George Riddell: An Open Letter to My Fellow Pastors

I just knew that 2020 was going to be “the year.” I think you know what I am talking about, but then COVID started. When I heard about COVID-19, I was not sure what it all meant and did not give it much thought. As the days progressed, we started to get more information. There were confirmed cases in the United States, the New York/New Jersey area was the hot spot, and we had to self-quarantine. I heard all of this while sitting in a hotel room on the Mediterranean Sea. What does this mean for our church? Am I going to be able to get back home? What do I tell the people who are on this trip with me in order to calm their fears and give them a sense of security?

On March 17, we landed back in America, were questioned by the CDC, and headed home from the airport. During all of this, I found out that NJ was shut down. No one was to be on the road after 8 pm, and there were to be no public gatherings. I was in a totally new arena. Never have I had to lead in such an uncertain and trying time. Just like you, my staff and I quickly scrambled to do all that we could to get the word out to the church. The way church looked in the past is not what it was going to look like for the next eight weeks. Remember, eight weeks is all that it was supposed to be. We can do anything for eight weeks. So, we set up Zoom meetings for our small groups, videos for our kids’ program, and scheduled guest missionary speakers for Wednesday prayer meetings. This will be fine; it is only eight weeks.

We thought this would just be a sprint, but instead it has turned out to be a triathlon. Now, my mindset must change, but what do I do with all of these emotions, feelings, and questions? I know I can go to God, and I have. Sometimes, my humanity just wants to talk with another human about this. I want to talk with someone who is going through the same thing that I am going through. Do I have what it takes to get through this? What does getting through this even look like? How can we still reach people with the gospel? When can I get back to some type of normalcy? How many of the people who were coming to church before COVID-19 will come back when it’s over? I am more drained today than I was before this started. When can I have real fellowship with other brothers like me? I have had these and so many more questions and emotions.

That is why we are hosting Idea Day East. I need it! I need to hear other brothers and sisters sing praises to our God at the top of their lungs. I need to pray with fellow pastors. I need spiritual encouragement and support from you. This Idea Day is going to be the most unique Idea Day there has ever been, and I don’t know that there will ever be one like it again. I am sure that you are like me and can use some encouragement and support from brothers just like you. I look forward to seeing you at Idea Day East. Registration is limited, so please sign up.

I can’t wait! Guided by His grace,

Pastor George Riddell

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