Three Practical Ways to Support Church Workers
Updated: Jul 14
Here are just some struggles Church Staff members have voiced as identified by Chuck Lawless in an article entitled “12 Frequent Burdens of Church Staff.”
1. Lacking time with senior leadership.
2. Lacking clearly defined roles and expectations.
3. Longing for a God-sized vision.
4. Having few friends, especially among other staff.
5. Living in a ministry silo.
6. Ministering with few funds.
7. Perceiving they have no voice.
8. Having no “safe” place, to be honest.
9. Receiving poor salary and/or benefits.
10. Longing for affirmation.
11. Competing for volunteers.
12. Seeing and hearing too much.
As we look at the church’s future, there is trouble brewing, and it usually lies beneath the surface unseen and ignored by many in our congregations. At the heart of the concern I see is tending to the Shepherd, his family, and other church workers and their families.
Most churches dearly love their pastor and value the work of their church staff yet, I believe most congregations do not know just what a strain the ministry places on church workers and their families. In this article, I will give you some ideas about how to tend to the church workers in your midst.
Identify a ministry support person or Two.
Carefully select a godly person from your congregation who will be tasked with overseeing the welfare of your pastor and other professional church workers’ families. But here is the caution. These people need to be of high moral character and spirituality. You do not want people on this individual or two who will gain the worker’s and his family’s trust and then use that information to undermine their ministry. These people are there to be an advocate for the workers. Church workers live their lives in a fishbowl, so it is hard to feel comfortable asking the congregation for the critical, even basic needs they have. Asking for support often seems wrong and even is considered unfaithful to thier call.
Church workers may wrongly believe that asking to have their needs taken care of shows a lack of spiritual maturity. They teach us to trust God. If we are in want, God will provide, so often our families go without needs being met. This team would regularly monitor the workers and their families’ physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Be patient team, it will take some time to establish trust. But once trust has been established, your mission will be to offer suggestions to congregational leaders that would improve the workers’ living conditions; represent the servant’s interests in any discussions that involve the workers or their families.
Provide fair and adequate salary compensation and retirement benefits.
The Bible clarifies that “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). I know times are hard and congregations are struggling financially as well, but what I see happening in the church is that churches are balancing their shortfall on the backs of the pastors and other professional church workers. It should compensate these tireless servants of God on par with the people being served and other ministries in the same community.
Leadership in every church should be more concerned about the physical and fiscal well-being of their workers. These financial needs must be a priority at the budget time, not an afterthought. The way you care for the people who have been called to serve you reflects you as a congregation and a witness to your community of Christ’s love in action. Consider the personal sacrifice church workers had to make and continue to make to serve the people of God and that community.
Many have expenses related to the professional training they received, education loans to repay, and the cost you may know, but many are struggling to meet the needs of raising a family. The expenses associated with remaining current and improving as a professional, continuing education, and conferences. And at some point, church workers will need to retire. Is the congregation paying into their retirement and providing adequate health care benefits? Review these things annually and adjust them as needed. Give your church workers the freedom to give you their very best instead of worrying about their needs.
Let Your Leaders Lead.
One of the most frustrating times in my ministry was not being allowed to lead. My congregation called me to lead them, expected the results of effective servant leadership but refused to turn over the reins and allow me to shepherd them. To actually lead a flock of people in the future, that group needs to be open to new ideas and fresh approaches to ministry. You have called trained professionals to work alongside you for the good of God and his kingdom. You have access to resources, and you have workers with new concepts from the world’s greatest religious minds, but congregations keep trying the ideas that were new in 1954. To coin a phrase, “1954 called, they want their ideas back.”
There are people on the property that, as you conducted your ministry search, you called because you saw a need for change, so what happened? People of God, you need to give your church workers a chance and permission to try out these new ideas. To dream big dreams for your congregation. These plans for the church’s future may seem grandiose or unrealistic, but aren’t all God-sized dreams grandiose and unrealistic? That’s what makes them God-sized. Be open. Dreams are fragile, and so is the psyche of your church workers. Help your staff to keep their goals alive. Don’t be afraid to let him/her fail occasionally. In fact, when they fail, rejoice with them for having the courage to try.
Follow and encourage their leadership instead of digging potholes for them to fall into. Allow and expect them to speak out honestly against sin and injustice. Let the Holy Spirit work. What the church needs now more than ever is courageous leadership, to confront challenging times in this post-Christian culture.
As with any ideas about the future, God needs to direct and lead His people into the future, not any.