By Thom Rainer
It is a simple question.
What do you hear from your church members that gives you the greatest encouragement?
The responses from the pastors were amazingly similar. In fact, I was able to focus on ten specific areas. Here are summary statements of those areas.
- “I pray for you every day.” This statement was the most frequent. Read it carefully. It’s not just prayer; it’s daily prayer. The pastor understands ministry is spiritual warfare. The pastor understands prayer is one of the greatest weapons in the warfare.
- “I want to help your family any way I can.” Most pastors are stressed and stretched. So are their families. When a church member offers to support and help the family, the pastor feels like shouting for joy.
- “I want you to know specifically how God spoke to me through your sermon.” The key word here is “specifically.” It’s not a lot of encouragement if a church member says perfunctorily “good sermon.” Let the pastor know the specific meaning and application to you from the sermon.
- “I am ready and willing to take on that ministry task.” Pastors take great joy when a church member understands that ministry is to be done by the members, that the pastor is not the hired hand to do it all.
- “I see my role as an encourager.” Pastors need numbers of people who will take on the Barnabas role. The critics will always be there.
- “I see my role as one who will confront the bullies and the perpetual critics in the church.” I have heard from countless pastors that it’s not the critics who bother them as much as the “friends” who will not speak up and to the critics and church bullies.
- “I will make certain your family has an adequate income.” One of the great stressors on pastors is financial worry. It is such a relief and joy when a church member takes the role of financial advocate for the pastor.
- “I am available to babysit your kids.” Pastors with young kids relish a husband-wife date night. Many of them are unable to go out because they can’t find or afford babysitters.
- “I will be in church with no excuses unless providentially hindered.” Pastors hear plenty of excuses. It is a refreshing change for them to hear from a no-excuse church member.
- “I will never compare you to a previous pastor.” Yep, pastors cringe when they hear, “Pastor Bill used to do it this way.” Let your pastors know they have their own identity, and that previous pastors are not a scorecard against which they are measured.
I would love to hear from church members, church staff, and pastors how they could add to this list.
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This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August 8, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.