Have you ever considered as a church member, all that your Pastor is packing on his back? Besides carrying the load of the church as Senior Pastor or the load of a ministry as a Staff Pastor, every pastor has a personal life and family that impacts him dramatically.
Just Last Monday
Just last Monday, looking around the room in our monthly Ministry Team meeting, I surveyed the audience. There were around 40 people present, men and women who lead our specific ministries, along with some personal assistants. Among that group of not more than 40 people:
*Four of them had lost one of their parents in the past four weeks
*One of them had just lost twins through a miscarriage
*One of them had lost a 30-year-old son four months ago, which also meant another one of our staff members lost their son-in-law
Therefore, imagine this room of around 40 people — seven of them had suffered dramatic life-altering loss in recent days.
Pastors Pack Personal Pain And Challenge Daily
Church members often forget the personal life of a Pastor. He experiences real pain, suffering, and loss just like them.
Dr. Keith Thomas, one of my dear Pastor friends was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years ago. Until last Saturday night, he confounded the wise, outliving this disease like few, if any, others. Can you imagine: He lived before the church and the world all of those years, having been handed a death sentence over six years ago. Yet, he literally crawled to the pulpit in his last days, sitting in a chair while he preached, stopping to catch his breath. Less than one month ago, he preached for the last time.
Dr. Rick Warren, another dear Pastor friend, lost his 27-year-old son this past Saturday. For all those years, Pastor Warren and his wife, Kay, carried the burden of having a son that dealt with mental illness. Before the entire world, Rick and Kay have carried this ongoing challenge on their backs. Yet, they remain faithful.
These two ministry families are representative of every Pastor and his family across the world. While these families may be extreme illustrations, please know that every pastor I know carries personal “stuff” on his back, PLUS church “stuff.” As a church member, are you being sensitive to the needs of your Pastor and his family?
Do Not Add To What Your Pastor Is Packing On His Back Already
I have thought about how the “critics” of Keith Thomas and/or Rick Warren feel today, knowing these men have suffered loss greatly, one of his own life, and another, the loss of his son. I talk to pastors regularly from all over the nation and the church critics are tough on them, causing immense despair periodically.
I understand — I have my own critics. I always have and always will, just like any other pastor. The amazing thing I have come to know personally, is that it does not usually matter if your wife is fighting cancer, or your dad dies suddenly, or your mom dies of cancer, or other painful matters arise . . . critics usually never retreat in the midst of pain. They just add to what the pastor is packing on his back already.
There have been Sundays where I felt like crawling to the pulpit to preach. Besides my own challenges or grief or losses, I had to deal with the critics, never seemingly able to live up to their unrealistic expectations. On top of this, I minister to them regardless of what they think or how they act, yet I’m ignored by them when I have carried my own pain and loss.
Pastors Need You To Help Carry Them
I love ministering to pastors and their families. I know what it is like. I am one of them. I have served all size churches, in all kinds of towns, and in all types of situations. Pastors need people to help carry them. If I can do that for a Pastor, I will do it.
As a church member, I want to challenge you gently but unashamedly, walk with your Pastor, carrying him not only in prayer but also encouraging him. It does not matter which conference I am asked to speak at, I am always told, “Just encourage our pastors. They are dealing with discouragement and never have anyone encourage them in their calling and pastoral journey.” How sad! I promise you, those word are the words I am told repeatedly.
The church should walk with their Pastor. The Church should lift their Pastor up in prayer continually. The Church should be the greatest defender of the Pastor, not his greatest critic. Don’t add to what he is packing on his back already . . . the burden of the church and various personal life struggles. Make it your goal to carry the load with him. Be like Aaron and Hur, who lifted up the arms of Moses, not weighing them downward. When they stood with Moses in prayer, the people of God won and when they did not, the people of God struggled. Make it your personal goal to stand with your Pastor, bringing honor to him because he teaches you the Word of God.
Pictured: Pastor Ronnie and Jeana encouraging friend and fellow pastor, Keith Thomas (June, 2012)
Yours For The Great Commission,
The article below, published by Mark Brooks, Founding Partner and President of The Charis Group, is relevant to churches – large and small – all across the country. Pastors and church leaders, please take the time to read and consider this valuable article.
What the Decline in Check Writing will Mean for Your Church
Americans have changed the way they do commerce. Sit at your local Starbucks or McDonalds and you can see it. When was the last time you saw somebody writing a check? For that matter how often do you see anyone paying with cash? More and more Americans are turning away from the traditional means of payment towards plastic and digital commerce.
The Decline of Paper Checks
How many paper checks a month do you write in your family? You probably write few of any. The younger you are the fewer you write. In the last decade check writing has declined significantly. Consider the following facts from the Federal Reserve…
- Paper check usage declined from 61% of all payments in 2000 to just 26% by 2010.
- In 2011, the number of checks processed by the Federal Reserve fell at its steepest rate yet, down 17, a third of the volume processed 20 years ago.
- The average check size has approximately doubled, rising from an average of $879 in 2001 to $1,460 in 2011, as many smaller-value payments are transacted with debit cards or have been automated.
- Reserve Banks estimate that check volumes will have declined another 14 percent in 2012, to about 5.5 billion items.
The Federal Reserve summary of why check writing is in decline stated, “One key reason for the decline in check writing is the public’s rapid adoption of new and convenient payments service technologies. Today’s payment technologies allow households and businesses to pay by cash, checks, automated payments through automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments networks, debit cards, credit cards, and prepaid cards.”
Commerce today is more digital than ever before and this trend is only going to continue.
How The Church Has Responded to This Change
For the most part the church has NOT responded. In a 2011 study done by Lifeway Research only 14% of those churches surveyed offered online giving. For the past few months I have been conducting a survey of churches and their online giving activity. You can take that survey by going here. While the results of our survey shows a higher percentage of online usage by churches, 58% of respondents say they offer online giving, none the less it reveals some startling facts.
- 42% of churches that do offer online giving take in less than 10% of their incomes through online gifts. Even churches providing this tool have a ways to go towards effective use.
- We don’t feel our people will use it. That was the number one response of churches that did not provide online giving.
- The cost is too much, was the second reason for not offering online giving followed close behind by, We don’t understand how it works.
Clearly the Church has a long ways to go to catch up with the rest of how society is doing commerce! Many that have online giving are not using the tool effectively. Those that feel their members will not use it should ask how many have automatic bill payments set up. As for costing too much, would WalMart or McDonalds offer plastic options if in the long run it did not pay for itself? Transaction rates are fractional and providing ease of use will increase giving which will more than pay for any costs. As for not understanding how this technology works did that stop you from buying a computer? It is the 21st century after all.
When we do not offer online giving then we are forcing those who attend our churches to adapt to our 20th century means of collecting money. Fewer of your attendees come to church with their checkbooks and they have little cash on their person. Could this be one reason why giving to the church continues to decline?
What the Decline in Check Writing Will Mean for Your Church
This technological and cultural shift if not meet will have drastic implications for The Church including Your church. As your congregation gets younger by attrition you will see check writing become more infrequently used. If we do not change our process for collecting the offering we will see our offerings decline! The reason is simple. The harder we make it for people to give the less likely they will give. If our only means of collection remains the traditional offering plate, people will put in the few dollars they have on their person. The percentage of what you collect will decline if it has not already.
The Bible teaches us that we must give it does not say how. The offering plate came into wide acceptance in the U.S. only in the late 1800′s to early 1900′s. It is not the 11th commandment that gifts be put in a basket or plate. The offering plate is a tool. It will remain for some time an effective tool for collecting gifts. However if it is your only tool and the demise of paper checks continues then you are in trouble.
Smart churches provide multiple ways for people to give thus increasing their ability to receive funds. Since check writing is in decline isn’t it time you offered online giving?The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions