It is often expected for the pastor to visit his congregation, especially if that congregation is relatively small. He is expected to go, chit chat, give advice, pray with, etc. with most or all members of his church throughout the year. Whether or not this is a fair expectation depends on the size of the church and other demands on the pastor. But I quickly want to deal with a different type of pastor visit. While many are worried about making sure the pastor visits, very few if any are worried about who’s visiting the pastor.
I almost titled this article, “Who’s Visiting the Pastor?” but changed my mind. Then I thought about the title, “Your Pastor is Not a Spiritual Giant,” but settled on “Pastor Visits.” I would venture to say that most members/attenders of a church do not tend to think about their pastor’s need to be prayed with, and encouraged. According to churchleadership.org, 35% of pastors battle depression. Thirty-five percent! That’s a little more than one out of three. Honestly, I was shocked because nearly every pastor I know battles with “the black dog” (as Winston Churchill called it). Twenty-eight percent feel spiritually undernourished. Over the past few weeks, prominent men in ministry have admitted (or had admitted for them) moral failure and/or adultery.
How does that happen? It happens because your pastor is in constant spiritual warfare. He lives in that reality. Because he is charged with the task of caring for God’s people, he has a bigger target on his back. Satan wants nothing more than for your pastor to fail, because if he fails, the reputation of the church and Christ are damaged. Every day, he is engaged in a war to not only care for God’s people, but to continue to focus on Christ and follow him. The reality of this is shown in a study done by Pastors.com where 54% of pastors surveyed said they viewed pornography in the last year, and 30% in the last 30 days. You pastor desperately needs your prayer, love and encouragement as well as accountability with the other leaders in the church. He needs to know you love him and are for him. He needs to know you appreciate him and care for his spiritual health. He needs the grace of God just like every other Christian.
Please understand what I am not saying and what I am saying. I am not saying that these statistics are a result of the people in the church and/or his work with them. I am not blaming the member. What I am saying is that your pastor needs you to visit him. Not to chit chat (most pastors don’t have a lot of time to kill), but to love him, pray with him, and encourage him. I am sure that many members pray for their pastor at home, and it is much needed and much appreciated. However, your pastor (whether he knows it or not) needs you to come to him and say, “I want to pray for you right now.” He needs your phone calls of encouragement and your texts that remind him to hope in the Lord. Most phone calls, emails and texts to a pastor are because there is a crisis or problem that needs to be dealt with. Very few times is there someone calling or texting to let the pastor know he’s being prayed for.
Just so you know that it’s not all bad news: the same report shows 79% of evangelical or reformed pastors are happier than they used to be. I don’t know any pastors who are not happy with their calling or happy personally. But I do know many who battle with those issues I’ve mentioned above. Your pastor needs you as much as you need him (and maybe sometimes more).
Chris is a pastor at Highland View Baptist Church in St. Charles, Mo. You can find him on Twitter (@c_doyle_hughes) or on his website (www.cdoylehughes.com).