3. Caring for Our Pastors, Other Church Workers, and Their Families
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Professional church workers sacrifice in their service to the church. Just as the members they serve, they, too, need to be cared for and spiritually well fed. The lay leadership has the privilege and opportunity to minister to the ministers, so they can remain healthy together.
This section summarizes some of the principles and provides discussion questions from Chapter 11 “Ministering to the Ministers” (Built on the Rock, pages 194-205).
To learn more about caring for professional church workers, see Bruce Hartung’s book Holding Up the Prophet’s Hand: Supporting Church Workers (Concordia Publishing House, 2011).
Read Philippians 4:14-19 and 2 Timothy 1:16-18. What kind of care did the Philippians and Onesiphorus show St. Paul?
Read Galatians 6:6-7, 1 Timothy 5:17-20, and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Considering these passages as well as the ones from the previous question, how should church members support their pastors and other professional church workers?
How can lay leaders serve their professional church workers and their families in the following areas (add response to each area to enable submit button):
Who currently provides pastoral care for our pastors and their families? Who should provide such care?
How can I make a “pastoral call” on my pastors or other professional church workers? On their spouses and children?
Read Colossians 3:15-17. Describe how God intends for us to provide accountability.
A called pastor or other professional church worker is not to be treated as a hireling for menial work. Instead, Scripture calls us “to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
Boards should develop a procedure for the annual evaluation of their key church worker or ministry staff person. The process should provide opportunity for input from the entire board, as well as from the worker. Larger boards will appoint a small committee to gather information and discuss the information with the worker. The process should be encouraging, reinforcing what is going well. For areas that could use improvement, the committee should discuss with the worker how to address those concerns. It is much more effective and healthful when the worker suggests ideas and develops goals for personal growth.
Lay leaders are responsible for providing encouragement and loving accountability for their called leaders and other professional church workers. One way to regularly accomplish this is through job descriptions and annual evaluations (check each box for recommendations for effective evaluations):
Remember the importance of confidentiality.
Distinguish between the evaluation of an “employee” vs. a “called” pastor or worker.
Reinforce all that is going well – tell your leader what you appreciate most about his/her work.
Seek one or two areas for improvement, and together establish goals.
Include areas for review in the worker’s own spiritual health, physical health, and family’s well-being.
Document your evaluations and decisions. Keep all notes in confidential location.
Review important goals throughout the year to monitor performance for accountability.
Who is providing evaluations for your pastor and other church workers? How do these evaluations compare with these recommendations? What next steps do you suggest for the lay leaders?