So often, the idea of the pastor-church relationship is presented entirely in terms of whether or not the pastor has the ability to minister well to the congregation. This is, of course, important, as the Scripture clearly teaches that pastors must be about the business of caring for souls.
However, the two churches I have had the pleasure of serving have taught me to appreciate something else. I love the way my churches have ministered to my family. I cannot recall how many times I have heard folks say, “I just don’t know what I would do without my church family,” in times of grief and sorrow or celebration. Pastors and their families are church members too! They need God’s people also. Gratefully, my wife and I have only been in situations where our churches loved us and cared for us as one of their own. Here are three ways we have seen that so far.
1. Love His Wife and Kids
To this day, our kids are loved on by our previous churches. Further, at our current church, the people could not be more loving toward our children. They are patient with my daughter through tantrums (she’s every minute of two, y’all), they babysit at our home, they man the nursery when our kids are the only ones at an event, and they have adopted them as if they are their own grandchildren. This is a huge blessing for pastors because, when they land at your church, more than likely they have landed in a totally new community. When moving to a new community, there is always an uneasiness concerning finding friendships and community. The Saturday before I preached in view of a call at FBC Gadsden, there was a Q and A time and luncheon with the church. The moment we walked into that room, a sweet couple took our daughter and loved her the rest of the time. Our fears were set at ease before I was ever even voted in: you’ve come home.
Furthermore, my churches have loved my wife. Both of the churches I have pastored have thrown her a baby shower. Any time she offers a ladies’ Bible study, it fills up fast. They help her carry stuff and kids into church 0n Sunday mornings. Any time I mention hosting something at our home, folks always ask, “You’ve talked to your wife about this, right?” My church loves my wife. This is a blessing to us because it constantly reminds us that, even while we have been called to serve Christ’s church, we are members too.
2. Pray for and Care For He and His Family
“Preacher, I pray for you twice a day, and every time I do, I pray that you put in as much at home as you do here,” the lady told me. I was amazed. It was such a blessing to have a church member who wanted to be sure that I was caring for my family.
Any time we have had a health crisis or death with a family member, our church has gone above and beyond to care for us. Recently, we lost Whitney’s grandmother. She had been sick for a long time, and God mercifully took her to be with Him. After her death, at church, I could not walk 5 feet without someone expressing condolences and prayer. Then, when I was standing in the funeral home and then at the funeral (30 minutes from Gadsden!), I was amazed by how many of our church members came to offer condolences. What a blessing to us.
Whenever we have a prayer request at our prayer meeting, people always follow up with us. They always pray for us and those we love. They care deeply. Make sure you are doing this for your pastor and his family. It means more than you know! They need to know that their church cares for them as much as they care for the church.
3. Be Their Friends
Oftentimes, many people find their deepest and most meaningful friendships in their church. As a pastor, this is very encouraging for me. However, it is not always easy for those in ministry to build friendships.
I am 28 and my wife is 27. We are living in the third area we have lived in during our 6-year marriage. We have built meaningful relationships over the years, and it is hard to leave your friends when the Lord calls you to a new place. This is an important time in the life of young couples because often they are forming lifelong friendships. This can be uniquely difficult for folks in ministry. I have heard of churches where they were so concerned about what their pastor could do for them they forgot to be his friend.
Further, there is a sense of distance many feel when they learn a family is in ministry. They are afraid to “say the wrong thing” or that people in ministry are not normal people. Your pastor and his family will feel that distance too, but for them it is not fear, but loneliness. Thankfully, we have had many in our ministry contexts who have sought to intentionally be our friends.
Are you doing that for the ministerial staff at your church? Are you blessing them by just being their friends? You cannot believe the feeling a pastor gets when a church member’s number pops up on the caller id and he is expecting to be needed when, in reality, someone just wants to hang out.
Let me encourage you to pray about ways for you and your church to do these things for your pastor, staff, and their families.
Are you a pastor? What’s another way your church has intentionally been the church to you? Are you a church member? What would you add to this?