found that there's a lot that I need to clean out a throw away in my garage, so I'm getting garage time. So it's just little mini things that I need to just break up the monotony of