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!
are plenty of ideas and tips to bring a smile to your pastor's face.
ideas will not cost a penny, but will have priceless,
your pastor on Sunday how he is doing. Be genuine
and sincere. What has he been working
on lately? What has he been enjoying?
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.
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!).
hosting a Clergy Appreciation month. Download our Clergy Appreciation Planning Guide or contact Focus
on the Family Canada at 1.800.661.9800 to
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!
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
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
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.
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.
to do some yard work for him.
• Be forgiving when your pastor sins or
struggles. He's just like you – human and
• 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.
to provide free baby-sitting so he and his wife
can enjoy some alone time together.
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.
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
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
other people in the congregation to show
appreciation and love to him and his
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.
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
God to give you specific guidance and direction
of other ways that you can encourage
and befriend your pastor.