Supporting Your Pastor During Week of Ministry
From the beginning, Pension Fund has held supporting pastors as one of our key values. Started in 1933, Week of Ministry has been celebrated the second week of October each year as a way to support and uplift pastors with the goal of keeping them in ministry and encouraging others to choose ministry as their calling. We know that pastors face many stressors that can make caring for a congregation difficult, and it is our goal to help ease that burden. A recent study reported that an astonishing 40% of pastors now show a high risk of burnout. That’s an almost 400% increase since 2015 when that number was just 11%.* The weight pastors carry in their roles can be overwhelming, and it is crucial for us to rally behind them and show our appreciation during Week of Ministry. This year, our focus is on supporting pastors through our new initiative, Cornerstones, which aims to bolster their physical health, holy friendships, financial wellness, and mental health. Here are some meaningful ways your congregation can contribute to these pillars of their well-being:
- Physical Health: Congregations can play an active role in helping their pastors maintain good physical health. Congregants can organize walking or exercise groups as a church community to foster a culture of fitness. They can also consider supplying healthy snacks at church events and promoting wellness programs that benefit both the pastor and the entire community. Ensure your pastor takes a regular day off during the week for rest, and has uninterrupted time away for vacation.
- Holy Friendships: Pastors often need supportive, faith-based friendships to thrive in addition to relationships in the community that are outside of the church. Encourage your congregation to build genuine relationships with their pastor beyond their pastoral duties. Remembering that pastors are people, too, is something often forgotten by congregants but important to a pastor's well-being. Organizing social events and small group gatherings to help foster connection with your pastor is a great way to start. Additionally, if you are a pastor yourself, it is important to seek out mentorship or support from fellow clergy members who can provide guidance and companionship in your spiritual journey.
- Financial Wellness: Financial stress can take a significant toll on pastors, so it is essential to support their financial well-being. Ensure that your pastor receives fair compensation that reflects their dedication and the cost of living in your area. When considering your pastors compensation, remember to separate out the cost of having an employee such as health insurance, SECA/FICA, continuing education, and retirement contributions versus seeing the “total package” as their compensation. Encourage your pastor to use programs such as Your Money Line to assist with developing healthy financial habits.
- Mental Health: Pastors often face unique emotional challenges in their roles, making mental health support crucial. Congregations should create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your pastor feels comfortable discussing their emotional well-being. Encourage your pastor to seek professional counseling or therapy when needed and support their decision to take sabbaticals or breaks for rest and rejuvenation. Ensure that the congregation understands the importance of boundaries and allows the pastor time for self-care and relaxation. Pension Fund offers Learn to Live, an online mental and emotional wellness program, to support all active clergy and their household members age 13 and older, which can also help them maintain mental wellness.
Pastors play a vital role in our lives, and it is our responsibility as a congregation to uplift and support them. During Week of Ministry, let us come together to celebrate our pastors and show our gratitude by actively taking part in their well-being. By focusing on their physical health, holy friendships, financial wellness, and mental health, we can ensure that our pastors are equipped to serve with passion and dedication, leading our congregations toward spiritual growth and community flourishing.