Don’t be fooled by the title. This blog is for church members as much or more as pastors. Members of churches want to support and show love to their pastors. Often members are unaware of the stresses and expectations that pastors work under. I pray that this short blog will be informative and generate some practical support for your pastor and your local church ministry. It gives members a look “under the hood” of the ministry challenges pastors face today. I’ll say this, from my 37 years of ministry experience (that is code for “I’m old”), there is nothing new in these lists. Some of the list order may change over time. However, one thing is for certain; Covid-19 has intensified all these issues.
What’s in this for pastors? While pastors already know what they need, from this survey a pastor can evaluate his own ministry and life situation to see where it may intersect with other pastors. This will give light and hope to understand that he is not alone in these common areas of struggle. This research also helps to inform Fairburn Baptist Association on how we can be proactive in coordinating with our pastors to address the crucial issues they identify.
In March and April of 2021, Lifeway Research commissioned a study of 1,000 U. S. pastors to discover what were their greatest needs. Here is the link for the complete survey results: https://bit.ly/3M1ktQY
In this blog I’m going to just write specifically on two groups of needs:
· Ministry and personal issues
· Ministry skills development by pastors in this group
As you can see from the graph above, the top five ministry and personal issues expressed by pastors are in the 70% range. These all are high priority needs of the pastors surveyed.
It is understandable that the Covid-19 Pandemic of the last two years has made four of the five issues harder to accomplish. The one issue that was not affected functionally as much is the issue of personal prayer. However, with the struggles of mental and spiritual health this issue of prayer may not have been as easy as one might expect.
It is no surprise to find that pastors tend to put the needs of their church’s ministry above their own. They tend to identify personal and skill needs with the needed ministry in the church. In asking the question of pastors concerning their skill growth challenges, one skill issue came out ahead of the others. That skill was Disciple-making. They saw that investing time, resources, and energy into making disciples as crucial to their role as pastor.
Second to disciple making was technology. On this subject, Scott McConnell, Director of Lifeway Research wrote, “While pastors taking the survey were encouraged not to focus on COVID-19 in their responses, the recent experiences of many pastors likely influenced the prevalence of technology as a skill that needs more development today,” Technology met a need during the pandemic with streaming of worship services. However, now that the technology door is open, it cannot be shut. Churches need developing technological expertise and ability that goes beyond anything that it did pre-pandemic. This ranges from their guest experience to discipleship to missions. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the new front door of the church is now found on the internet. The rest of the list are those skills that have appeared consistently at the top of pastors lists for skill development.
Your association is offering help in these crucial areas. Fairburn Association this year has been focused on collaboration among our churches in a common mission. We have offered several ways to connect with the unchurched community, through adopting an elementary school, ministry to first responders and in support of mental health. Pastor and Youth pastor cohorts have supported the sustainability of their ministries were begun this year. More will be added.
For information about upcoming interest meetings that can support the local mission of your church and ministry click here: www.fairburnba.org/events-1