Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

7 Helpful Things a Congregation Can Do for Their Minister

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Believe it or not ministers need help. They need help from their church leaders and they need help from members. I know ministers often get accused of only working one day a week, but in reality they are on call all the time. If someone gets sick or if someone dies often the first person that is called is the minister. I have received calls on holidays, while on vacation, and in the middle of the night. Ministers also have a hard time of leaving their work at the office. Saturday is my day off, but I cannot remember the last Saturday that I refrained from working on my sermon for Sunday morning. There is always something for the minister to do and this is why he needs your help. Whether you are an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or member there are ways you can help your minister. Here are 7 helpful things a congregation can do for their minister.

Go Visiting Together – Part of the ministers job is to visit members of the congregation, visitors who have attended a service, and others in town who might just need a visit. Ask the minister if he would like to go visiting with you. I always enjoy when members ask me this, and I never turn them down unless I have an appointment or a deadline to meet. Some members may think they are burdening the minister by asking this, but this is not so. An invitation to get out of the office and go visiting is a welcome request.

Become Friends – Ministry can be a lonely thing. When a minister and his family moves to town they often do not know anyone. Church members are usually very friendly but sometimes they are reluctant about becoming friends with the minister. There are probably all kinds of reasons for this. Members may think the minister has enough friends, or that the minister is “holier than thou” and does not like the things ordinary people like. These assumptions are false. Ministers are often lonely, and minsters are human just like everyone else. Reach out to your minister and his family and become friends.

Respect the Minister’s Time – Ministers love to go grab coffee and visit, but they also need time to do their work. Sermons do not magically appear out of thin air. They often take many hours of study and preparation. If you know a minister is studying, do not bother him unless it is an emergency. If you just happen to drop by the office ask the minister if he is busy before you grab a seat. If you appreciate good sermons, then give the minister enough time to prepare a good sermon.

Put Someone in Charge of Benevolence – There have been times in my ministry where I have struggled to get all of my work done because I was busy answering calls, meeting people at the gas station, or going to the grocery store to pick up food. I was so thankful when I moved to La Grange to have an elder in the building who handled many of these calls. Churches have an obligation to help needy people within their community, but this work can sometimes be overwhelming for a minister to handle alone. Appoint an elder, deacon, or member to handle the bulk of the benevolence requests you get. The minister will thank you for this.

Offer Suggestions – Most ministers appreciate heartfelt and meaningful suggestions. Ministers do not like to get a list of suggestions every week, but they enjoy sincere suggestions from the congregation. I love when a member of the congregation comes to me with an idea for a class or a youth activity. I want to teach classes that are relevant to people in the pew. I want to teach lessons that people find helpful. Some of the best ideas I have received in ministry have been from church members. If you think you have a great idea, don’t keep it to yourself.

Don’t Confine the Minister to an Office – I think office hours are great, but don’t expect the minister to spend 40 hours a week in his office. Allow him some flexibility. Allow him to hold office hours at the local coffee shop or somewhere else. This puts the minister in the community which is better than having him confined to an office. He is able to meet people he would otherwise not get to meet. I have also found that changing settings benefits my work. It helps get the creative juices flowing. It is also beneficial to craft sermons for people while you are setting among people. Sometimes I need the peace and quiet of the office, but sometimes I need to hear the chatter of human beings while I carefully choose the words to speak on Sunday morning.

Help Prevent Burnout – When a minister is expected to prepare two sermons, two classes, a bulletin article, make visits, etc. all in a week it is easy to experience burnout. Help the minister by trying to lighten his load. If there is more than one minister on staff, then have them preach once or twice a month. If you are a small congregation, then see if any of the members would like to give a lesson. Preparing several sermons and classes a week can be very taxing on the mind. Often when a minister’s load is lightened his sermons and lessons improve. Ministers also need to be fed. Make sure your minister is able to attend seminars and lectures throughout the year. Helping prevent burnout will insure you have your minister around for a long time.

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