How YOU Can Encourage Your Pastor(s)

[The following is an interview the National Pastor's Prayer Network conducted with me a number of years ago. Please know that when I talk about encouraging pastors, I'm NOT only referring to senior pastors—but youth pastors, children's pastors, worship pastors, etc. The various pictures below are of some pastors I love and know as friends.]

Bill, your website states, "While Cadre Missionaries will bring training to any size church, we also have a heart for the church with one pastor (and many volunteer leaders)." Why this particular emphasis?
Larger churches have an inequitable voice in America because in America bigger means successful. You can question that all you want, but that's the way it is. While we don't have an ax to grind with bigger churches simply because they are larger, we want to passionately champion what God is doing in the “regular” church. (I refuse to say "smaller" church—because it implies inferiority in our culture—and I don't believe they're inferior at all.) Since our mission focuses on helping churches train/disciple volunteers and students to do ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12, a.k.a. disciplemaking), we LOVE the regular church because they often already know that the key to effective ministry is training volunteers! Larger churches can hire staff. Good for them. But we honestly believe volunteers can do MINISTRY—real and significant ministry—lead people to Christ and disciple them—especially when they are TRAINED!

How was this a motivation to write 7 Biblical Ways God Wants YOU to Encourage Your Pastor?
We LOVE pastors! And quite frankly, we're sick and tired of seeing some of our best friends and colleagues get chewed up and spit out by sick churches. This doesn't happen at every church—but it does at many. The problem is compounded because if a pastor talks about encouraging pastors—it can be seen as self serving. So we said, "Hey—as disciplemaking missionaries with years of combined experience in the church—we're in a great place to bring up the biblical idea of encouraging pastors." So we purposely set out to address what the Bible says about the subject... and let the Bible lead us to address the sticky issues of money, gossip, etc.

The first challenge you give in the booklet is to pray for your pastor. Why is this presented first?
Paul tells us that "first of all" (1 Timothy 2:1) we should pray for our leaders—and that includes our spiritual leaders. And, to be honest, we don't believe that in the average church there is much prayer happening—let alone prayer for pastors. We've got lots of programs—and we like purposeful programs—but prayer is often missing or extremely weak.

Explain the purpose of the section of the booklet at the end that reads, My Covenant with God, One Another and Our Pastor.
It's one thing to read about encouraging pastors. That's education and information. But I don't believe that education and information are enough to produce life-change and disciplemaking. So we put the covenant in the booklet to challenge people to sign on the dotted line and seal the deal about being an encouragement to pastors. In one church, the elders signed the covenant—then gave the folks in the congregation a chance to participate—and then hung the signed covenant in the foyer as a reminder... and as an act of accountability to each other—to be an encouragement to their pastor.

How can a prayer leader mobilize others to pray for the pastor?
We need to regularly remember that pastors are PEOPLE... like you and me. If that doesn't get you praying—you're not in touch with your own humanity! We address the human side of pastoring in our booklet. But I think so many of us just don't get it—and some pastors foster this super-saint facade—so we're totally shocked when we find out that our pastor is just like us. Remembering that our pastor is human can help motivate us a ton when it comes to praying for him.

Some pastors are very private and will not seem to welcome the support of members. What can a church member do at that point?
Pray. And I think the bigger issue there is that some pastors have been conditioned—by past bad experiences—not to open their hearts to church people. I can't blame them. But I think all of us—especially leaders—are looking for a safe place and safe people with whom we can take our journey with Jesus. I would encourage you to be a safe person for your pastor—and not to give up if there is no reciprocation. It will take time to earn a pastor's trust. It may not be possible in some cases. But pray—and love them like crazy—whether or not they outwardly express appreciation for your encouragement.

Bill, please write a prayer that concerned Christians can pray for their pastor...
[Please pray this as you read it.] God, Help us to love our pastor(s) with extremely practical expressions of encouragement. Use ME to show the way. Help us to err on the over-generous side—with our words, finances, time, talents, and gifts. Give us a spirit of courage to keep others accountable to the biblical commands to encourage our pastor. Rebuke our hearts when we sin against our pastor through gossip—and give us repentant hearts. Prompt us every time we drive into the church parking lot to breathe a quick prayer for our pastor(s). Do whatever it takes to make our pastor(s) flourish in his relationship with you, his spouse, his family, our church, and our community.
in Jesus' name... amen

For complete information on the 28-page booklet, Seven Biblical Ways God Wants YOU to Encourage Your Pastor(s)—including a FREE six-page PDF sample excerpt AND a FREE copy of My Covenant with God, One Another, and Our Pastor, GO HERE.

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