By Summer Stevens
1 Show up. Showing up says to your pastor, “I believe in what God is doing here at our
Prioritize Sunday attendance as a family. There are dozens of competing activities for Sunday morning—children’s sports, camping, sleeping in, visiting family—but it says a lot to your family and your pastor when church attendance is high on the list. Other events throughout the week are important, but there is nothing more discouraging to a pastor than preaching to an empty room.
If you are new to Christianity or young in your faith, any attendance is encouraging to your pastor.
But, if you have been a believer for a while and have any sort of influence in your church, chances are your pastor notices if you’re gone a lot; after a while your irregular attendance is received as a wound.
2 Pray for him, and let him know. The most encouraging people in our former congregation was an elderly couple who sent regular emails letting us know that they prayed for us daily.
Pastors struggle with loneliness and feelings of isolation. Standing up and delivering God’s message on Sunday can feel like being alone in an arena while spectators line up to take their best shot. But when a pastor is prayed for, it is as though the very stage on which he stands is held up by prayer. Spurgeon had a men’s prayer meeting four hundred strong in the basement of the church to support him on Sunday mornings.
It is a tremendous encouragement for your pastor to know that someone is daily lifting him up before God, standing on the front lines with him. Send a little note or card and let him know that you pray for him, or shoot him a text on Sunday morning before he preaches to let him know that you are praying that God fills him and
speaks through him.
3 Take sermon applications seriously. God -has chosen and equipped your pastor specifically for your church. When he prepares his messages, he asks God for His direction and leading. If you believe this, then you believe that God is speaking through your pastor to nourish and equip you. Make a point to take seriously sermon applications; and then let your pastor know of any positive outcomes. He is already receiving criticism about what he is doing wrong. For most pastors, those may be the only voices he hears even if God is using him powerfully. If
God moves you through his messages, be sure to let him know.
4 Be intentional about community. The pastor’s job is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. If this is true, a pastor is doing his job when the saints are actually doing the work of the ministry. If they are not, then he is not doing a very good job.
It’s encouraging to your pastor when he sees members of the congregation sharing the gospel, inviting people to church, and making a point to be intentional about creating community.
A woman in her 80s at our church sets an example for us all. She makes a point to meet a new person each Sunday, and writes down their name in a notebook so she can connect with them the next week.
5 Support and encourage personal and family time. A pastor spends his week pouring out to his congregation through teaching and preparation, meetings, counseling and visitation. It is necessary for a pastor to not only be allowed ample vacation and personal time, but to be encouraged by his leadership to take and enjoy the time in solitude, training, or with his family. This means enabling your pastor to turn off his phone and email responsibilities on days off or vacation weeks, and having an attitude of care and thankfulness when he does
take time away.
If he has young children, give him a gift card to a restaurant and volunteer to babysit so he and his wife can have a night out.
Lay leadership must take unplugging from ministry seriously—if your pastor is not unplugging on a weekly basis, make him. If he is not taking at least two weeks of disconnected time away from the church, force the issue. He may fight you on it, but don’t give in. Make him go away, or he will burn out and do it on his own.
Summer Stevens has been a “pastor’s wife” for almost 12 years. She and her husband Nathanael live south of Pittsburgh where he serves as the pastor at the Bible Chapel–Rostraver Campus. She leads the women’s ministry. Summer loves writing, cooking, and playing with their five hilarious children!