Pastors, encourage your church to be vaccinated

Dear Pastor,

Please encourage those in your Church to get vaccinated!

I’m a Pastor of a small Church in one of the Locked Down suburbs in Sydney. Our area is filled with people from different cultures and languages, and we are highly suspicious of governments and the medical fraternity – sometimes with good reason. But this has led me to be even more determined to encourage people (in love) to get vaccinated.

I get it. It’s a difficult and controversial topic. There is lots of noise out there. There are lots of competing ideas. There is lots of conflict. And lots of misinformation.

Let me share five reasons why I believe Pastors should encourage people in their Church to get vaccinated.

  1. It will protect them – One of the many duties of a Pastor is to take care of those God has placed under their care. Primarily, this comes through teaching God’s word and helping them live loving spirit-lead lives.However, it also, at times, will include their physical and mental health and wellbeing. For the safety of those in our Church, we ban nuts at morning tea. We make sure there’s a safety rail on the stairs. And we keep those away from Church who may pose a safety risk to others.Getting the CoVid vaccine drops someone’s risk of dying from the virus from 1 in 200 to 1 in 2,000,000. It’s a no brainer!

    Love those in your Church. Do your bit to help them make smart decisions for their own safety. Encourage them to get vaccinated.

  2. It’s an act of love – Paul says to the Galatian Church: “whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10). One of our jobs as Pastors is to help the members of our Church “do good to everyone”.Getting vaccinated is an act of love for other people. For those who aren’t vaccinated. For those who aren’t able to get vaccinated. For older people, sick people, and vulnerable people.God has put you in the position of being a leader in your Church – so LEAD! And lead people to love! What a great way to love not just your friends and family, but everyone in our city, our state and our nation.
  1. Your people are scared and worried – These are anxious times. We are scared. We are fearful. Our trust in the government has been crumbling, and this is a controversial issue. On top of this – the mental strains of being locked down, working from home, schooling from home, not being allowed out, or even losing a job is huge.In the midst of this, there are people in our Church spreading misinformation about vaccines and viruses – often with the best of intentions.Most of the hesitancy to get vaccinated does not come from a conscience issue – it comes from fear and anxiety.

    At this time, we need leaders – trusted leaders – to stand up and teach the truth in love. Teach it humbly. Teach it lovingly. But teach it!

    You help people in their fear not by remaining silent or refusing to “take sides”,  but by lovingly teaching the truth.

  2. It’s an opportunity to model submission to Government AuthorityPaul teaches us that government authority has been placed there by God (Romans 13:1). Peter teaches us to submit to human authority (1 Peter 2:13). Our government has not mandated that everyone gets vaccinated, and I think that’s a good thing.But they are urging us to get vaccinated.This is a chance to not only submit to our government – but to partner with them in something we agree on!

    Too often, we find ourselves (seemingly) at war with our government. It is right for us to hold them to account, call them out, and even defy them when they act against God.

    But in the case of vaccinations, they urge us to act in love and consideration of others! What an awesome opportunity! We can partner with our government in doing good!.

  3. Your silence speaks volumes – I’ve heard some Pastors say they are “remaining silent on the issue” as the Bible doesn’t directly address pandemics, viruses or vaccines. I think that’s a silly position to take – especially when you consider all the other topics Pastors speak up on for all sorts of good reasons!Your silence can end up saying lots,  without you even meaning to.Your silence could say you are more worried about what people think than people loving each other.

    Your silence could say you are more worried about singing in Church than people’s lives.

    Your silence could say you are more worried about your freedom than the safety of others.

    Your silence could say you are more worried about conflict than teaching the truth.

    Your silence could say you are OK with people in your Church teaching things that aren’t true.

    Your silence could say you don’t trust our scientific community or our government.

We are facing a once in hundred-year event. An event that is disrupting Churches and threatening lives. You have a chance to speak up now and urge people to act in love! Don’t remain silent!

I do want to finish with a warning. I do want you to urge and encourage people in your Church to get vaccinated. That’s a good thing, but I don’t think it’s right to burden their conscience.

As you teach on this issue, do it in a way that is gentle and loving. Be aware of the anxieties in your own heart and in the hearts of those you teach. Be aware that some of them have heard false information, many are confused and most afraid. Finally, be aware that there are a few who have real conscience issues about vaccines.

So be sensitive and work out the very best way to teach the truth in love to your church.

In Christ, Pastor Mike

Mike Doyle is senior pastor of St James Anglican Church and Lighthouse church in Berala in Western Sydney.

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