When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.– Exodus 17:12 (NIV)
There’s an old poem by John Donne, a famous Protestant preacher and pastor, as well as poet, which begins, “No man is an island entire of itself…” This saying could not be more true – especially when it comes to ministry. Throughout the Bible, we see many examples of spiritual leaders being made stronger by those with who they surrounded themselves: Moses had Aaron, Paul had Timothy, even Jesus had His disciples. A pastor with a strong support network around him is bound to be more effective than one who lacks that network.
In a recent global study (ICM, 2013) commissioned by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church and conducted by Roger Dudley and Petr Činčala, 4,260 Adventist pastors from all around the world were asked about many of their views on ministry. One area specifically researched was how pastors feel about the support they get from their congregation.
Eighty-three percent of pastors indicated that they “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that they feel supported by their congregation(s). One in ten respondents (10%) admitted that they are uncertain on the topic, while only 8% indicated that they “somewhat” or “strongly disagree.”
When asked if they feel supported by their conference and union leaders, nearly three out of four (73%) of pastors “strongly” or “somewhat agreed” that they do, indeed, feel supported. Fourteen percent of respondents were unsure of if they feel supported, while another 14% indicated that they “somewhat” or “strongly disagree” about feeling supported.
Pastors were also asked about the number of churches to which they are assigned. Almost three fourths of respondents (73%) indicated that they pastor several churches. Nearly one in five (18%) indicated that they pastor only one church. A small percentage (6%) specified that they were the senior pastor in one church with other pastors, while another nearly 4% shared that they are associate pastors in a multi-pastor church.
It is encouraging to see that even though a majority of pastors are ministering to multiple congregations, they still feel uplifted and supported by church members. This not only enables pastors to be more effective in their ministry, but gives them a better chance of personal happiness in their time away from the church building, as well.
However, what if your pastor is struggling and needs to be uplifted? Should members wait around for “someone else” to jump in to fill the need? Of course not! One of our past blogs covered ways in which you can minister to your pastor and his family.
Conference and union leadership also has a responsibility to make sure that local pastors are feeling supported. Offering help in difficult situations, listening to the issues at hand and offering possible solutions, and celebrating victories within the church are some great places to start!
We were made to live and grow in community, and pastors are no different when it comes to that. It’s time that each of us willingly “grab a hand,” so to speak, and work alongside our local pastors to further the Kingdom’s reach!
You can find the entire report here.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.