Straight Talk to Church Members About Pastors

I know. Pastors aren’t perfect. But they do have one of the toughest jobs in the world. Regardless of the church polity, they do have to answer to every church member. Please allow me to speak to you who are church members. I know most of you love your pastor. I know most of you respect your pastor. But you may not know how you can best help your pastor.

Thom Rainer

I have served as a pastor of four churches, and I have consulted with hundreds of pastors. In many ways, I think I understand the heart of a pastor. So would you allow me to share with you how to demonstrate love to your pastor? I put them in the form of five things not to do, and five things to do.

What not to do

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. I’ve tried to streamline the list some.

1. Don’t criticize or make critical suggestions to the pastor unless you have spent much time in prayer over the matter. Pastors have to deal with criticisms every week. It drains them. Also, don’t criticize the pastor’s family.

2. Don’t ask the pastor to make announcements right before the worship service. He needs to be focused on his sermon. Similarly, don’t say other things to him that may distract him before he preaches.

3. Don’t tell your pastor how he compares to other pastors.

4. Don’t expect the pastor to be at all the church events and functions you think he should attend. Most of the other church members want him at “their” events as well.

5. Don’t expect the pastor to be the primary pastoral caregiver to all members, their relatives, their distant relatives, and the rest of the community within a 30-mile radius.

What to do

As I have talked with pastors around the world, they have shared with me some of the steps church members have taken that have really encouraged them. Let me share five of them.

1. Do pray for your pastor. Send him an e-mail to let him know you are praying for him.

2. Do encourage your pastor. He needs it because he’s human, and he needs it to balance the criticisms he hears.

3. Do work with the leadership of the church to make certain the pastor is getting sufficient rest, time off, and family time. Most pastors are on a 24/7 call.

4. Do encourage the rest of the church to take on pastoral care responsibility, particularly through small groups and Sunday School classes. The pastor should be the primary caregiver for the most urgent and serious of needs. The rest of the church should do the bulk of the ministry.

5. Do be faithful to the ministry of the church. Few things encourage a pastor as much as committed church members.

Remembering Frances Mason

The very first blog I wrote was about Frances Mason. She was one of those church members that every pastor loves. Upon her death, I noted several reasons why I loved her so dearly.

As I reflected back on Frances for this blog, I realized that she was the type of church member that embodied all the great characteristics that are noted in these 10 action items for this article. She prayed for me. She encouraged me. She looked after my welfare. She was a totally committed church member.

Many pastors are hurting. Sometimes I think most pastors are hurting. They are looking for answers to help their lives and leadership.

And the good news is that you can be a part of the solution.

– Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources.