Past events



A PW’s message for congregations by Marilyn J. Carlaw
A pastor's wife from McBride, B.C., shares her personal experience of how a congregation can warmly embrace and support their pastoral family.

Your pastor needs your encouragement

If you're like many congregation members, you're most likely satisfied with your church and your pastor. You probably enjoy the services, attend outreach or ministry events, and serve where you can. Overall, you like your church and you like your pastor. But have you ever told him that? Have you ever thought about what it may be like to be the pastor at your church?

Pastors can feel like "lone rangers" at times—especially those who are the only staff member in the church. A lot of responsibility is on their shoulders! A pastor's many tasks can include

  • leading the congregation in vision planning, budgeting and financial goals (including the difficult task of discussing his salary with others)
  • visiting congregation members in homes or hospitals
  • recruiting volunteers
  • praying with and counselling church members and non-members
  • leading Bible studies
  • planning outreach events
  • planning a church service and writing a sermon every week

Depending on the size of a church a pastor may also be responsible for paying the church utility bills, printing Sunday bulletins, stuffing mail slots, and doing maintenance on the church and yard.

Many pastors often have a wife and children that need their time, attention and love as well. Pastors also need time for rest, recreation and home projects – just as you do! Their work schedule includes Sundays, holidays and many weekday evenings. Yet they're often paid a low to average salary – sometimes without benefits and almost always without overtime hours!

Pastors are ordinary human beings, with limited energy, time and strength. They have down days and dry times in their faith walk, just as you and I do. Discouragement can come when a pastor faces unrealistic expectations or verbal criticism from the very people he is serving.

Barna research gives us these further insights into the average pastor's life:

  • 90% of pastors work more then 46 hours a week
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month

God knows about these demands on pastors and instructs us in his Word to honour them.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching: (1 Timothy 5:17).

And of course, as believers in the body of Christ, we are always called to love and serve others.

We trust you've gained a small window of insight into the life of pastors. Will you pray and ask God to show you a specific way to encourage and appreciate your pastor this week?

How can I support my pastor?

You know that you want to encourage your pastor. Maybe you feel that God has spoken to you and asked you to offer kindness to him or his family. But how exactly do you do this? You need to show him that his service does matter to you!

Here are plenty of ideas and tips to bring a smile to your pastor's face. Some ideas will not cost a penny, but will have priceless, long-term effects.

• Ask your pastor on Sunday how he is doing. Be genuine and sincere. What has he been working on lately? What has he been enjoying?

• Send him a thank you card. It may be a general thanks for all that he does or it can be for something specific you noticed.

• With his permission, start a prayer group that will commit to regularly praying for him. Ask him for specific prayer requests (and make sure you honour his trust and confidentiality with what he shares with you!).

• Consider hosting a Clergy Appreciation month. Download our Clergy Appreciation Planning Guide or contact Focus on the Family Canada at 1.800.661.9800 to learn more.

• Volunteer to help out at an event or in a ministry.

• Invite the pastor and his wife over to your house for lunch or dinner. Play board games afterward! He'll be encouraged by the time of rest and his wife will enjoy not having to cook. The time spent with other believers will be refreshing to both of them.

• Don't forget about the pastor's wife! She needs encouragement and love too. Send her cards, befriend her or ask her to go shopping or for a walk with you. She often feels alone and "different" from others in the congregation because she's married to the pastor.

• Bring him a meal. This could be a hot lunch during the week, or a supper for him and his family. It doesn't have to be fancy. For example, you could prepare a casserole, some buns, salad fixings and brownies. They will love your homemade gesture!

• Is his car in working order? If not, do you know how to fix it, or do you know a professional that could fix it at a discounted price?

• Ask him when his last day off was. Pastors don't get a Sabbath on the Sunday like you do. But they still need to take one on a different day of the week. Encourage him to be faithful in obeying God's command to honour the Sabbath.

• If your pastor has a regularly scheduled day off each week (as all pastors should), please respect his time off. Don't bother him with anything that can wait until the next day.

• Invite the pastor and his wife to go out with you and other couples. Keep in mind that they live on a budget! Fun ideas include: a picnic in the park, a bicycle ride, bowling, a drive to a nearby town for ice cream, renting roller blades or watching a video (with popcorn!).

• Suggest that the church sponsor the pastor and his wife to attend an annual pastors retreat or conference. Meeting and sharing with other pastors can be a time of great strengthening, spiritual refreshment and renewed passion for his ministry.

• When you benefit from a sermon – perhaps you are refreshed, enjoyed a laugh or understand a Bible passage in a new way – tell him or drop him a note! Be specific about how God has used his ministry in your life.

• Buy him a book of devotions or a book by his favourite Christian author or theologian. Consider a book devoted to pastors. Check out our resources for pastors on the Focus on the Family Canada online bookstore.

• Offer to do some yard work for him.

• Be forgiving when your pastor sins or struggles. He's just like you – human and sinful!

• Can you or a group of friends give him and his wife a night away at a Bed 'n Breakfast or a hotel? This is a practical way to support his marriage and to show love to his wife as well.

• Offer to provide free baby-sitting so he and his wife can enjoy some alone time together.

• For a special occasion, such as a wedding anniversary, offer to take their children for the weekend or two other nights. Even if the pastor can't afford to go away, the quiet time at home with his wife will be a blessing to their relationship.

• Give him a gift certificate to a place or store that he will enjoy. What are his hobbies? Consider gift certificates to a fishing supply store, a bookstore, his favourite coffee shop or a sporting event. You don't have to be rich! A gift certificate to a coffee shop or juice bar can cost as little as $5.

• If you have children's clothing or furniture – a crib, stroller, bed, etc. – in good condition that you aren't using, consider loaning it to the pastor's family. This will go a long way in cutting the costs of raising a family on a pastor's salary.

• Christmas season is often the busiest time of the church year for pastors and their families. Ask his wife if you can help her wrap gifts, share a baking day with her or watch her children while she shops.

• Does your pastor receive medical and health benefits as part of his salary? What about a housing allowance? Paid vacation? When was the last time he got a raise? Prayerfully discuss this with those on the church governing board. Finances (or lack thereof!) can be a huge strain on ministry families. Honour his work by paying him a reasonable salary! It is difficult for a pastor to ask his congregation for a raise or to let them know that he is having difficulty making ends meet. Take care of your pastor financially.

• Encourage other people in the congregation to show appreciation and love to him and his family.

• Remember the birthday of your pastor – and his wife and children. Send a card, balloons or a cupcake. Better yet, organize a party for him after church. Order a slab birthday cake, have congregation members write notes of appreciation to him and collect donations for a gift.

• How are you talented? What are you good at? Consider how you can share your gift with him. For example, you could serve through your gift of baking, sewing, mechanics or yard work.

• Ask God to give you specific guidance and direction of other ways that you can encourage and befriend your pastor.

Focus on the Family Canada wants to help you show appreciation for your pastor.

This Clergy Appreciation Planning Guide is designed to help you plan a Sunday that your pastor and his/her family will never forget. Click here to download the Clergy Appreciation Guide (PDF).

For resources to give your pastor, click here.

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