Part 3 of 4 – Read Part 1 first
What can we do to stem the tide?
–understand the nature of ministry
Ministry is like no other job on the face of the planet. Why? Because it’s not a job! It’s a vocation–a calling. God gives to the church gifts of men (Eph. 4.11ff). These people-gifts who hold offices in the body of Christ carry weights like no other vocation. Period.
What kinds of consideration and compensation should a person receive who:
- Is on call 24/7.
- Is the front line for personal tragedy
- Sees the worst and best of life. Has to bury a child in the morning and be joyful with the newlyweds in the afternoon.
- Has to study and prepare teaching and messages to equip God’s people
- Has to protect his family and flock from the spiritual attacks of a supernatural being set upon destroying and ravishing men, women, and children.
- Walk point against that enemy himself
One solution proposed by Focus on the Family is a congregation’s annual participation in Clergy Appreciation Month, and a habit of affirmation throughout the year.
Pasted from <http://www.parsonage.org/faq/A000000541.cfm>
We just came through annual Pastor Appreciation Month—October. What did you or your church do to demonstrate how much you value the life and love of your pastor(s)? Showing your love in a tangible way honors Christ and your pastoral leaders.
A sabbatical can be the missing link for your church and your pastor. God meant for us to rest from our labor. The sabbatical is not just for church leaders anymore, but it certainly should be practiced by our churches and leaders.
Many resources abound in our age of books, internet, and information. These suggestions may prove helpful:
- Simply Google “sabbatical” and see what you come up with.
- Assign someone from the church to thoroughly research what’s available. Beginning with this issue of The Witness, begin to read about how a sabbatical might just meet the needs of your church and leaders.
- Read some of the suggested materials found at the end of this article
- Go to the Maranatha Website/Blog and see what you can find there. We’re always adding sabbatical resources.
–a policy of refueling.
“Come Away: Jesus Calls His Sent Ones to Time Alone With Him.”
Even Jesus recognized this and retired often to places in the wilderness or to fishing with friends. He valued and modeled rest and solitude.
Churches can realize that pastors need time to refuel and replenish. Then develop a policy. Answer questions like:
- How often should we send our pastor on sabbatical? [some say every 5 years, others every 7]
- How long should a sabbatical be? [in most cases, 3-6 months is sufficient. Any may be time away, but is NOT a sabbatical]
- What resources will we contribute? What other resources are available?
- What are our plans for our pastoral staff as they near retirement age? What is that age to be in our church and culture? Is retirement mandatory at our church or is it indefinite? Are we willing to lighten the load of aging pastors rather than relegate them to an old age home (assuming they can afford one)
- What would honor Jesus in the way we honor our leadership?
–release pastors to fulfill Christ’s expectations, not ours.
The pastor is God’s called, anointed gift to equip the church. Forget this, and you can forget Kingdom effectiveness. You may have a thriving, huge church, but it has no authority or lasting Kingdom fruit unless Jesus has assigned the leaders. The pastor/elder is not an employee of an organization–easily replaceable by calling the seminary or bible college. Where would the church have gone to get a Paul or a Barnabus? What would the job description and pay have been? Who would have evaluated their ministries? Who would have presumed to give them their marching orders and told them what was expected of them? Ridiculous! Yet the church (as an organization) has lost its moorings and has the wrong-headed notion that the Pastor is the manager of the company.
Perhaps requiring pastors to fulfill our varied and often misinformed expectations instead of Christ’s is another reason so many churches are failing and closing across all denominations and among other associations.
Part 4 of 4 in a couple of days.
©2012, David C Alves All rights reserved.
First published by permission in The Witness, Winter 2012 by Advent Christian General Conference USA.