Posted on September 27, 2022 by Rev. Dave Gunderson, LMFT
Church Worker Wellness
As the pastor greeted people after the worship service, one little boy, Billy, handed the pastor a quarter. The pastor a bit puzzled asked him, “Do you want me to put this quarter in the offering?” The boy said, “No, that quarter is for you!” The pastor still puzzled asked, “For me. Why?” The boy replied, “Because my dad says, you are the poorest preacher we ever had.”
Obviously Billy didn’t understand his father’s statement, but the little guy had a heart of compassion for the “poor” preacher and wanted to help him as best as he could. Many church members are like that little guy. They have a big heart and want to help their pastor and other church workers, but they don’t always know how. Read on for 20 ways that you individually and your congregation can care for your pastor and other professional church workers.
Pray for them. Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” Romans 15:30
Invite your pastor/church worker out for coffee, lunch or dinner. At such times, make the conversation more than just talking about “work” items. Get to know the church worker’s interests, hobbies and family.
Attend Church faithfully, join a Bible study, and participate in events put on by these workers. These workers are God’s gift to the church to help God’s people grow in their faith through the study of God’s word.
Speak well of your pastor and church workers, and defend them when others wish to tear them down. While little Billy’s father had the freedom to speak his opinion about his pastor, others don’t need to spread that opinion. Instead, one can point out the pastor/church worker’s strengths and defend them. Most of all, one should avoid speaking anything that is harmful to the church worker’s reputation.
5. Create Experiences
Invite the church worker to enjoy experiences such as hunting, fishing, golfing, attending a concert or a movie, or some other activity that they might like to do.
6. Celebrate Events
Invite them to join you for special events like a super bowl party, 4th of July picnic, or maybe a New Year’s Eve party.
7. Recognize Milestones
Remember their birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones. This can be a simple card in the mail or stopping by and wishing them a “happy birthday”.
Help strengthen your pastor’s marriage by offering to care for his children so he and his wife can have a night out. Same with other church workers.
Be like Billy and support the church worker financially with your offering. Pick out a thoughtful gift for to give them on their birthday, and consider giving a monetary gift or gift card to them at Christmas.
When you have a disagreement or an issue with the church worker/pastor communicate directly to them. God’s word states, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:17) Instead of complaining about the pastor/church worker, church members need to take the time to visit with the worker about their concerns. This is especially true with pastors and church workers who are just beginning in the ministry. When speaking to a church worker, one needs to do it with humility and gentleness as St. Paul states, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4;1-3)
Another way for people to show they care for church workers, is to work together with other members in the church.
Pay your Pastor or church workers a proper salary to provide for their family. If possible, go above district guidelines. Make sure the health and other benefits you offer them will cover their needs.
If there is a parsonage, make sure it is in “tip top” condition. Ensure it provides privacy and safety for the pastor’s or church worker’s family. For example, if located on a busy road, consider fencing in the back yard so their children have a safe place to play. Consider installing a front doorbell camera for added safety so they can monitor visitors.
Give church workers a minimum of 3 Sundays off a year, plus 3 weeks of vacation to help them rest and refresh. Encourage them to enjoy time off with their family.
4. Manage Time
Encourage church workers to keep a log of duties and time it takes. This allows the worker to examine how their time is being used and opportunities to optimize their days and weeks.
Require the church worker to take time away from work to pause, reflect and rest. Pastors and church workers are no different than you or I. We all need time away to slow down and catch our breath.
Offer comp time when your pastor or church worker puts in extra hours such as during Advent or Lent season. This helps rebalance the work/life ratio.
Encourage your pastor or church worker to keep learning through continuing education by budgeting for this and providing time for worker to attend classes.
Offer a sabbatical after five years of ministry. This gives the pastor the opportunity to step away from his day-to-day responsibilities for an intentional “season” of rest in order to strengthen his spiritual life and renew himself for future service.
Recognize pastor and church workers years in ministry with a special gift or milestone celebration.
Create a Worker Support Team with lay members whose main job is to help the church worker examine areas of their life in order to help them be better servants in God’s church. This Worker Support Team would have the church workers’ back and best interests at heart.
To learn more ways of caring for your church workers, read Dr. Bruce Hartung’s book, “Holding Up the Prophet’s Hands”. This book gives additional guidance for congregations in caring for church workers.
Another source of help is Lutheran Family Service, a recognized service organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS). Should your pastor or church workers be facing some difficult times in their marriage or struggling with feelings of anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, Lutheran Family Service has a team of Master’s level trained and prepared, Christian counselors. Counseling is Christ-centered, safe and confidential.
In addition to church worker wellness counseling, Lutheran Family Service supports LCMS pastors in their counseling efforts to their congregation. If a pastor feels like the counseling needs are beyond his scope, Lutheran Family Service is happy to consult and help where needed. Pastors can also choose to refer members on to Lutheran Family Service knowing that we uphold the beliefs of the LCMS church.
Reach out today using our contact form here: https://lutheranfamilyservice.org/contact/
Rev. Dave Gunderson
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Lutheran Family Service
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