TEN WAYS YOU CAN HELP YOUR PASTOR
Week after week he stands in the pulpit, encouraging you and your fellow church members to live the Christian life. He ‘often
visits in your home. He performs weddings for your sons and daughters. He comes to your home or to the hospital when tragedy hits your family. He conducts funerals for your elderly relatives.
He’s your pastor, and these are some of the things he does for you and your family. But do you really know him? Do you know his needs? you know what you can do to help him?
This article is the result of a survey taken at a denomiational ministers conference. The pastors- who responded made the following suggestions on what you can do for your pastor.
1. Worship expectantly.
Come to church expectantly, ready to worship. The pastor puts a lot of time into preparing the worship service and message. When he sees people listening, worshipping and actively participating, he feels rewarded. In turn, he puts more effort into his preparations.
One pastor, speaking to a group of seminary students, said, “Most people don’t get anything out of worship because they don’t expect anything.” He described how many people come to church, waiting for the pastor to say or do something to warm their hearts. As a result, they usually leave the church building feeling as if they missed something. He explained why this is: “God is responsible for warming our hearts, not the pastor.” If we don’t put forth the effort to worship, we’ll leave having only gone through the emotions.
2. Be a disciple.
Determine to learn all you can about being a disciple of Christ, and put what you learn into practice. This means listening to the
pastor’s sermon, perhaps taking notes. Then make an effort to really do what you’ve learned. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22, NIV).
Don’t stop at listening to the pastor’s sermon. “As a pastor, nothing thrills me more than to see people growing in the Lord,” he
goes on to say, “Be hungry for the Word. Give attention to it in personal study first, and then come with a sense of expectancy to learn something new in worship or (group) Bible study.”
Other pastors suggest, “Comment on what is said. Make suggestions to the pastor. Take sermon notes and meditate on the message the following week, Let him know when a certain principle worked for you. The Bible is the Manufacturer’s handbook. If it is not applied, then the church will not grow. You get out of a sermon what you put into it.”
3. Get involved.
Get involved in church activities. Volunteer to serve. The pastors in our survey had a lot to say about this. A younger pastor
says, “Lack of participation frustrates me a lot not the fact that all members are not at all functions, but the fact that some members are not involved in any activities.”
Another young pastor says, “Christianity is not a spectator sport. We are all responsible and the congregation needs to accept
their responsibility to serve God.”
How would your pastor like you to serve? “Volunteer to do tasks that aren’t common pastoral duties, such as cleaning, doing bulletins, etc. Help someone in the church service who can’t hear or see well enough to find the right page for the hymn or responsive reading. Don’t let a stranger or an elderly person sit alone. Follow through on commitments. Be good neighbors to someone in need. Be willing to discover your areas of service.”
An experienced pastor sums it up well: “The congregation can help its pastor by sharing in those ministries which would release him for more significant and meaningful pastoral care, and using gifts to com-plement other members of the body.”
Pray for him daily. Every pastor surveyed felt this is extremely important. Many went on to say that those who are praying for the
pastor should tell him.
Here are the pastors’ comments; “Prayer for the pastor is of prime importance for the effectiveness of a pastor, and provides him
with the source of divine power so greatly needed. (It is) important for the pastor to pray for his people. These prayers should be given out of true concern and not out of a felling of obligation. Be aware of your pastor’s needs, so you can pray specifically. Pray with the pastor. Prayer for the pastor and his church is important and necessary. But what I like best is to be able to join with other Christians, especially those in my own church, in meaningful conversational style prayer, which praises Jesus and acknowledges our earnest need for Him.”
5. Don’t gossip.
Speak well of your pastor, especially to your impressionable children. You may not agree with everything he does, or you may not
even like him as a person. But his ministry will only be hampered, and perhaps destroyed by critical gossip among the church members.
A teenage girl listened to her mother complain about the pastor, until the girl believed what her mother said was true. At the church business meeting, when a vote on the pastor was taken, she voted “no,” remembering all her mother had said. The pastor received enough negative votes to consider resigning. As the girl reflected back on what the pastor had done since he had come, she realized how much her attitude toward the pastor had resulted from her mother’s opinion, and not from what the pastor had actually done. When the vote was taken again, she changed her vote to “yes.”
6. Be a friend.
Be a friend to your pastor. Pastors tend to feel lonely, maybe because the majority of people they know are their own church members. Do church members feel their pastor is somehow different, and wouldn’t fit in with their social activities? Or do they feel that other church members invite him to their activities and that he wouldn’t care to go to too many social events?
“The pastor needs friends like everyone else does,” says a pastor who had recently moved to a new church. Another pastor tells those things that give him joy and pleasure: “…(church members) visiting us in our home… welcoming us into their home … being friends … simply showing care by being interested in me personally. …loving and accepting my family for who they are…taking special interests in my children.”
Many pastors are cautious about making friends, to avoid jealousies between church members. Perhaps you need to let your pastor know, in subtle ways, that even though you want to be his friend, you don’t mind that he has other friends, too.
Even if you aren’t an especially close friend of the pastor, show that you care by inviting him and his family to do things with you and your family. Remember his birthday and anniversary. Be interested in his personal life. When he has to be away, take an interest in his family if they must stay at home.
7. Give him privacy.
Respect his privacy, and that of his family. The pastor wants to have friends. But he also needs some privacy. Be sensitive to the fact that the pastor has a family and needs to be with them and to have some privacy. Let him and his family be themselves, especially in their own home. It is important to help the pastor keep his priorities straight-wife, family and then the church. The parsonage should be viewed as his home, just as you view your homes as yours. But there are times when you need the pastor in a hurry. When a crisis arises, don’t worry about-the pastor’s privacy…
8. Call him.
Call him when you need him-when someone is ill or in the hospital; when someone dies; when you need counseling; whenever he can provide support and comfort.
Many times pastors are not aware of the physical needs in the congregation unless someone calls in and informs him, advises one
pastor. “Don’t take it for granted that he knows everything that goes on.”
The pastors expressed the desire to know about’ the needs in their church members’ lives. They depend not only on family members, but on friends and acquaintances of those in need to let him know.. ‘`I would rather have several persons phone -me about the same person who is ill,” says one pastor, “than to have no one let me know.” Another one says, “Parishioners should never assume that some-‘ one else has called.” According to another pastor,. “calling shows you really want the pastor to be available in times of crisis.” And this pastor expresses the attitude of most pastors: “It is the pastor’s responsibility and privilege to serve at these times.” One pastor puts it succinctly: “Please-he isn’t psychic!”
9. Don’t forget that he’s human.
Remember he’s human, just like the rest of us. This means two things: first, he isn’t perfect, and will make mistakes; and, second,
he has unique strengths., and weaknesses.
Several pastors said, “Don’t put him on a pedestal.” When we expect the pastor to be perfect, we will always be disappointed. But if we “don’t expect too much from him,” as one pastor said, we are able to accept his limitations.
Every pastor has certain strengths, as well as weaknesses. Allow the pastor to serve in areas he’s most gifted. Acknowledge his
limitations but don’t excuse. Be willing to fill in gaps with lay workers. Challenge the pastor (if necessary) to acknowledge his
limitations. Pastors have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. Let’s work together to capitalize on the strengths.
10. Remember his needs.
Make sure he gets needs met. The need of which most people think first is financial. The pastor does have a need for money, as do all of us. The Scriptures teach us that the local church has an obligation to support its pastor financially (see Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; I Corinthians 9:9-10; I Timothy 5:17:18).
But most of the pastors mentioned other needs: “Listen to the pastor. Be concerned for his own personal needs. Burn-out is a term very much in vogue today, and with good reason. Ther pastor must have time to think, to be alone, and to receive sometimes instead of giving. At least once a year they should ask if there are any parsonage repairs needs, rather than the pastor having to bring up the subject and wondering if anything will ever be done. Don’t expect him to be satisfied with your cast-offs. Be considerate of his tastes.”
When the pastors were asked to choose one thing that would best improve relations between members and pastor, the overwhelming response was “honest communication!” Though we’ve given several suggestions on how to help your pastor, the best way to know what he wants is to ask him. Undoubtedly, he’ll be glad to tell you!
From the editor
This article has been in my file for over ten years. The copy I have does not have the author’s name, the publication name, or the
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE APOSTOLIC SENTINEL, OCTOBER 2002, PAGES 5-8.
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