No matter who you are or what city, state, or country you live in, you are allotted a maximum of 168 hours a week that comes in 24 hour segments called days and adds up to 7 days a week. Yet, if you’re like me, our to-do lists are never-ending and rest always appears just out of reach.
As the Lead Pastor at Skyline Church, I’ve definitely been trying to sprint a marathon and rest has been just out of reach. Quite often, being a pastor requires twenty-four-hour availability. A pastor is never truly “off.” And the problem is … I LOVE IT.
Maybe you feel this way too? Whether your work, family, volunteering, finances, or even social media make you feel like you always have to be “on,” you’re struggling to find rest. Today I want to focus on characteristics of burnout. I’ll mainly focus on pastors but these principles apply to anyone who is sprinting the marathon of life.
Studies report that 90% of pastors do not retire from the ministry; rather they burn out, quit, or have a moral failure. This is shocking, particularly in light of Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The Battle Begins With the Pastor
The health and vitality of churches is dependent upon the health and vitality of pastors. The statistics mentioned below are so alarming that they cannot be ignored. There’s a clear correlation between the declining health of pastors and the declining health of churches. These statistics are before COVID, so we can imagine it is even worse now.
50% of ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
Over 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month.
Over 3,500 people a day decide to leave their church.
Those statistics are hard to swallow but the truth is the truth. Pastors seem to view ministry like a sprint instead of a marathon, thus we may not even recognize that we’re on the road to burnout as we strive to reach our goals, aspirations, and purpose. However, we often find ourselves sprinting towards workaholism, depression, fatigue, and various other health and moral issues.
How we prioritize our life is seen in where we put our time and energy. All aspects of life demand our attention, but where are you placing your focus? I recognize that even in the church there’s this invisible force conditioning us to overwork, not take breaks, vacations, or sabbaticals. Recognizing this is very important because a lack of personal renewal leads to spiritual dryness and burnout.
Identifying Characteristics of Pastoral Burnout
After extensive research in my doctoral studies, I have found the following three characteristics identify common signs of burnout in pastors.
Characteristics and Solutions to Burnout
1. Lack of Rest and Recreation
Have you experienced the unwritten rule that you need to work harder, longer, and move at a faster pace than anyone else? The first and most common characteristic of burnout is a lack of rest. Many of us do not have proper boundaries in place to protect our time. Our heart to serve causes us to want to be the good guy or the one the congregation can always count on. However, it is this heart to serve and help others that becomes a double-edged sword. Being “on” all the time comes at a high price. The first thing to go is rest and recreation. Many pastors and leaders thrive off the adrenaline rush that ministry can provide. We become addicted to being busy and working tirelessly. For this reason, it’s important to schedule in rest before our calendar fills up. If rest is not scheduled, it can easily get pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities. When it comes to the issue of scheduling the time, there is really only one person responsible for making this happen. No matter how busy a person may be, that responsible person is none other than the one in the mirror. However, it seems we would rather entertain the need to feel like an indispensable busy body. News flash … everyone is indeed replaceable.
Solution: The importance of taking time to rest, reflect, and refuel cannot be overstated. To get good rest means to disconnect entirely, to have none of your regular work/pastoral responsibilities, and if necessary to get out of town far enough away that if there is a crisis you couldn’t do anything about it. Although getting out of town may not always be possible every single week, it’s important to do so at least annually. Schedule at least one or two times a year where you get out of town for consecutive days or weeks. You’ll be amazed at how much relief you feel as you drive or fly out of the stress zone towards your vacation destination.
Now, I’m not talking to lazy people here. There are lazy pastors and lazy people in all vocations. And while lazy people will always exist and always try to manipulate the benevolent time off or vacation system set up in their particular place of work, rest is necessary for those overworking and sprinting too hard. So, start by scheduling an annual getaway.
That’s the big picture, but what about the weekly grind? On a weekly basis, it may be just a day or two a week where the phone is turned off and the email is not checked and rest and recuperation are the main focus of that day. To get the rest we need, we need to have boundaries and not let people encroach or break down those boundaries. We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that we can or need to do everything. The church actually becomes less healthy and less of a biblical church community when ministry is not shared among believers (see Ephesians 4).
A second characteristic of burnout is the feeling of discouragement. Discouragement can come in many forms, though mainly through conflict, criticism, and division within the church. It should be no surprise that the average pastoral tenure is between three and four years. That’s just about the time the honeymoon is over and people begin to feel comfortable enough to let the pastor know how they really feel.
Maybe you’ve experienced criticism while serving in your church. When criticism is levied, pastors may not feel like addressing the issue. One may feel it is more Jesus-like to simply “turn the other cheek” for fear of offending someone. This only adds to the discouragement, and this is not the Jesus way. Jesus confronted and he even offended. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” On many occasions, Jesus confronted those who needed it, especially the Pharisees. We all need to love those in our church enough to speak the truth and when necessary confront the critic or the creator of the conflict.
When discouragement piles up, it becomes difficult for us to see the vision God has for a given ministry. At Skyline Church, our staff and leaders are constantly reminding one another and keeping the vision for our church in front of us. It’s necessary for this reason: Complaints speak louder than compliments. You may receive fifteen compliments and one complaint about the same topic, and the complaint is the one we remember. It’s unfortunate yet it is human nature.
Criticism often leads to conflict and conflict is one of the main reasons for discouragement. Enough discouragement and anyone is tempted to throw their hands up in defeat, wondering if it is really worth the trouble. This discouragement leaves us feeling like we can never live up to the expectations set before us.
Solution: One of the primary ways to defeat discouragement is through what has already been stated in scheduling rest and recreation. This is of great importance in having a renewed mind and heart and being ready to fight the good fight. However, there are many other ways to defeat discouragement.
One of the most effective ways is to connect with other people who are in the same boat as you. Some of our healthiest leaders at Skyline Church are connected in one way or another to a support group with people within or outside our own congregation. It’s important to be around others who have no expectations of you. This can give us a sense of realness and relief that we’re not regularly experiencing.
This is one way to turn the “on” dial way down when we’re unable to take that annual get away just yet. It’s important to share your burdens, expectations, and pressures with others who are in a similar position. I guarantee that doing life in community with others will bring you encouragement and refreshment.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
We are often our own worst enemy. Having the heart to serve and please people can backfire when we’re just not able to live up to our own lofty expectations. Saying no is a challenge for a lot of people. We may even know in the back of our mind that no one is limitless, yet we tend to act otherwise. You are not superhuman. In fact, it’s good practice to confess your limitations.
The Lord is the only limitless One. Realizing this frees us to be who we are meant to be in life and in ministry. Every human being is limited, on purpose and for a purpose. We must remember to acknowledge our limits as pastors, leaders, volunteers, parents, co-workers … you name it. People demand much of us because they are used to, or expecting to get what they want. Unrealistic expectations ultimately lead to burnout.
Solution: Remember this … when you say “yes” to everything, you’re actually saying “no” to something. Ask yourself what you’re saying “no” to. Is it your physical health, mental health, family, another opportunity?
Burn Out Prevention
I’ll leave you with this analogy … it’s no secret that injury prevention is key in sports. Professional sports teams spend millions of dollars on injury prevention for their athletes. They know the investment means keeping the player in the game. They view their work as vital to helping an athlete make it through the long season uninjured thereby giving the team the greatest chance to succeed. This concept can also be applied to the “sport” of ministry.
The reality is that more and more people are entering the marathon of ministry, yet only a few finish the race well. This is very discouraging for the church and the mission of helping people find and follow Jesus seven days a week. Many will avoid this race because it is just too hazardous an occupation! However, there is hope. Burnout is absolutely preventable! Just as injury prevention is key in professional sports, injury prevention is key in thriving in ministry.
Saved People Serve People
After a very long sprint of doing ministry, I’m excited to take a break. Merging Seven San Diego Church and Skyline Church only to turn around and face the most unprecedented year of challenges with crazy COVID rules and regulations … that really set a tone for sprinting this marathon of ministry life. I am thankful that we opened, faced the pressure from the County, shouted our stance from the rooftops to the media, politicians and anyone else who wanted to know. We stayed open and served people all year and we will continue to do so.
We’ve built some great momentum (we’ve added over 2,500 new people every Sunday taking us over 5,200 people in average attendance last month). We’ve overcome some incredible obstacles and strengthened our Pastoral Team with God’s leading and blessing over the course of the past few years.
I’m confident that spiritual fruit will continue to grow while I am away for this short vacation. While no physical, mental, or spiritual injuries have occurred, I know that rest is the next best step for me to take as your lead pastor at Skyline Church … even though I LOVE THE SPRINT … but I know I need to prepare for the marathon, not just the sprint. For the next few weeks, I will be taking some time off from my regular pastoral duties to fully unplug and recharge. Our outstanding pastoral team and staff will be here to take care of any and all needs you may have.
One of the core values of Skyline Church is “Saved People Serve People.” This is part of the DNA of Skyline Church. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus! As we look to the future, we believe God has a tremendous vision and plan for Skyline Church. This plan will require that our core members assist in serving our new body of believers with the ultimate goal of living out our purpose of “Helping people find and follow Jesus seven days a week.”
For those who are stepping more and more into ministry by serving with their time and gifts, it is important to identify common characteristics of burnout AND then adhering to the solutions mentioned above. We value you and your walk with the Lord and want you to stay rested, encouraged, and fulfilled in serving the great commission. This will not only help ministries survive the marathon but thrive all the way through the finish line.
Inconsistency is one of the most frustrating things about people and life in general. I was driving on the freeway the other day and I was behind a car in the fast lane (surprisingly it was not a Prius) that had no one in front of them and was going 75mph or so. This was great until they slowed down to 60 then sped up to 70, then down to 55, then up to 75, then down, and this continued for several minutes as I was boxed in with cars behind me and on my right. I could do nothing about the inconsistent vehicle in front of me.
It became frustrating not because the person was driving 75 in the fast lane or even 70, the frustration came when they would slow down and then all of the sudden speed up and the line of cars behind them would get up to speed only to have to put on the brakes again because of the sudden slow down. As a driver in the fast lane or a person in general, we value consistency. We need some element of predictability to get where we’re going in life.
Inconsistency is what we’ve been dealing with as people, especially in California, since 15 Days to Slow the Spread has become 15 months to keep the people under the thumb of an increasingly socialistic governmental rule. Let’s take a look at just some of the many inconsistencies that have cropped up over the past 15 months or so. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Links are provided for all articles mentioned.
When we first started hearing about Covid there was news that if it becomes a national emergency we would be short of the needed resources to effectively manage the virus. It all started with the alarming news that Americans would not have enough respirators. You may recall that in March of 2020 we were told we must shut everything down because there is a dire respirator shortage in America. It was predicted that hundreds of thousands of people would flood the hospitals with Covid and not survive due to the respirator shortage. See article here from April of 2020.
The inconsistency baffled us as the ventilator shortage never materialized. Rather quickly we were told we were actually in good shape with ventilators. We expected the shutdown to be over and things would begin to get back to normal. But hold on, it wasn’t ventilators, it was hospital’s becoming overwhelmed. Cue the Mercy Ship and Comfort Ship arriving in New York and Los Angeles and Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse pop up hospital in Central Park, New York with the capacity to handle thousands of critical Covid patients. Hold on… neither the ships nor Samaritan’s Purse were needed.
More inconsistencies came to the surface. Frustrations mounted as more and more people were losing their jobs and businesses around what seemed, at the time, to amount to a typical flu season. Churches, schools, gyms, shopping centers, sports, and on and on were shut down. People were frustrated and confused as the predicted numbers were not materializing. Then, mandates for us “common folk” were not being followed by those who were forcing the mandates on us.
The Governor stood in front of cameras and boldly proclaimed a 10% pay cut for all California State workers due to the pandemic. Stating that many people in California were out of work due to the lockdowns and that he is “just like them” and needs to show solidarity. He stated it “starts with me” and claimed he would be the first to take the pay cut. However, it turns out he did not take the pay cut. Inconsistent again. He mandated businesses be closed, yet his own business (a winery) remained open into July. Inconsistent again.
In California we were told we could not send our kids to school, yet our Governor decided it was appropriate to send his kids to school. Apparently, it was safe for his kids but not for ours. He told California parents that he was “like them” living through “Zoom school” yet he had been secretively sending his kids to in person learning for months. The inconsistency was evident.
We were told not to go to restaurants and that restaurants were closed, even to outside dining for long periods of time. Yet, the inconsistency reared its ugly head again as the Governor decided it was a good time to spend taxpayer’s money inside a restaurant with over six different family households and not even go through the exercise of wearing a mask. Inconsistent again. I think former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer actually said it best,
“His kids can learn in person. But yours can’t,” Faulconer tweeted. “He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t. He can dine on a $350 meal at one of California’s fanciest restaurants during the worst recession in generations. But you definitely can’t. Can you believe this? I can’t.”
Or, speaking of inconsistency, let’s take Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. An aunt of Newsom’s through marriage, she told everyone it was not safe for salons to be open. Yet, as the lockdowns continued, she contacted her salon and made sure they would usher her in where she could receive special treatment. Nancy’s Hair Day Apparently, it was safe for the Governor and the Speaker of the House to live in normalcy and go to restaurants and hair salons but for the rest of us, we needed to stay masked and stay home and just obey what the government tells you. The inconsistency of what was being said and what was being seen was and continues to be the cause of mounting frustration.
We were told to “follow the science” and keep your distance and mask up. Yet, right away Dr. Fauci told America, “Masks don’t help against viral agents like Covid.” Later he flip flopped, and he continued to flip flop. As political pressure mounted on him, he changed his tune. We were initially told to social distance six feet, then three feet became the safe distance, then back to six …..Again, inconsistent.
We were told that over 2 million people would likely die from Covid. Yet, when digging into the “science” we saw that every kind of death you can imagine was being labeled “Covid.” As I’ve already written about (see blog Face the Facts here), hospitals were paid more for Covid deaths than other deaths so there was an incentive in place to name deaths “Covid.” While there are still too many deaths listed (500,000+) it has never been near 2 million thankfully. The inconsistent science was and is driving people mad.
Even with the Covid deaths listed falsely (the CDC website actually says “confirmed” or “presumed.”) How can it be presumed? It either was or was not due to Covid. They have incredibly inaccurate PCR tests for Covid. Again, this is one of the ways the numbers were and are inflated. The whole procedure for naming a Covid death was and is still wrong.
Let’s take a look at the current science. As of May 11, 2021 the United States has 596,874 Covid deaths. The US has a current population of 332,664,383 million people. That equals a death rate of less than 0.017%. The number is calculated since the beginning of data collection in 2019. So, we are nearing two years of Covid data collection. If we were to cut that number in half by years, we would see about a 0.009% death rate. To put that in perspective, according to the CDC about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. That is a death rate of .0019%. that is higher than Covid…every year. While that is still tragic, it puts it in perspective of what has really been happening in our country.
We don’t shut everything down because of heart disease. We don’t stop eating, stop drinking, stop going to baseball games that serve hot dogs high in saturated fat and nitrates, we don’t stop living because heart disease is the #1 killer in America. We don’t shut everything down because people die of the flu or other viruses. We don’t lock people down because over 36,000 people die ever year in car accidents. We don’t keep people from living their lives because of a 0.009% chance (with inflated numbers) of dying from Covid…Except, that is EXACTLY what our government has done.
Included in the inconsistencies of the scientific jargon that is out there is the fact that there is prophylaxis that actually work against Covid. And, if someone is symptomatic there are proven treatments that work against Covid. Why then the vaccine? More on that later…
Churches, Pastors and Christians preach and live by faith. “God is bigger than the virus,” yet when their people tried to show up for church, they saw locked doors, Covid signs, and empty churches.
To be clear, in the beginning, it was wise to close down. Nobody knew what this Covid thing was or would be. However, it did not take long to figure out the inconsistent messaging coming from the governmental leaders to realize, this Covid thing is not what it is purported to be. A virus yes, but one that should cause churches, schools, and businesses to shut down, NO.
Now, as I talk with pastors everywhere, it is clear, those that decided to remain closed for the longest periods of time are suffering the most now. We will see how this plays out over time, but initially these are the results of my informal survey. Many churches did not open until more than a year after initially closing. On average, those that remained closed and have now just recently opened are seeing about a 30% return rate. That means if the church was running 1,000 in attendance pre-covid they are seeing about 300 people now.
Those that opened early on and remained open are seeing an incredible rate of growth, some even doubling their attendance from pre-covid numbers. Why are many of the churches that remained closed seeing such a low return rate? Because of the inconsistent messaging.
As I talk with people who have changed churches the number one reason they changed is because their church remained closed week after week and month after month. At the end of the day, they could not reconcile how some churches were open and safe and their church decided to remain closed. It was hard for many churchgoers to comprehend that for years they were taught to live in faith over fear, but when it came down to it, their church leadership decided to live in fear over faith. They just could not identify with that kind of a church any longer.
People want to be safe, yes, but they also want to see pastors and leaders living out their faith in front of them. Shepherds are to lead by example. For those that defied the governmental orders (many using the rallying cry to follow “Christ not Caesar”) they are currently reaping the benefits of that decision with record numbers of salvations, baptisms and attendance.
I’ve previously written about the vaccine (Vaccine Yes or No?). The inconsistent messaging coming from governmental leaders continues to confuse. Does the vaccine work or not? The answer is a resounding…possibly. However, there are also variants to the Covid virus. Not only that but people that have been vaccinated are asked to continue to wear masks and social distance. Does the vaccine work or not? … the answer continues to be … maybe. Dr. Fauci said the risk is very small of contracting Covid after being vaccinated but you should continue to wear a mask and social distance. … because the vaccine works? Or wait, because it doesn’t work? I’m confused … it’s inconsistent messaging … again.
Sounds a lot like how every year there are variants to the flu virus. They say even if you get the covid vaccine you’ll need “booster” vaccine shots or entirely different covid vaccine shots every year. Wait, don’t they suggest you get the flu shot every year because there are variant flu strains each and every year? This couldn’t possibly be an attempt to keep people vaccine dependent, could it?
To be clear, I am not against all vaccines for all reasons. There have been some beneficial vaccines over the years. Smallpox, polio and diphtheria vaccines, just to name a few, have given people the opportunity to live life over succumbing to disease.
My issue is with the mandating of the vaccine. My issue is with the talk of vaccine passports which really amount to discrimination against healthy people. Not only healthy people but people in general who do not think it is a good idea to jab experimental mRNA into their bloodstreams. This should be a choice. This should be a free will choice in America where our freedom should still matter.
There is no way an experimental vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter, should ever be mandated on the human race. You should not be forced to take a vaccine, especially not in America. I would expect this kind of rhetoric coming from China. They have plenty of medical mandates that leave their people no choice but to conform. But this is America where freedom is supposed to reign. However, the truth is our freedoms have been and continue to be reined in.
I continue to pray over more people each week at church who have had bad reactions to the vaccine and are suffering and are scared. At this point, the risks far outweigh the benefits in my opinion.
Control not Covid
But here’s the reality, it’s not about Covid, is it? The Covid virus is certainly an issue in terms of its virulence and its ramifications on society long term. However, as the lockdowns and mandates unnecessarily continue, it becomes clearer and clearer that it is and has been about control. We have an entire governmental system that has been churning toward socialism for some time now. These mandates, including the mask mandates (Un-Masked) are about controlling your home, your business, your education, your church, your movements, your money, your future, and your life. Make no mistake, as more and more people blindly conform, we will continue to lose our way as Americans. But that is a blog for another time.
Here’s my concern moving forward. Just like there is no accountability for that car in front of me as they finally moved over and exited (they will simply do it again at the next opportunity), there will be no accountability for the way our governmental leaders inconsistently led our state and country. They will simply do it again at the next opportunity.
An over 8,000 percent increase ( 8,000% Increase) in suicide hotline calls in California due to the lockdowns should never be shoved under the rug. There must be accountability for these leaders that not only ignored the fact that there was an 8,000 percent increase but have ignored the fact that many Californians took their own lives because of the lockdown policies. We simply cannot stand by and allow politics to matter more than people.
I am glad there may be some accountability coming for the California Governor. The recall measure has passed by validating over 1.7 million signatures, which exceeds the minimum amount needed by more than 500,000. Now, we wait for a date to vote. A date to finally let our voices be heard. A day where maybe, just maybe, the inconsistencies will come to an end.
My guess is that you are even more frustrated with the inconsistencies of the last 15 months than I am following a car in the fast lane that can’t decide between 60 and 75mph. It’s time for the governmental mandates and control measures to move over into the slow lane. Better yet, they need to take the next offramp.
There is a reality to what has been going on folks…. the good old plain truth is hard to find these days. We’ve said it ever since the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” turned into “15 Months to Keep it Going.”
We’ve been lied to, coerced, manipulated, and worst of all no one’s been held accountable nor has anyone even repented. Despite the facts, the charade continues. That’s just the reality. You may disagree and you are entitled to your opinion but let’s ACTUALLY do what they have been telling us to do since the beginning and “Follow the Science…”
As you follow the science you realize what has been said from legitimate scientists from early studies until now remains the same, Covid is very much like influenza (see below). This is not opinion, this is scientific fact. If you disagree I challenge you to read the Stanford University study below… notice… Stanford, not a Christian University, nor a Conservative University… (some say this is not a Stanford funded study, rather it has Stanford doctors and researchers who participated in the research). One thing we know is that the Main Stream Media is attempting to discredit it. Yet, Stanford is a world renowned University known for its undeniable pedigree in research and science. You must do your research and not blindly follow a political narrative no matter how adamant it is constantly pushed.
The fact that masks do not work against Covid and the lockdowns have done more harm than good is not a useful narrative in California politics nor in Washington D.C. right now. Click the link below to see the facts of more overdose and suicide deaths than Covid deaths…and it’s not even close.
Again, this is not the narrative that the current administration wants accessible to the public. So, this post along with many others who have linked the scientific studies are being blocked by Big Tech. This post will more than likely be blocked sooner than later. Even major renowned doctors are being threatened by Twitter and Facebook to remove their posts about this or they will be permanently banned! Welcome to Big Tech Chinamerica.
Understand, this study was also posted by NIH (National Institute of Health)…a governmental agency. It was not picked up by any of the Main Stream Media and it has been buried on the NIH website…. you have to ask yourself WHY? Why are they so afraid of actual science? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7680614/
We’ve said it from the beginning, the reason is clear, it has not been about health it has been about control. It has been about Politics over People and enough is enough. We said enough is enough back in June when we opened Skyline Church and we have remained open. We did not require masks (though some chose to wear one, many did not). We are a healthier church community because of it. 99% of people on Sundays at Skyline did not wear a mask and now we have another scientific study to prove our decision was correct. We are healthier because we did not wear a diaper…err…mask on our face. We had NO outbreaks this ENTIRE TIME. How is that possible? Because we followed the actual science!
I want to encourage you as we move into this more magnified era of governmental overreach and control… push back. Never allow this to happen again. Never allow the government to seize your freedoms, dignity, and sense of peace among many other things. We must say NO. No I won’t wear a mask, no I won’t close my church, no I won’t close my business, no I won’t close my school….the science does not support it!
Let me encourage you, when you vote for a political candidate in the future, make sure you know where they stand on these most basic of American freedoms. What did they do during the 2020 year of Covid? What was their stance? Where do they stand today? Make sure you know before you vote or it won’t be long before double mask mandates and egregious lockdowns return.
Due to Big Tech censorship I have little confidence this link will remain working. I have also copied and pasted the study below in case that works better. If you want to know the truth about Covid and the efficacy of masks, read below.
It is a well-researched study and it is lengthy. If you want to see a synopsis, scroll down to Table 1.
What you need to know from me as your pastor and from your church leadership is that no matter the issue, no matter the consequences, we will always fight for the truth to be Un-Masked.
Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis
Many countries across the globe utilized medical and non-medical facemasks as non-pharmaceutical intervention for reducing the transmission and infectivity of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Although, scientific evidence supporting facemasks’ efficacy is lacking, adverse physiological, psychological and health effects are established. Is has been hypothesized that facemasks have compromised safety and efficacy profile and should be avoided from use. The current article comprehensively summarizes scientific evidences with respect to wearing facemasks in the COVID-19 era, providing prosper information for public health and decisions making.
Facemasks are part of non-pharmaceutical interventions providing some breathing barrier to the mouth and nose that have been utilized for reducing the transmission of respiratory pathogens . Facemasks can be medical and non-medical, where two types of the medical masks primarily used by healthcare workers , . The first type is National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified N95 mask, a filtering face-piece respirator, and the second type is a surgical mask . The designed and intended uses of N95 and surgical masks are different in the type of protection they potentially provide. The N95s are typically composed of electret filter media and seal tightly to the face of the wearer, whereas surgical masks are generally loose fitting and may or may not contain electret-filtering media. The N95s are designed to reduce the wearer’s inhalation exposure to infectious and harmful particles from the environment such as during extermination of insects. In contrast, surgical masks are designed to provide a barrier protection against splash, spittle and other body fluids to spray from the wearer (such as surgeon) to the sterile environment (patient during operation) for reducing the risk of contamination .
The third type of facemasks are the non-medical cloth or fabric masks. The non-medical facemasks are made from a variety of woven and non-woven materials such as Polypropylene, Cotton, Polyester, Cellulose, Gauze and Silk. Although non-medical cloth or fabric facemasks are neither a medical device nor personal protective equipment, some standards have been developed by the French Standardization Association (AFNOR Group) to define a minimum performance for filtration and breathability capacity . The current article reviews the scientific evidences with respect to safety and efficacy of wearing facemasks, describing the physiological and psychological effects and the potential long-term consequences on health.
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a global public health emergency of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing illness of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) . As of October 1, 2020, worldwide 34,166,633 cases were reported and 1,018,876 have died with virus diagnosis. Interestingly, 99% of the detected cases with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have mild condition, which contradicts with the virus name (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2) . Although infection fatality rate (number of death cases divided by number of reported cases) initially seems quite high 0.029 (2.9%) , this overestimation related to limited number of COVID-19 tests performed which biases towards higher rates. Given the fact that asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times higher than the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate is considerably less than 1% . This was confirmed by the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from US stating, “the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 are similar to those of severe seasonal influenza” , having a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1% , , , . In addition, data from hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and general public indicate that the majority of deaths were among older and chronically ill individuals, supporting the possibility that the virus may exacerbates existing conditions but rarely causes death by itself , . SARS-CoV-2 primarily affects respiratory system and can cause complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), respiratory failure and death , . It is not clear however, what the scientific and clinical basis for wearing facemasks as protective strategy, given the fact that facemasks restrict breathing, causing hypoxemia and hypercapnia and increase the risk for respiratory complications, self-contamination and exacerbation of existing chronic conditions , , , , .
Of note, hyperoxia or oxygen supplementation (breathing air with high partial O2 pressures that above the sea levels) has been well established as therapeutic and curative practice for variety acute and chronic conditions including respiratory complications , . It fact, the current standard of care practice for treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is breathing 100% oxygen , , . Although several countries mandated wearing facemask in health care settings and public areas, scientific evidences are lacking supporting their efficacy for reducing morbidity or mortality associated with infectious or viral diseases , , . Therefore, it has been hypothesized: 1) the practice of wearing facemasks has compromised safety and efficacy profile, 2) Both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to reduce human-to-human transmission and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, 3) Wearing facemasks has adverse physiological and psychological effects, 4) Long-term consequences of wearing facemasks on health are detrimental.
EVOLUTION OF HYPOTHESIS
Breathing is one of the most important physiological functions to sustain life and health. Human body requires a continuous and adequate oxygen (O2) supply to all organs and cells for normal function and survival. Breathing is also an essential process for removing metabolic byproducts [carbon dioxide (CO2)] occurring during cell respiration , . It is well established that acute significant deficit in O2 (hypoxemia) and increased levels of CO2 (hypercapnia) even for few minutes can be severely harmful and lethal, while chronic hypoxemia and hypercapnia cause health deterioration, exacerbation of existing conditions, morbidity and ultimately mortality , , , . Emergency medicine demonstrates that 5–6 min of severe hypoxemia during cardiac arrest will cause brain death with extremely poor survival rates , , , . On the other hand, chronic mild or moderate hypoxemia and hypercapnia such as from wearing facemasks resulting in shifting to higher contribution of anaerobic energy metabolism, decrease in pH levels and increase in cells and blood acidity, toxicity, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, immunosuppression and health deterioration , , , .
Efficacy of facemasks
The physical properties of medical and non-medical facemasks suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block viral particles due to their difference in scales , , . According to the current knowledge, the virus SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter of 60 nm to 140 nm [nanometers (billionth of a meter)] , , while medical and non-medical facemasks’ thread diameter ranges from 55 µm to 440 µm [micrometers (one millionth of a meter), which is more than 1000 times larger . Due to the difference in sizes between SARS-CoV-2 diameter and facemasks thread diameter (the virus is 1000 times smaller), SARS-CoV-2 can easily pass through any facemask . In addition, the efficiency filtration rate of facemasks is poor, ranging from 0.7% in non-surgical, cotton-gauze woven mask to 26% in cotton sweeter material . With respect to surgical and N95 medical facemasks, the efficiency filtration rate falls to 15% and 58%, respectively when even small gap between the mask and the face exists .
Clinical scientific evidence challenges further the efficacy of facemasks to block human-to-human transmission or infectivity. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 246 participants [123 (50%) symptomatic)] who were allocated to either wearing or not wearing surgical facemask, assessing viruses transmission including coronavirus . The results of this study showed that among symptomatic individuals (those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose ect…) there was no difference between wearing and not wearing facemask for coronavirus droplets transmission of particles of >5 µm. Among asymptomatic individuals, there was no droplets or aerosols coronavirus detected from any participant with or without the mask, suggesting that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit or infect other people . This was further supported by a study on infectivity where 445 asymptomatic individuals were exposed to asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carrier (been positive for SARS-CoV-2) using close contact (shared quarantine space) for a median of 4 to 5 days. The study found that none of the 445 individuals was infected with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase .
A meta-analysis among health care workers found that compared to no masks, surgical mask and N95 respirators were not effective against transmission of viral infections or influenza-like illness based on six RCTs . Using separate analysis of 23 observational studies, this meta-analysis found no protective effect of medical mask or N95 respirators against SARS virus . A recent systematic review of 39 studies including 33,867 participants in community settings (self-report illness), found no difference between N95 respirators versus surgical masks and surgical mask versus no masks in the risk for developing influenza or influenza-like illness, suggesting their ineffectiveness of blocking viral transmissions in community settings .
Another meta-analysis of 44 non-RCT studies (n = 25,697 participants) examining the potential risk reduction of facemasks against SARS, middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS) and COVID-19 transmissions . The meta-analysis included four specific studies on COVID-19 transmission (5,929 participants, primarily health-care workers used N95 masks). Although the overall findings showed reduced risk of virus transmission with facemasks, the analysis had severe limitations to draw conclusions. One of the four COVID-19 studies had zero infected cases in both arms, and was excluded from meta-analytic calculation. Other two COVID-19 studies had unadjusted models, and were also excluded from the overall analysis. The meta-analytic results were based on only one COVID-19, one MERS and 8 SARS studies, resulting in high selection bias of the studies and contamination of the results between different viruses. Based on four COVID-19 studies, the meta-analysis failed to demonstrate risk reduction of facemasks for COVID-19 transmission, where the authors reported that the results of meta-analysis have low certainty and are inconclusive .
In early publication the WHO stated that “facemasks are not required, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons” . In the same publication, the WHO declared that “cloth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance” . Conversely, in later publication the WHO stated that the usage of fabric-made facemasks (Polypropylene, Cotton, Polyester, Cellulose, Gauze and Silk) is a general community practice for “preventing the infected wearer transmitting the virus to others and/or to offer protection to the healthy wearer against infection (prevention)” . The same publication further conflicted itself by stating that due to the lower filtration, breathability and overall performance of fabric facemasks, the usage of woven fabric mask such as cloth, and/or non-woven fabrics, should only be considered for infected persons and not for prevention practice in asymptomatic individuals . The Central for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made similar recommendation, stating that only symptomatic persons should consider wearing facemask, while for asymptomatic individuals this practice is not recommended . Consistent with the CDC, clinical scientists from Departments of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in Australia counsel against facemasks usage for health-care workers, arguing that there is no justification for such practice while normal caring relationship between patients and medical staff could be compromised . Moreover, the WHO repeatedly announced that “at present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19) on the effectiveness face masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19”. Despite these controversies, the potential harms and risks of wearing facemasks were clearly acknowledged. These including self-contamination due to hand practice or non-replaced when the mask is wet, soiled or damaged, development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne and psychological discomfort. Vulnerable populations such as people with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, hearing problems, those living in hot and humid environments, children and patients with respiratory conditions are at significant health risk for complications and harm .
Physiological effects of wearing facemasks
Wearing facemask mechanically restricts breathing by increasing the resistance of air movement during both inhalation and exhalation process , . Although, intermittent (several times a week) and repetitive (10–15 breaths for 2–4 sets) increase in respiration resistance may be adaptive for strengthening respiratory muscles , , prolonged and continues effect of wearing facemask is maladaptive and could be detrimental for health , , . In normal conditions at the sea level, air contains 20.93% O2 and 0.03% CO2, providing partial pressures of 100 mmHg and 40 mmHg for these gases in the arterial blood, respectively. These gas concentrations significantly altered when breathing occurs through facemask. A trapped air remaining between the mouth, nose and the facemask is rebreathed repeatedly in and out of the body, containing low O2 and high CO2 concentrations, causing hypoxemia and hypercapnia , , , , . Severe hypoxemia may also provoke cardiopulmonary and neurological complications and is considered an important clinical sign in cardiopulmonary medicine , , , , , . Low oxygen content in the arterial blood can cause myocardial ischemia, serious arrhythmias, right or left ventricular dysfunction, dizziness, hypotension, syncope and pulmonary hypertension . Chronic low-grade hypoxemia and hypercapnia as result of using facemask can cause exacerbation of existing cardiopulmonary, metabolic, vascular and neurological conditions , , , , , . Table 1 summarizes the physiological, psychological effects of wearing facemask and their potential long-term consequences for health
Table 1. Physiological and Psychological Effects of Wearing Facemask and Their Potential Health Consequences.
In addition to hypoxia and hypercapnia, breathing through facemask residues bacterial and germs components on the inner and outside layer of the facemask. These toxic components are repeatedly rebreathed back into the body, causing self-contamination. Breathing through facemasks also increases temperature and humidity in the space between the mouth and the mask, resulting a release of toxic particles from the mask’s materials , , , , , . A systematic literature review estimated that aerosol contamination levels of facemasks including 13 to 202,549 different viruses . Rebreathing contaminated air with high bacterial and toxic particle concentrations along with low O2 and high CO2 levels continuously challenge the body homeostasis, causing self-toxicity and immunosuppression , , , , , .
A study on 39 patients with renal disease found that wearing N95 facemask during hemodialysis significantly reduced arterial partial oxygen pressure (from PaO2 101.7 to 92.7 mm Hg), increased respiratory rate (from 16.8 to 18.8 breaths/min), and increased the occurrence of chest discomfort and respiratory distress . Respiratory Protection Standards from Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Department of Labor states that breathing air with O2 concentration below 19.5% is considered oxygen-deficiency, causing physiological and health adverse effects. These include increased breathing frequency, accelerated heartrate and cognitive impairments related to thinking and coordination . A chronic state of mild hypoxia and hypercapnia has been shown as primarily mechanism for developing cognitive dysfunction based on animal studies and studies in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
The adverse physiological effects were confirmed in a study of 53 surgeons where surgical facemask were used during a major operation. After 60 min of facemask wearing the oxygen saturation dropped by more than 1% and heart rate increased by approximately five beats/min . Another study among 158 health-care workers using protective personal equipment primarily N95 facemasks reported that 81% (128 workers) developed new headaches during their work shifts as these become mandatory due to COVID-19 outbreak. For those who used the N95 facemask greater than 4 h per day, the likelihood for developing a headache during the work shift was approximately four times higher [Odds ratio = 3.91, 95% CI (1.35–11.31) p = 0.012], while 82.2% of the N95 wearers developed the headache already within ≤10 to 50 min .
With respect to cloth facemask, a RCT using four weeks follow up compared the effect of cloth facemask to medical masks and to no masks on the incidence of clinical respiratory illness, influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infections among 1607 participants from 14 hospitals . The results showed that there were no difference between wearing cloth masks, medical masks and no masks for incidence of clinical respiratory illness and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infections. However, a large harmful effect with more than 13 times higher risk [Relative Risk = 13.25 95% CI (1.74 to 100.97) was observed for influenza-like illness among those who were wearing cloth masks . The study concluded that cloth masks have significant health and safety issues including moisture retention, reuse, poor filtration and increased risk for infection, providing recommendation against the use of cloth masks .
Psychological effects of wearing facemasks
Psychologically, wearing facemask fundamentally has negative effects on the wearer and the nearby person. Basic human-to-human connectivity through face expression is compromised and self-identity is somewhat eliminated , , . These dehumanizing movements partially delete the uniqueness and individuality of person who wearing the facemask as well as the connected person . Social connections and relationships are basic human needs, which innately inherited in all people, whereas reduced human-to-human connections are associated with poor mental and physical health , . Despite escalation in technology and globalization that would presumably foster social connections, scientific findings show that people are becoming increasingly more socially isolated, and the prevalence of loneliness is increasing in last few decades , . Poor social connections are closely related to isolation and loneliness, considered significant health related risk factors , , , .
A meta-analysis of 91 studies of about 400,000 people showed a 13% increased morality risk among people with low compare to high contact frequency . Another meta-analysis of 148 prospective studies (308,849 participants) found that poor social relationships was associated with 50% increased mortality risk. People who were socially isolated or fell lonely had 45% and 40% increased mortality risk, respectively. These findings were consistent across ages, sex, initial health status, cause of death and follow-up periods . Importantly, the increased risk for mortality was found comparable to smoking and exceeding well-established risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity . An umbrella review of 40 systematic reviews including 10 meta-analyses demonstrated that compromised social relationships were associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, depression, anxiety suicide, cancer and overall physical illness .
As described earlier, wearing facemasks causing hypoxic and hypercapnic state that constantly challenges the normal homeostasis, and activates “fight or flight” stress response, an important survival mechanism in the human body , , . The acute stress response includes activation of nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, and the immune systems , , , . These include activation of the limbic part of the brain, release stress hormones (adrenalin, neuro-adrenalin and cortisol), changes in blood flow distribution (vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels and vasoconstriction of visceral blood vessels) and activation of the immune system response (secretion of macrophages and natural killer cells) , . Encountering people who wearing facemasks activates innate stress-fear emotion, which is fundamental to all humans in danger or life threating situations, such as death or unknown, unpredictable outcome. While acute stress response (seconds to minutes) is adaptive reaction to challenges and part of the survival mechanism, chronic and prolonged state of stress-fear is maladaptive and has detrimental effects on physical and mental health. The repeatedly or continuously activated stress-fear response causes the body to operate on survival mode, having sustain increase in blood pressure, pro-inflammatory state and immunosuppression , .
Long-Term health consequences of wearing facemasks
Long-term practice of wearing facemasks has strong potential for devastating health consequences. Prolonged hypoxic-hypercapnic state compromises normal physiological and psychological balance, deteriorating health and promotes the developing and progression of existing chronic diseases , , , , , , , , , . For instance, ischemic heart disease caused by hypoxic damage to the myocardium is the most common form of cardiovascular disease and is a number one cause of death worldwide (44% of all non-communicable diseases) with 17.9 million deaths occurred in 2016 . Hypoxia also playing an important role in cancer burden . Cellular hypoxia has strong mechanistic feature in promoting cancer initiation, progression, metastasis, predicting clinical outcomes and usually presents a poorer survival in patients with cancer. Most solid tumors present some degree of hypoxia, which is independent predictor of more aggressive disease, resistance to cancer therapies and poorer clinical outcomes , . Worth note, cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with an estimate of more than 18 million new diagnosed cases and 9.6 million cancer-related deaths occurred in 2018 .
With respect to mental health, global estimates showing that COVID-19 will cause a catastrophe due to collateral psychological damage such as quarantine, lockdowns, unemployment, economic collapse, social isolation, violence and suicides , , . Chronic stress along with hypoxic and hypercapnic conditions knocks the body out of balance, and can cause headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, muscle tension, mood disturbances, insomnia and accelerated aging , , , , . This state suppressing the immune system to protect the body from viruses and bacteria, decreasing cognitive function, promoting the developing and exacerbating the major health issues including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer disease, rising anxiety and depression states, causes social isolation and loneliness and increasing the risk for prematurely mortality , , , , .
The existing scientific evidences challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize prosper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Baruch Vainshelboim: Conceptualization, Data curation, Writing – original draft.
Declaration of Competing Interest
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
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Big Tech doesn’t want you to follow the science. They simply want you to follow the narrative. As Steve Cortes learned, no highly credible source is above the ugly censorship rules set by Silicon Valley tyrants.
According to Christianity Today, 85% of churches are dying. That statistic was given before COVID. Imagine after COVID! We won’t know the full impact of this season for some time but we can see it unfolding before our eyes.
I’ve said it before, “I LOVE THE LOCAL CHURCH.” Yes, all of them (that preach the Word of God). It takes many kinds of churches to reach many kinds of people!
Unfortunately, many churches continue to remain closed or hold services outside or not at all. And frankly, according to national surveys many churches will simply not reopen whenever they may be “allowed” to.
I was talking to a pastor friend of mine (whom I had encouraged to open when we did in June) who, 14 years ago, started his church. He shut down his church as Covid hit and has not reopened. During these past 9 months of closure, he’d been calling some members to see how they were doing and found out most of them have been going to churches that are OPEN! He has just made the difficult decision to close down his church permanently. This is a very common story across the spectrum of churches in the United States.
One thing we know God hasn’t said is, “Church, sit back, relax, wait for this Covid thing to pass, don’t worry about my mandate to meet together, (Hebrews 10:25) just wait until your Governor says it’s OK to meet again. People can go to Hell while you wait for permission to obey my instructions.” So how can the church actually grow during this season? We have to remember the power of an hour together on Sunday!
During these unprecedented times, we need to be MORE loving! We need to be MORE courageous as Churches. Learning to love and accept people where they are is how we will grow Christ’s church. People need hope. And, let me tell you, people are looking for churches who will follow God over Government. We cannot forget the power of an hour together on Sunday!
During this Covid season, 199 people have taken the step of outward obedience to Christ and have been baptized at Skyline Church.
While I continue to receive hate mail, phone calls, and text messages from pastors and their staff whose churches are closed or meeting minimally, I can tell you, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s sad, but when lives are being changed during a season like this, keep the hate mail and calls and texts coming. It’s only affirmation that they may be feeling a sense of conviction from the Lord and perhaps they’ve forgotten the power of an hour together on Sunday.
They’re not going to get me to do what they’re doing, which is, in my opinion essentially hiding. I want them to open fully and do what we’re doing because, as I’ve said before , we all benefit when all churches are open. The kingdom grows when we’re all in it together.
One pastor told me, “We’re watching you guys, letting you take the hits from the county, you’re the tip of the spear we want to see what happens to you.” Well, bro, we’ve been fully open for six months and I can tell you that what is happening is lives are being changed.
People need their church to be fully open! Suicides and mental health issues continue to rise. We need to help people. An open church helps people. An online or even outdoor service has minimal to NO effect. I’m not saying if you’re having outdoor services that it’s useless, it’s just not helping as much as some churches may think. It’s a constant reminder to people that things are crazy. People need a sense of calm and even an hour to escape. When they sit outdoors week after week, it’s a reminder of how depressing things are. And this weekend there’s a 90% chance of rain in San Diego. What are you going to do, shut down the church because of rain? Don’t underestimate the power of an hour together on Sunday. Go ALL IN.
People need some sense of normalcy even if it’s just an hour on Sunday INSIDE their church building. The church should be leading, especially in these moments.
While some churches sit back and wait for their marching orders from “NebuchaNewsome,” we will continue to storm the gates of Hell! THAT gets me fired up! Think about it. Every single one of those 199 people who were baptized experienced Jesus and made a decision not only follow Him, but to announce it when they weren’t supposed to according to the Governor!
Along with that, we’ve had 1,337 decisions for Christ and Commitments to join the church! All during a time when we should be shut down due to a supposed virus that has a survival rate of 99.998%! Are you picking up what I’m putting down? The flu kills more people year in and year out. You’re more likely to die from a lightening strike than Covid. I could go on and on.
Every one of those people who made a decision for Christ has a story that matters to God. We say it all the time, “Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God.”
We want them to know that their story matters to us too. And as a church we want to love people BEFORE they make a decision for Christ. Just like you and I, newcomers are NOT perfect. They have fears and concerns and hang ups and habits and need the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. When churches are open, they are more likely to receive this love and power. Don’t underestimate the power of an hour together on Sunday!
I can’t imagine missing out on these life-change stories had we listened to the Governmental mandates to not hold services. If you’re a church leader who happens to be reading this, don’t you see how this is the devil’s perfect plan? To have you not hold services, not impact people, not have salvations and baptisms, not give the Word of God in the House of God?
Remember, Scripture tells us that we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes. He’s always operated with the same game plan. Page one of his playbook has always been to divide and conquer, isolate people, give them a sense of hopelessness, make them feel lonely and depressed, then he can really go to work. Think about it, if he can get the church to stay closed, his job is so much easier. And, just look at the statistics, he is really going to work on people.
When we get to Heaven, I’m convinced God is not going to say, “Did you obey your Governor during the 9+ month lockdown while people committed suicide and fell into relapse of drug and alcohol abuse?” Or might He say, “Did you have the courage to continue to follow me and focus on reaching the lost, helping the hurting, and giving people hope during a hopeless time?”
It has always taken courage to be a pastor, but perhaps never more than in these days and times. Don’t underestimate the power of an hour together on Sunday.
As we hear about churches shutting down, remaining closed, and struggling to survive during this time of COVID, we grieve the continued lack of understanding of the importance of being FULLY open as a church, regardless of what the Governor might say.
There are a couple of things that are certain. Churches will not grow if they remain closed during Covid. But, churches may indeed experience growth if they decide to walk in obedience and courage and be fully open. Don’t underestimate the power of an hour together on Sunday!
As Bible believing Christians, we believe in the importance of voting. We knooow politics-everyone-off. But the 2020 elections are quickly approaching, and as a pastor, my goal is to make sure you have the information you need to make the most informed decision you can. As Christians we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend this is a taboo topic and ignore our responsibilities.
Skyline Church will be providing resources for those who are looking for clarity and biblical understanding of the candidates and issues during this time. To be clear, I am not looking to create division. I recognize that every political party is likely represented in God’s church all over the nation. No matter what party you identify with, we can pray for our leaders and the 2020 election. We may not have unity across our nation on a variety of topics, but surely we can have unity and agreement when it comes to the biblical mandate to pray for our political leaders.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 says
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. 2 Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. 3 This is the way our Savior God wants us to live” (Mes).
Notice, it says to pray “especially” for rulers and their governments… Today, I want to encourage you and lead you in some prayers as we prepare our hearts and minds to confidently vote. When Jesus said to pray…even for our enemies…(Matthew 5:44) He didn’t say it would be easy, but, as Christians, it is required. You may be on the opposite end of the issue from a candidate, you may not vote for them, but you can pray for them. Would you say these prayers along with me.
God, Thank you for your Word that guides us in how to live. We praise You for this resource as it reminds us in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for our governmental leaders, those in authority, and those who carry the weight of high responsibility. Your Word also gives us peace of mind to know that You are in control. We can be still and know that You are God, You are exalted among the nations and in the earth. We delight ourselves in You and have many things to be grateful for in this trying season. Most importantly, we thank You for Your Son Jesus, who paid (in full) for our sins so that we may be reunited with You.
[Take a few minutes to specifically express things you’re are thankful for.]
God, We ask you to have mercy on us, forgive your people, and cleanse us from sinfulness. Help us to forgive each other, and pray for one another.
[Take a few minutes to ask God to specifically forgive your actions, the actions of others, and political actions you believe violate God’s will for His people.]
God, We pray that You would bless, guide, and protect voters, government leaders, first responders, news/media outlets, and those with strong influence in our nation.
Bless them with divine wisdom as they navigate the hurdles you know are ahead.
Give these people discernment to know when to go against the tide, courage to stand for Your principles, and integrity to lead Your people well. Be their Rock when others rise against them and grant them protection against what they cannot see.
We pray that You would lead us to vote for the right candidates. You already know the outcome of this election. You are our refuge and fortress and we trust in You. We pray that whoever is elected, that they would, among other things … Fight for the freedom and rights of Your people. Fight for the unborn. Fight for religious freedom. And unselfishly fight for our City, State, and Nation. We pray that our faith would grow exponentially during this season. Allow our depth and understanding of Your love towards us to grow each day. In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Stayed tuned at SkylineChurch.org for more resources on how we can vote with our faith in mind.
As a spiritual shepherd, I’m relentlessly dedicated to sharing God’s truth with you. At Skyline Church, I am teaching a series called Time Out, that speaks to the relevance of the book of Revelation. I’m sensitive to those who are checking out church for the first time, however this is a topic that you’re not going to hear in churches very often. When you tie this sermon series into what it going on in 2020, we can see how important the book of Revelation is, especially as we educate ourselves in preparation to vote.
I want to invite you to come to Skyline Church in person at any of our three campuses, or to watch this series online. Share it with friends and family. And stay tuned for more resources in the next few weeks. Stay in God’s Word and stay in prayer. God bless.