Did you know that:

  • research shows pastors are typically use 65 distinct skills, forms of knowledge and character traits in their ministry?
  • on any given day, pastors shift their focus from doing sermon research with the biblical text to crisis counseling; from troubleshooting technology to recruiting lay leaders; from resolving relational disputes to leading board meetings?
  • the most significant relationship for pastors’ well-being is with their own congregations?
  • a thriving church requires a thriving pastor?

Clergy care researcher Dr. Matt Bloom of Notre Dame University helps people learn that clergy live and work in an ecosystem of relationships that requires support-receiving instead of self-care alone. E&CD partners with Bloom’s national study of clergy well-being, “Flourishing in Ministry.”

“Caregivers also need to be care receivers,” Bloom states in Never Alone (see full article: NEVER ALONE). “Clergy need to be cared for, especially during challenging and difficult times. Congregational support is essential. In fact, of all the relationships we have studied, a pastor’s relationship with his or her local church is the one that has the greatest impact across dimensions of well-being.”

Like all people, pastors need to experience the loving support of those they serve in order to thrive. But it is typically very difficult for pastors to ask for help due to their public role and cultural expectations that they be there for others. However, if pastors do not sense the support of their local congregation, clergy will likely experience a downturn in their sense of well-being.

Bloom writes, “Pastors who do not experience at least a minimal level of respect, care, concern, and compassion from at least some members of the congregation face severe challenges to their well-being . . . Let me emphasize this point: most pastors will not flourish unless they experience these minimum requirements for flourishing.”

One of the best things a congregation can do for a pastor is to be proactive in showing caring concern before a crisis descends. A great example was seen last year in the actions taken by City Life Church on behalf of their co-pastors, Adam and Christy Lipscomb.

Knowing the necessity of rest for healthy ministry, City Life’s local board of administration recommended the Lipscombs take an 11-week sabbatical—one week for every year of their ministry.

“The board recommended we take a sabbatical not because they thought we were burnt out, but because they saw it as a necessity of regeneration,” says Pastor Adam. “We were very grateful to have people of authority in our life give us the opportunity for a sabbatical, and we gladly accepted the offer.”

It is, however, in the day-to-day, week-in/week-out sense of being cared for that will ultimately bolster a pastor’s sense of well-being. Consider your pastor and your congregation. Both must be healthy to thrive.

What can you do today to show your pastor that you care?

Education & Clergy Development strives to develop resources and guidance for pastors and local congregations: