By Joe Conway
ALPHARETTA, Ga.— Imagine if pastors received the same support and accolades reserved for college football coaches. When was the last time you heard a university administration remind its alumni to pamper the head man who walks the Saturday afternoon sidelines?
While many churches encourage their pastors well—and some do an exemplary job—many pastors feel closer to last year’s fired head coach then the man with the post-game TV show.
Enter pastor appreciation month in October. Pastors need demonstrated love and support, perhaps as much as any other vocation. The stresses of accepting spiritual responsibility for congregations are well-documented in Scripture by Paul and today in countless surveys. Your pastor needs your support.
“Just as Moses needed an Aaron and Hur to lift his weary arms in battle (Exodus 17), so every pastor needs encouragement from his church to lift his arms in the spiritual battle facing the local church,” said Michael Lewis, executive director for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) pastoral care and development office. “Pastors, whose jobs are all about ‘giving out,’ are ‘wearing out.’ Pastors need affirmation and encouragement from their congregations. Serving as a local church pastor is filled with pressing demands.”
As a former pastor, Lewis understands those pressures. One question a church can ask itself is, “Shouldn’t our pastor have … ?” and fill in the blank with what church members take for granted or see their pastor truly needs. Take concrete steps to meet the need, which may include time off or a sabbatical, Lewis said.
NAMB president Kevin Ezell, who most recently pastored Highview Baptist Church in Louisville for 14 years prior to coming to NAMB, knows well the joys and demands of leading a church.
“It’s the greatest privilege in the world to pastor a congregation,” Ezell said. “But it is also very demanding and we need to take steps to protect, strengthen and express appreciation for our pastors.”
Lewis adds that appreciation for pastors is simply following the exhortations of 1 Thess. 5:12,13, and Gal. 6:6. Churches can find “Five simple steps to lift up God’s servant in your church” at http://www.namb.net/For_Lay_Leaders. Learn more about pastoral care and development at http://sendnetwork.com/pastoral-care-and-development.
As a way of encouraging more churches to participate in pastor appreciation month in October, NAMB is partnering with worship leaders Shane and Shane to provide a worship event for a selected church which best demonstrates the spirit of pastor appreciation. The recipient church will have the opportunity to host the free event as an additional thank-you for its pastor.
Church members can post photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LiftMyPastor showing how they lift their pastor with one of NAMB’s resources found at sendnetwork.com/pastors-appreciation. Posts should include details of why and how the church body chose to lift their pastor. Each social media post that uses the hashtag #LiftMyPastor will be entered for the chance to bring Shane and Shane to their church for a worship night. Visitfacebook.com/NAMB.SBC for details and more about entering your church’s example of pastor appreciation.
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.