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Question and Answer

Caring for the Pastor

Question:

I currently attend a church where around 60% of our membership are college students. As you can see, we are a very young congregation. My pastor is the sole teaching elder with no ruling elders. I am just a member who prays daily for him and his ministry, but feel as if I can do more. I just don't know exactly how to go about it.

I read the article Taking Care of Your Pastor in Ordained Servant. Can you give me some counsel and practical advice for a member to initiate a more deliberate way in which to care for and love our pastor in his immense responsibilities as the sole elder in the size and nature of our church plant?

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Is your church still in the unorganized state? Is that why you don't have ruling elders? The article in Ordained Servant was directed to ruling elders. But that doesn't mean that because you are not an elder there's nothing you can do to ease the heavy load he carries.

The things I suggested at the end of that article would have to be officially established—elders caring for pastors. It would not be proper for you to try to set up some organized oversight or care. So I suggest these things:

Ask him if there are any tasks you can do that will free him from tasks that do not involve his ministerial qualifications. Leave it to him to decide what you could best do to be of real help. Does he have anyone who can type up the bulletins? Does he have someone to run the public address system in your worship services? (Probably he does, but that is a job for someone to do). How about taking care of recording his sermons and making copies for taking to shut-ins? Those are a few suggestions.

The greatest help one can give his pastor is to support him in prayer (which is what I'm sure you do already). But you might volunteer to pray for things he is concerned about. And if he takes you into his confidence and asks you to pray for some particular need or difficulty, tell it to the Lord. Don't tell it to anyone else. As you become a prayer warrior, he may begin to confide in you. But don't "share" such things with anyone but the Lord!

I gather that this matter is something deep in you. Be careful not to force yourself on him, but make your desire known to him and let him respond as he thinks best.

Tell him when you've been blessed by his preaching. I know of congregations that are quick to criticize their pastors, but would never be caught dead telling him that they appreciate his messages. If something in the sermon strikes you as a great help to your soul, tell him specifically what gave your heart a lift. But be careful; don't overdo it! Avoid what we called it while we were young—being "apple polishers." You do these things to encourage him, not to make him feel good.

Of course you may be of use in the congregation. Have you ever gotten a group of students together to discuss his sermons? If you take notes or can get taped copies of his sermons, you could get two or three or more young people together, with open Bibles, and discuss the sermon, not to criticize but to dig deeper. Serious questions may come out of your study that you can take to him for answers.

Of course such would not be officially a part of the church's calendar. And, if you get something like that going, let him know about it. He may have some suggestions. But the youthful age of your congregation may be able to use this sort of thing. If they are mostly students, they won't be with you for long. Pray and do what you can to see to it that they go away stronger Christians than they were when they came.

One more thing: Do you have gifts that you believe can be useful to your church? Pray that you may do whatever you are asked to do thoroughly and cheerfully. The following is not new with me, but I think it is a good thing always to remember: Do not try to make room for your gifts, but let your gifts make room for you.

So do whatever you do well, and do it for the Lord. If people notice, thank them, but if they take it for granted and you do it well, remember, you are ultimately serving Christ, not people. And in your heart you know that the job was done well and that you will get your reward in heaven when He will say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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