The coming of a new pastor can be one of the most anticipated and exciting times in the life of a church. While the pastor is energized about his new ministry assignment, the congregation is eager to see how their new pastor and his family will fit into the life of the church. During this time of high expectation, church members are usually willing to do whatever they can to help him settle in and be successful. So how should a church care for their pastor and his family? Here are three suggestions
1. Accept your pastor and his family and love them for who they are.
Pastors are called to do just that – pastor or shepherd the flock of God, under the guidance of the Chief Shepherd of the Church, Jesus Christ. According to 1 Peter 5:1-4, your new pastor has not come to your church because he had to, but because he wanted to come. He did not come to get rich, but to serve. He did not come to be over your church, but to become a vital part of it. Caring for a church in this way is rewarding, but it is also very challenging.
Please remember that your pastor and his family are not perfect. We all have our own struggles and weakness, including your pastor and his family. So don’t put them on a pedestal but embrace them for who they are. Also remember that your pastor and his family are not performers. They need rest and relax just as much as everyone else. In the case of your pastor’s family, remember they are not paid. The pastor’s wife is not a buy-one-get-one-free staff member. She should be free to exercise her gifts and abilities in the church without the added pressure of filling some official role.
2. Support your pastor.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 teaches that a pastor who leads well and works hard at preaching and teaching God’s Word should be respected and supported by the church. Depending on the size and resources of your church, the cost of living in your community, and the size of his family, your pastor should be offered a salary, housing reimbursement, insurance, retirement, and ministry reimbursements. Instead of looking to get the “best deal for your money,” make every effort to provide for your pastor in the best way you can.
Financial support is good, but pastors also need spiritual and emotional support as well. Ask your pastor how you can pray for him and his family and commit to pray for them regularly. Look for ways to partner with him to build up the body of Christ according the model found in Ephesians 4:11-16. Encourage and enable him to take time off and time away from your church and community. A day off during the week and regular vacations will go a long way toward keeping your pastor and his family happy and healthy.
3. Let your pastor lead.
Leadership is inherent in the office and responsibilities of a pastor. Different pastors lead in different ways, but every pastor is a leader. Hebrews 13:17 warns churches against resisting the leadership of their pastor. Your pastor is accountable to God for his ministry in your church. But he must be allowed to exercise his unique talents, gifts, and abilities in leading your church.
Letting your pastor lead begins with trust. Trust is built on relationships, so look for ways to get to know your pastor and his family outside of organized church meetings. Be prayerful and open minded about any changes he may want to bring to your church. And be aware of the stress and strain his family may be under as they support him in his ministry.
The newness may fade on your pastor’s ministry, but the anticipation and excitement don’t have to. These are just three ways that you can care for your pastor and his family. Can you think of more ways to help your pastor have a long and fruitful ministry at your church?