There are many ways to bless and appreciate our pastors, but nothing surpasses the impact of intercessory prayer. How then can we specifically pray for our pastors in light of this toxic year of politics, protests, and a pandemic?
I was recently asked to give a report on the current state of pastors in North America, which led me to search to find a pastor’s top five challenges. This list was a compilation of research and straw polls, and you will want to consider the unique context where your pastor serves. This list will give intercessors a starting point on how to pray for your pastor(s) this fall.
This initial COVID challenge was a somewhat inevitable result of sheltering in place quickly and indefinitely. Some are still dangerously isolated from some of those who keep them spiritually and emotionally healthy—family, friends, and peers.
- A third of adults are lonely at least some part of every day, and half of adults are lonely at least one day a week.
- While 80% of pastors work with a team of leaders, only a third of those experience frequent prayer together with that team. (Barna, 5/20)
I recently asked pastors on Facebook what their top needs were and got a generous response. By an overwhelming margin they said they needed wisdom and rest.
Pastors have been accused of being too cautious by some, and not cautious enough by others. Our decisions are sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and frequently second guessed. Pastoral ministry leaders like myself are a safe place for them to admit their feelings of inadequacy.
Younger pastors are experiencing a double shot of pastoral and parental peer pressure and thus need a triple shot of God’s wisdom.
Most church members do not see how hard their pastors are working because they have been less visible this year. Some presume they have actually dialed back, which is ridiculous since in reality their ministries have accelerated exponentially. COVID has simultaneously disrupted their ministry and family rhythms, which has left many of them in desperate need of rest.
Pastor Appreciation Month is always an excellent opportunity to bless—or even spoil—our pastors. Consider gifting your pastor with a weekend trip to somewhere off the field. If at all possible, encourage your pastor to take two Sundays off in a row.
Church members are not the only ones who are tired of pivoting and repivoting. These constant changes have depleted trust and eroded morale for everyone. This year we are seeing a surprising number of ministry meltdowns. In what appears to be pastor-panic, some are leaving their church or leaving the ministry altogether in a fog of frustration.
Since no one alive has experience pastoring through a pandemic, give your pastor an extra measure of grace and an extra dose of prayer.
In 2017, 66% of U.S. pastors indicated preaching was what they most enjoyed about ministry, yet currently only about half of their people are there in person to hear the message, which is discouraging our pastors. They are left to speculate whether the other half are watching online, visiting other churches, or checked-out altogether.
Barna recently asked pastors, “How encouraged are you feeling today?” Fifty-six percent were somewhat/very encouraged; 31% were somewhat/very discouraged; 13% neutral.
Thank you for being a friend to your pastor(s) during this crazy season. Instead of merely asking God to bail us out of this mess, let’s continue to ask Him to hold up our pastors until the COVID coast is clear.