A Word from Walker
I know of no time during my life when pastors have been put under more pressure than they have experienced over the last six months. Here are just three big reasons I have been hearing of why this is occurring:
- The impossibility of having a response to the COVID-19 crisis that will satisfy everyone in their congregation.
- The constant rancor on Social Media over masks, race and presidential politics.
- The ongoing trickle of revelations of marriages that are on the rocks.
Pastoring in the best of circumstances is a mysterious fusion of burden and blessing. Pastoring in days like these seems as hard as mixing up a cake batter while log-rolling down Niagara Falls. Who is sufficient for these things? I guess in a way we could say no one.
Along these same lines Tom Rainer in his blog Church Answers dated August 31st reflected on the sobering fact that the majority of the pastors they are talking with are considering resigning. He lists the following six reasons for this sobering reality:
- Pastors are weary from the pandemic like everyone else.
- Pastors are greatly discouraged about the fighting taking place among church members about the post-quarantine church.
- Pastors are discouraged about losing members and attendance.
- Pastors don’t know if their churches will be able to support ministries financially in the future.
- Criticisms against pastors have increased significantly.
- The workload for pastors has increased greatly.
When you begin to look at all the factors that contribute to ministerial flame-out and burn-out, it is no wonder why so many want to check-out. What is the remedy? What can we do to not only get back to a place of stability but also have pastors that are not bitter, burned-out and wanting to bow-out?
First, we need to take care of the people who take care of us. This is why at the PMBA we offer up to five free counseling sessions for ministers and their family members at The Barnabas Center, a Christian counseling organization. In my opinion churches should match this kind of help. Even when a church can’t pay their minister as much as they would like, they could provide services like this or give them more paid leave.
Second, pastors need to move from a success to a faithfulness model of ministry. Too often, we solely measure how well a church is doing by budgets, buildings, baptisms, etc. While there is room to some degree to use these in a partial way to determine an aspect of church health, it can become a superficial measuring stick that beats pastors over the head when their church doesn’t meet unrealistic expectations. Pastors need to put their egos and their people-pleasing tendencies aside. They also need to embrace other metrics like faithful preaching of the gospel; percentage of members involved in making disciples; number of folks engaging in helping the poor; and the degree of unity in the church as other factors that can reflect the marks of a healthy congregation.
If you are a pastor, please know that we love you and are here for you. Take advantage of the services we provide so that you can not only survive these tumultuous days but even grow and develop. If you are a church member quit being petty and foolish. No one is going to be converted to your point of view, especially if it is fueled by heat more than light. Then, please pray for, encourage and even find creative ways to support your pastor. They need it now more than ever. If we don’t do these things, we will see even tougher days ahead for our churches. I have been and promise to keep lifting you up in prayer.
Your fellow servant in Christ,