I peruse my newsfeed every morning. I find news about the election, details about COVID advances, wildfires in the west. But recently, a series of articles caught my attention. The articles issue warnings about pastors quitting ministry. I haven’t posted or shared any of these articles on social media because I anticipate they will blow back with people saying (or just thinking) pastors are out there whining again. That might sound like a far-fetched, groundless expectation. I once received that rebuke after joking about the good, hard work of ministry. So I hesitate to post things that could draw the ire of the impatient and quick-tongued.
But these articles keep popping up, and it means the problem is growing and should be illuminated a little more. There are lots of churches and pastors experiencing significant struggles. I am sad to hear about pastors’ resolve being broken, sometimes leading to suicide. The burden some pastors are carrying are sorely underestimated for sure. It seems to me the two services which have the most people tempted to quit right now are police and pastors. Not a good combo for society.
Some pastors are pressing on faithfully, firm in the resolve of their calling. And some pastors are quitting in the wake of their broken resolve. And still others have a broken resolve, but are pressing on because they see no other way to support their families. Truly serious moment has come.
Below are links to a few articles warning us about the weakened state of pastoral ministry in many churches, due COVID challenges, politically divisive Christians, fair-weather sheep who abandon churches in search of greener grasses, and the impossibility of pleasing people, on top of the usual hard and good work of local church ministry.
Read these articles and then determine what action you should take, as a Christian, to support the Bride of Jesus in her hour of burden and weakness. If you’re a pastor, some of the articles will help you think wisely about the challenges you’re facing.
And hear this: if you read these articles and respond with Wha, wha, wha…toughen up and get over yourself…if you can’t stand the heat, get out of ministry, then you’re a small part (or probably a big part) of the problem.
But if your heart is knit together in love for churches and pastors, your ears will hear the alarm ringing. You’ll answer the bell by doing one or more of the following:
- Enter into a more diligent season of intercession for pastors and churches.
- Be an intentional voice of peace in your church, to quell gossip and division.
- Voice your support of pastors as they lead your church through rocky times.
- Undergird the ministries of your church by meeting needs in the lives of others.
- Ask for opportunities to serve the ministry needs of the church.
- Invite guests to join you at church on Sundays (if your church can accommodate them), then greet guests and invite them to lunch.
- Share the gospel and then let your pastors know how you’re staying on mission with them.
- Send a note of encouragement to your pastors, assuring them of your loyalty to Jesus, the church, and to them.
- Prioritize ministry opportunities over political allegiances.
- Don’t let anything (except a legit concern for physical health) keep you from joining the church when she gathers, on Sunday or during the week.
- Make sacrifices to be present in worship and the other gatherings of the church.
- Try to understand the serious challenges pastors have to lead the church during a multi-complicated time.
- When you hear others uncharitably criticizing the church or pastors, gently rebuke them.
- When gripes well up in your heart, remind yourself that you never have all the details.
- Curb and leverage your social media in ways that bring the body of Christ together, rather than drive the members apart.
- Greet guests who show up on the live stream. Welcome them. Take them to coffee.
- Be hospitable to people in the church you don’t know very well. Help them find their place among the strengthening force of the church.
- Remember there is no such thing as a divisive issue; only divisive people. Be an ambassador of unity and peace in your church.
- Make a charitable judgment between pastoral failures and pastoral clumsiness.
- Submit to their leadership decisions even if you think you know better.
- If you have serious concerns about the church, speak honestly with your pastor (not other people). And be charitable when you do it.
- If you feel you must tangle with the pastors, don’t do it on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Sunday morning ministry requires the pastors’ full attention. If you’re going to fight, then fight fair.
- If you move to a different church, be honest with your new pastors about where you’ve come from and why you’re there. They should know what to expect by having you at their church.
- Do all you can to be a fire extinguisher, not a fire starter. The church is dealing with enough fires as it is, some literal and some figurative.
- If your pastors ask you to meet to discuss concerns, respond humbly and make time in your schedule.
- Gently defend your pastors and your church when others speak ill.
- Worship from your heart on Sunday mornings, and find a reason to compliment the worship leaders on their ministry.
- Look for ways to bless other church members (take a meal, cut a lawn, bring coffee and encouraging conversation)
- Give generously to the church budget.
- Tell your pastors’ spouses they can count on you as a friend.
- Read each of the following articles, with a compassionate interest in what your pastor might be experiencing.
You can make a difference in this important hour for the Church and churches. This is a moment when true colors will show. You can be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands, to magnify God and our joy in Him, in your church.
You need your pastors and your pastors need you.