Read an article this week that made me pretty sad. It’s about churches closing in Minnesota, highlighting La Salle Lutheran Church.

Though it could be written about churches throughout the nation and some of what I see in New England. Not to throw a pity party, but ministry is hard. Too often people take out anxieties about lower attendance and less money (not to mention our charged political climate!) on their pastors. We’re easy targets. Meanwhile pastors suffer, often in silence. (BTW, this post is not a dig on my church. Because I’m in a good place, I can share this on behalf of those pastors who can’t for various reasons.)

Our society is changing and the Church is often viewed as irrelevant or judgmental/hateful. Lord knows some of that reputation is deserved. It’s why when I introduce myself to anyone outside the Church, I take the time to explain the UCC and local church I’m part of—I’ve developed an elevator speech. Though it saddens me to hear (too often!) that people didn’t even know that there’s churches like mine and pastors like me out there. That’s on us and we can’t afford to expect people to just magically come find us anymore.

Now I truly believe that God is with us and that God is doing a new thing. I believe in my lifetime entire denominations will come together. And/or that more churches will become Federated like mine—part of more than one denomination for 69 years in our case (American Baptist and UCC.) So change is happening, some of it good and necessary. AND the losses we experience are terribly hard.

Though we’re in this together.

Support your pastors, church staff, and lay leaders.

Be an advocate and not a critic.

Show up and encourage others to show up.

Take heart.

For God is with us, no matter what.