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Pharos Journal of Theology ; 102(Special Issue 2), 2021.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1675687

ABSTRACT

This paper examines how pastors engaged an online presence to preach the Word of God and address the needs of their congregations, during the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in South Africa. This is set against the Biblical instruction of Jesus Christ to Peter, to “feed my sheep” in John 21: 17, as it is the very same instruction that holds for pastors in churches today. However, the normal operations of the ministry have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Christian church, a close-knit group of believers to whom social and physical distancing are foreign concepts, has had to adapt. Worship sites have been abandoned, and the absence of worshipers has become the norm. Pastoral ministries have been disrupted and call for pastors to embrace new technology to ensure that they have a digital presence with their congregation through social media. This paper argues that these circumstances give the church of God a unique opportunity to rethink how to continue ministry without physical contact. It adopted a mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) approach, using an online questionnaire and telephonic surveys to engage pastors. The paper utilises the Two-way Communication Model (TCM) and the Uses and Gratification Theory (UGT). It concluded that pastoral care and spiritual counselling are essential in crises, that pastors have embraced social media in their mission, and that there is support for digital technology. The article recommendations that there should be a balanced communication strategy for Pastor’s ministries, and that government partners with faith-based organisations in different ways in a joint effort to combat the virus, while encouraging and supporting congregants © 2021 Open Access

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