1. Ask him what you can do to support or help this week and then keep on asking.
The skeptical nature we pastors tend to have, combined with the accumulated years of experience when people ask and do not follow through, means we will likely blow you off the first time you ask and say "Um, just pray for me." In truth, while this is important, you should pray for him anyway, EVERY WEEK! EVERY DAY! What he really needs is friends who sincerely seek to help him in his ministry task. Can you come by the office and join him in a hospital visit or a home visit? Can you make the hospital visit for him? Can you make some calls and organize a group he needs to gather — maybe a work crew or people for a specific meeting? Can you go pick up something for the church: groceries, paper goods, bookstore supplies that somehow ends up on his ever-growing to-do list? By the way when you first ask to help, he will likely not have a clue how you can help and you may need some smelling salts to revive him when he faints. But persistence will help him to understand your sincerity.
2. Find ways to care for and minister to his family.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your pastor is to befriend every member of his family. Do not assume the youth workers or children’s workers are doing this important task. Get to know them all, learn their likes and dislikes, and their needs. I think this is likely what Paul means by “double honor” in 1 Timothy 5:17. Honor his family. If his children are young, babysit for them. Give the pastor and his wife some "together time." Some days you could call and ask if you could pick up the kids from school or take them to ball practice. There were many times I had to go get my kids from school and get them to practices, work, or home and still had to make a hospital visit or meeting. Just someone to occasionally help with the crazy transportation can be a big bonus. If your kids go to the same school as his kids, it is even easier to assist him with transportation. Make sure each of the pastor's kids are well loved at the church. I believe it is vital to the health of the spiritual leader at your church and therefore vital to overall church health that the pastor's family is well loved by the church. Men of the church need to know the boys in the pastor's home. What sports do they like? What are their interests and hobbies? Can you help support them academically? Likewise the ladies of the church need to connect with the pastor's daughters. What are their interests and hobbies? Could you take them for a girls’ day out? If the children are older, it is still important that they are well loved and cared for by the church family. Help them through every stage of life. If you want your pastor to feel connected and lead well, and keep the church stable, support his family. He will never want to go.
3. Tell your pastor things you like about the church.
Good pastors love the local church. Their love for the church is very strong! So complimenting the church builds up the pastor’s hope and faith that God's work is going forth. Compliment the good things that are going on at your church. If you experience good friendships there, make it known to your pastor that it is a safe place to find friends. If you experience genuine love there, let him know. If you are growing in your understanding of who God is and who you are, praise the Lord and tell your pastor. If you are learning to serve others and not think so much about yourself, let him know. Most pastors do not need a personal compliment to drive them through a month, but complimenting the work of God he is leading, can go a long way to encouraging his heart. And remember, the pastor hears a lot, repeat... a lot of negative criticism. It goes with the work of the ministry and he knows that. But one of the healthiest things you can do for the whole church is to compliment the work of the Lord.
4. Be sure the leaders are monitoring his off-days and vacations.
Most every pastor I know is a true work-a-holic. "Hi, I'm Stan, and I am a work-a-holic." It's the truth. Most pastors cram 60-70 hours of church work into their week and give the leftovers to family. The pastor's "day off" is a mythological day, one which usually only happens in conjunction with the flu or, in my case, the shingles. Many churches are not good at watching out for the pastor's overly busy schedule. How many meetings in one week do you expect him to attend? Did he take a morning off if he attended a meeting that went late the night before? Does he have a regular time he can get away for personal refreshment? How does he recharge his batteries? If you are a deacon, elder or on a leadership team, be sure someone has the task of monitoring his work schedule. If you are not, read this section to a trusted lay leader at your church and ask him to help. This may save the leaders from dealing with a burned-out pastor. And, let’s be honest, who really wants to deal with a burned-out pastor?
5. Be sure his financial bases are covered.
This one is very sensitive, so tread lightly. Let a trusted friend who is the pastor's accountability partner keep you informed if the pastor has needs that he is not sharing. But, to the best of your ability, be sure that his needs are being covered to the point that he has security with your church family. Just checking the condition of the tires on his vehicle can send the message that he is valued. If they are in need of replacement, ask him if he has the necessary funds. If he does not have the funds, help by donating or find someone who can. What about his furniture? What is the condition of his couch at home? Does his mower work well? There’s nothing more stressful than not being able to start a mower in the intense heat of the summer! It’s enough to make a preacher….well, you get the idea! And what about those "vacations" he should take? Can he afford an occasional trip out of town with good restaurants and good hotels?
At 6.14 Ministries we are committed to helping church leaders and lay leaders serve one another well and serve the community. If your church could use some encouragement or help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our site at 614ministries.org for more information. If you leave a phone number, we will return your call or you can leave us an e-mail address. We want all church workers to be encouraged and to pursue the work God has called them to with diligence and enthusiasm. We would love to hear from you!