Five Ways to Care for Your Pastor During Holy Week

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'Tis the Season / Ministerial Madness

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week for those of us in the (non-Orthodox) Christian world. Today we remember Jesus’ pageantry as he rode into Jerusalem, and from here we re-tell the stories of a last meal and new commandment, betrayal, denial, and commitment, as we journey to the cross, the tomb, and Easter. It is a holy week indeed.

It is also a generally extremely busy and often stressful week for pastors, perhaps more than any other in the liturgical year. However, people often overlook this, which just adds to the stress. (My theory is that unlike Advent/Christmas, the wider society is not aware of or involved in preparing for Easter other than getting baskets ready and hiding eggs, so people simply forget–even those that go to church!).

So, as we head into Holy Week 2015, here are five suggestions for ways to care for the pastors in your life so that they might experience the holy as well as the hectic of these days.

  1. Cancel, postpone, or delay meetings and/or events at the church. Now is not the time to discuss the arrangement of the storage closet near the fellowship hall, schedule an outside group to rehearse their brass band, or request a non-emergency pastoral care visit. Many churches have services on Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday–and some have vigils which go through the night–and multiple services on Easter Sunday, many beginning before sunrise, as well as the traditional Easter Breakfast(s). This means multiple worship bulletins, set-up, music choices, sermons, and so on, as well as being present and pastoral during all those events.  Nevermind that clergy do actually appreciate being able to try and experience these services, rather than just run them. Wait until after Easter for those meetings, keep the church as peaceful as possible, and allow your pastor some room for all the extra responsibilities that are already on the calendar for the next seven days.
  2. Offer to help–and follow through on that offer. Fold bulletins, set up chairs, arrange candles, proofread bulletins, make phone calls, bake bread, wash dishes, do laundry. Ask what needs to be done, and then actually do it! It’s beyond frustrating when ten people volunteering to accomplish a task and then only two people show up, so it takes three times as long. Or the pastor ends up having to do it instead of writing one of those sermons. **One caveat: the first part of this suggestion is to offer or ask. Please, please, please, while we appreciate the dedication, please don’t just take it upon yourself to do what you think needs to be done without checking in with someone first. Often that just adds more work when things need to be fixed!
  3. Bring coffee–or wine, or chocolate, or dinner, or flowers, or anything else that will let your pastor know you appreciate her and simply brighten your pastor’s day. We don’t need to be showered with gifts, but in the midst of a week in which we are not able to spend much time with our friends and families or even just sit and veg in front of the television, a little pick-me-up can go a long way toward lifting our spirits and renewing our energy.
  4. Show up. Pastors work hard to craft meaningful and holy worship experiences for our congregations and communities this week, and it really sucks when no one shows up. We get that people have busy lives, but this is an important week. We get that not everyone feels like taking on the drama of the Passion narrative, and that many struggle with these tough stories and their meaning. It is heavy and hurtful and hard, but it makes Easter so much more powerful, and we really want you to understand that. And, ok, we want to make our stress and late nights and long days feel worth it–which it doesn’t when people don’t actually attend all these special services. So make a point to show up this week and be open to whatever creative and innovative or traditional and familiar liturgy you experience, and be prepared to encounter the holy.
  5. Pray. Pray for your pastor this week. Pray for your family member or friend who is a pastor. Pray for all the pastors in your community, and even around the world. Pray that they might find a few moments to take a breath and re-center. Pray that they might not lose their temper or burst into tears and make it through this week with an intact sense of humor. Pray that they would be healthy. Pray that they would remember that they are not Jesus and do not need to be the savior. Pray that they would experience the holy breaking through the hectic. Pray that they would know God’s continuing presence, and Christ’s abundant grace, and the Spirit’s guidance and rejuvenation. Pray that they arrive at Easter ready to give and receive the Good News of the empty tomb, new life, and the promise of resurrection. And pray that they get a nice, long, Easter nap and a chance for a day of rest next week!

The Author

I'm a pastor. I believe in radical love and ridiculous grace. I love to sing and sew, and have a shop on Etsy. I'm trying to make my ecological footprint smaller. I have chickens who provide endless entertainment. Oh, and I'm a formerly single mom by choice, son E (born 6/00, placed 11/23/11, adoption finalized 11/21/14) and now making a life with The Dude and his two kids, Girl-E (12/02) and C (9/04). Baby Bumpy due to arrive around 5/25/15! This blog chronicles my thoughts on faith, family, and the wild adventure we call Life!

75 Comments

  1. Joseph Varsanyi says

    I am blessed to serve a congregation which gravitates to what is good, healthy and holy. I wish everyone a blessed Holy Week / Easter.

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  2. jmorgan says

    Agreed. As a pastor’s wife, I see this first-hand. He’s always trying to take care of himself. If everyone just pitches in with their time and talents, things run more smoothly and allow him to focus on the most important parts.

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    • Yes! I find that often (not always, of course) people in congregations expect well-thought-out sermons, unlimited pastoral care time, the pastor’s presence at all church events and a good number of community events, and administrative work, while not calculating the number of hours that actually requires. If others help out with more “menial” tasks–set up, making photocopies, whatever–then I can sit for a couple hours with someone in the hospital or spend a few hours in prayer and reflection over a text, without feeling the need to constantly look at the clock. Thank you for your comment.

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  3. Mike Vandiver says

    As someone who served 37 years in the ministry, I can truly say that I would prefer that all of us focus not on what others can do for us but what we can do that will make a difference in the lives of those who need it most!!! Making sure that laws are just, that meaningful peace is being sought for all humankind and not just for those who are our friend and allies and that we make the sacrifices in our own lives that are necessary to make sure there is less abundance for us and more to meet the basic needs of life for all!!! That’s the kind of care a pastor or any other human being really needs!!! To heck with “window dressing” gifts that do nothing but cover up the real needs of life!!!!

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    • Mike, my point was not to make pastors sound needy, but actually to make people aware of ways in which they can minister to pastors in a yearly time of need, so that we/they can focus on justice, peace, and sharing the Good News without risking burnout or damaging relationships. Of course, some of that falls to the pastor to provide self-care, too, but others helping out never hurts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t tell you the number of colleagues whose days, moods, and attitudes have been changed by a surprise piece of chocolate showing up on their desks. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, but, it’s entirely stupid to ask congregants to care for their pastor just because s/he has a single exceptionally busy week once a year. The pastor signed up for this. Prior even to “hearing a call” to ordination, the pastor knew this would happen predictably, once a year. It may even have been the liturgical intensity of Holy Week that convinced the pastor to seek ordination. THIS IS THEIR JOB. And it’s one week a year.

    It’s not like nobody else is exceptionally busy. In the US, this is the busiest time of the year for the accountants in your congregation–who is bringing them chocolate and wine, and reducing their church obligations from mid-January to mid-April? Who is cooking dinner for the farmers who have a narrow window to get ready for planting, or who are looking after livestock that are about to push out very large offspring?

    One busy week of the year doesn’t entitle you to special treatment. And I’m tired of hearing how hard Holy Week is for the clergy. If they can’t have a tough week that arrives bang on schedule once a year, we need better clergy.

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    • Kathy says

      1. This is not a singularly exceptionally busy week for pastors. It is one of many. However, it is THE week on which the story of the Christian faith hinges. We, for good nor not, feel the pressure of “getting it right” – especially since many will not be in worship again until next year at this time. What can we say or do that they haven’t heard or seen before that just might capture their hearts and allow the Spirit to move THIS time.
      2. It is not once a year. There is also Christmas (Advent), Lent, and all the times of the year when we are preparing our administrative/denominational reports. And if a church does not have the resources for a staff, or does not have a broad volunteer base, but still desires/feels called to have the mission and ministry of “making disciples” through Bible study for all ages, reaching out into the community missionally and evangelically, etc. most of that requires the leadership of the pastor in charge
      3. Yes, I signed up for this. I have not spent a Christmas Eve/Day or an Easter Day with my extended family in 25 years. They have gotten the left-overs of an exhausted, worn out, stressed out daughter, sister, wife, step-mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, aunt, etc. and never once have complained. They and I have known from the beginning that these liturgical seasons are part of my “gig”. But in some ways none of us were prepared for or ever get used to the exhaustion that accompanies me into late family celebrations.
      4. Yes, this is my job. But it is my calling. It is both my profession and my Christian vocation. I love the Christian faith story with all my heart and do my very best to convey it through the job description that pays my salary, pension and insurance as well as being a disciple of Jesus Christ whether I am in professional ministry or not. It is not something I can leave at the office. No matter where I go – local football games, grocery store, out to dinner, 24/7 I am a Christian pastor – observed and judged through the fishbowl of onlookers – those who have pastors on a pedestal and those who are just waiting for us to fail. This one week calls attention to all that.
      5. All professions have busy weeks, months and seasons. I have had accountants in all my congregations. They miss meetings from January – April, regardless of their place of leadership. That’s just the way it is. I know – because I pray for them, pick up the slack for them when they can’t be present to do their work, or find someone else to do it for them. It’s something to take into consideration when asking an accountant to serve or when they volunteer to serve. But it also means that I as their pastor, check in with them during tax season – find out how they are doing. They miss worship, Bible Studies, they get ill. And it’s up to me as their pastor to stay in touch with them to let them know they are being prayed for and that they are loved. Sometimes their Sunday School classes may even prepare meals for their families. I grew up in a farming community. I know what it means to have no one in worship during wheat harvest, to have the whole church praying for rain, to have the pastor lead us in prayer after a hail storm has wiped out everyone’s crops, and for the pastor to work “in the field” during harvest, if needed – you gotta get the crop in before it rains. I’ve had doctors and nurses get up and leave during worship to deliver babies, go to the emergency room, or even tend to someone having a heart attack during worship. They, too, are often called upon at a moments notice without notice. I have stood in hospital hallways and prayed with doctors who have just lost patients, or who have just had to give a difficult diagnosis. All professions have busy weeks, months and seasons. And most of the time pastors are right there with those professionals – praying with and for them and making sure their spiritual care is tended to.
      6. I have sat in 2 different restaurants and overheard conversations that went something like this: “I don’t know why pastors get paid so much. They really only work one day a week.” These people were serious. Perhaps in their particular congregations that is true. Perhaps their pastors get paid an exorbitant amount of money for merely stepping into a pulpit, talking for 20 minutes, and they are done for the week. I do not know any of those pastors or churches. I know pastors that have fallen short of other people’s expectations of them. I know pastors that have made mistakes – and perhaps the biggest mistake was saying to someone within earshot, the day after Easter, “Man, I’m tired!” But mostly, I know pastors who are like most lay people – they are doing their best to answer the call to serve in the name of Jesus Christ by loving God, loving others as they love themselves. If we as clergy have overstepped our boundaries by leading laity in any way to think that we expect or are entitled to special treatment, well then, bad on us. But quite honestly I am so glad I serve a God of grace that allows me a little faithful complaining (read the Psalms), while at the same time praising God and giving thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ – Love in the flesh. And I am grateful to currently serve a congregation that considers that we are in ministry together – they would be shocked at the comment to which I am responding. I am so sad for pastors who serve churches or laity who expect something less.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dawn Teer says

        I am totally appalled at the people who have made such negative comments. I have been a Pastor’s secretary and seen first hand how the ministry and congregants can suck the life out of a Pastor. Pastor’s need love too, and personally, thanks for the reminder. I happen to love and appreciate my pastor, and not just during Holy Week. I usually prepare and deliver her and her husband, meals a few times a month. Not out of any sense of obligation, but out of love. That’s it. We call it my Ministry of Love. And guess what? It doesn’t hurt a bit, in fact, it feels pretty, darn good.

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    • Suzanne says

      Consider that your pastor may not bme entirely well at this time. I don’t think they need to be coddled nor do they want it. Just to know someone cares enough to offer could be a boost.

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    • Wendy, thank you for your comment (and those which have followed, and I assume may continue). I appreciate the critique. This list was not meant as a demand, but as a suggestion and reminder that sometimes, clergy need care, too. Yes, of course, there are pastors who sabotage themselves or who somehow enjoy the role of martyr. There are also those for whom Holy Week really isn’t that big of a deal. However, in my experience and from conversations with colleagues, this is one of those weeks where pastors find themselves snapping at their family members, feeling overwhelmed and questioning their call, and generally finding that the rest of the world–including the people in their parish, even other staff or volunteers such as musicians–forgets the significance and demands. And maybe that’s a bigger question of the relevance of the observances of Holy Week at all (but that’s a whole other post).

      I didn’t mean this to be a “clergy are special” post, or as a “it shouldn’t be so hard” rant. Yes, other professions have busy days, weeks, and seasons. We should care for them, too. Accountants should be brought wine and chocolate this time of year, and communities should make meals for their farmers at big harvest times. I am not complaining about the fact that this is a busy season. This was simply meant to make people aware of why we might not be so available this week, and how they might minister to their ministers if they felt so inclined. (I also think another post could be written on how pastors can make sure they’re taking care of themselves during Holy Week, as a lack of self-care and advocacy is admittedly part of the problem).

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    • OMG Kathy. Bitter much? Do clients expect an accountant or farmer to drop everything and come to a hospital and pray for someone who is about to die? Are they expected to try and save a marriage or listen to someone who has been beaten by their spouse or boyfriend and is in fear of her life? You obviously have no idea what a Pastor spends their time doing. Then, they have to work on their sermon for Sunday, in addition to all the other obligations they have-meetings, etc.

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  5. Some of us UCC (and other demonination) retired clergy, enjoy not leading seemingly endless services during “Hell Week.” For the officiant, Holy Week is sometimes 100 hours of work. After retirement we can participate in living rather than leading. Your comment about “show up” is what is really difficult, some years. There is exhaustion at the end of services on Easter, but it is not always a congregation’s wish for the pastor to take a vacation the next week, which is usually much needed. Excellent article!

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    • Angie Forde says

      Wendy, this article presents “suggestions for ways to care for the pastors in your life”, not “things pastors have a right to expect”. Some of us are grateful to know that there are practical ways to be helpful, should we desire to be so.

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      • Do it as a friend, yes. When your pastor publicly issues a customized shopping list? You need to assemble the search committee, because this is a pastor you Do Not Need.

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      • This is precisely my point. This list was not meant solely for church members, but for anyone with a pastor in their lives–siblings, spouses/partners, friends. It has been my experience that people around pastors forget–or don’t know at all–what Holy Week entails. When we do decline invitations or aren’t available for events, people don’t understand.

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      • Wendy. In reference to your words: “When your pastor publicly issues a customized shopping list? You need to assemble the search committee, because this is a pastor you Do Not Need.” In her Church there is NO NEED to assemble the search committee……she is needed and doing a wonderful job!!!!
        Good by Wendy…..I am not coming back to read your reply’s…I think the administrator needs to end this blog. You are so mad and hateful and you want everything to be your way and that is not going to happen!

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  7. Suzanne says

    Wendy, do you not like your pastor. Everyone in our church is so appreciative of all ours does. Her husband is also a pastor at a different church so she does lots on her own as there are others still at home who I am sure help too. Did not Jesus show love to his deciples and wash their feet?

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  8. Suzanne, after training in a seminary, getting a university PhD in theology, working multiple adjunct jobs, moving across an ocean to work for the Church of England and being treated like dirt while I was trying to train people to be decent clergy–I no longer HAVE nor WANT a pastor. I am pretty much through. I live with one foot and three toes out the door of the church, because I am tired of an institution that is so incapable of self-reflection and self criticism. I am not sure the church will survive–nor if it should.

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    • But Wendy, lots of other people don’t feel that way. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt and treated like dirt, I truly am. My brother is also my priest, which gives me a window into the world of clergy. Sure, he signed up when he heard his call, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve care. I’d heard how hard it was to be a mom too, but I keep going, and encouragement and love always help. Take care.

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    • AGF says

      I believe you need to reassess your commitment to any lifestyle within a denomination! Your commitment to humility is betrayed by your post’s. In 65 years of active participation in congregations of Methodist and UCC followings including 4 year’s at a moderate Christian College I have never seen such negativity. AGF

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      • I’m sorry this came off as negative. That was absolutely not my sense or intent. Although I wrestle with this calling at times (don’t we all?), the majority of the time I deeply love this work. This was not meant as a complaint, just suggestions to make people more aware of what many pastors experience this week and how others might be of help and blessing.

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      • My commitment is now to be like the Jesus who spoke uncomfortable truth to the cozy assumptions of religious functionaries. Which is what got him marginalized.

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    • because I am tired of an institution that is so incapable of self-reflection and self criticism. I am not sure the church will survive–nor if it should.

      To be completely honest, I feel this way myself fairly frequently. Even we clergy sometimes (or often) think the institution gets in the way of the actual work and call of ministry, while recognizing that we ourselves are part of it.

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      • After all, this is the week when the Church forgets what happens when those with religious power try to silence those who speak difficult truths to their cozy assumptions.

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  9. Hal says

    Wendy,
    I am a priest and professor. When finals week comes (as it does, with predictable frequency) no one seems to think anything of it if I postpone meetings or other events until after I have gotten the grades in. This seems like a minimum standard of polite behavior on both sides – I can give my full attention to the work at hand and others can expect that I will show them the same courtesy. Not to adopt a similar standard in the church would seem both impolite and at odds with Christian charity.

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    • You actually make my point, Hal. The cleric him/herself has to take the initiative of cancelling meetings, making sure his/her needs are met and time is respected. To expect or drop heavy-handed hints that someone else should do it is sickening. The church needs to be healthier and more grown-up that that.

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  10. Wendy, Perhaps you need the counseling of a member of the clergy. Or perhaps it is time to step out that door and let another, who truly loves being a minister, take the wonderful place you have left.
    Have no fear…the church WILL survive!

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    • You TOTALLY have to be off your nut to suggest it. Clergy are the reason I can’t stand church. I’m not ordained, but I worked in church research (an ordained person cannot possibly objectively look at congregations from the point of view of those who count), and I worked in designing ministry training programs. I have no pulpit/church to leave. The idea that talking to the very people who damaged my faith so badly is appalling.

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      • I am glad you are not ordained. Would leave your church if you were preaching. And i would hope the church would not allow you to have anything to do with it.

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    • I miss wrote one sentence: “Or perhaps it is time to step out that door and let another, who truly loves being a minister, take the wonderful place you have left.” It should have read: ‘who truly loves the church’.
      The way you have been preaching on Judy’s subjuecct made me feel you were a minister. Anyway…..GET OUT of your job and let someone who works in your field and loves the church and the workings of the church take your position..

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  11. David Zub says

    Isn’t #5 “Pray”? I tend to agree. It’s not so tough, but it is good to have the work supported. It is entirely a different point… never mind supporting your minister: our obligation is to worship. Show up.

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  12. David Zub says

    BTW, Wendy: your vitriol toward clergy pretty much disqualifies you as to anything “objective.” Sorry you’re so hurt. Find something else to do.

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  13. David, many of my friends are clergy–but they’re the ones who also see grave flaws with the church. And yes, the church needs some people who are both knowledgeable but not so deeply entrenched to say some very painful things. Because the church, if nobody has noticed, is in serious decline, and none of the last 50 years of congregational development guru-ism has delivered much in the way of positive change. If the institution had the ability to be a tiny bit self-reflective, instead of self-protective, stuff might be very different.

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  14. Wonderful article! A good reminder that we are all human, time is short & together many hands make light work. Each one of us has a voice, thank you Wendy for reminding us all the rip-tide of discontent keeps us searching, nothing is perfect nor should it be. Blessings to all on this journey.

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  15. Marna Burwell says

    I believe He said we are to love one another. Wendy, I will pray for you. I am sorry there is so much hate in your heart. My father was a Methodist minister for 37 years. I’m grateful.

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  16. Jennifer says

    I am grateful for the congregation that I belong to. Our bishop is a wonderful kind man. He has a full-time job, teaching, coaching cross country and he and his wife have four very active young boys. He is over all of the young men, in our congregation age 12~18 as well as everyone. He spends many late hours at the church after school serving or at a hospital or caring for someone in their home. He is not paid nor does he expect to be paid for his service. There are many others in leadership position who assist in helping and meeting the needs of the congregation. We all do our part because we love the Lord. No one is paid in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We all gladly serve the Lord as we help and serve each other.

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  17. pestomum says

    I am interested and a little saddened to see how quickly “debating with someone who has a different view” becomes “telling them and ourselves that they’re wrong, and that we should pray for them” [and WHY does that always read as such a put down?!]

    Anyway.

    I used to be a priest. I was married with 4 children. I had many clergy friends who used to brag about being so tired and “never seeing the family at Easter and Christmas”. Clergy who made the celebrations all about them.

    So I worked hard and smart and prioritised what needed doing, bought ready meals occasionally and said no to lots of things that other people could very well do themselves (decorating the church hall, delivering leaflets, etc).

    Also though, i regularly reminded myself that I was the one PAID TO WORK FULL TIME on this so if I had time over, I’d stack chairs or fold palm crosses or whatever. But only if I had time. Like everyone else in the real world does.

    And as for my poor sad family in the rent and rates free house that came from the church with lots of charitable grants from Sons of the Clergy? I was at work Xmas morning, but back by lunch and the same on Easter Day. So no big deal at all!

    Being a member of Christ’s church does NOT require us to believe that his clergy are saints or martyrs or even really doing anything very difficult. So I don’t. I appreciate and support them as members of the same body of Christ and if I’m part of the body that pays them I expect to be able to hold them accountable for how they do their job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Pray for you” when coupled with telling you there is “so much hate in your heart” *is* a put-down. No matter how much sweetness is added to that big glob of meal in the mouth…

      It’s nice if someone wants to do these things as a friend of the pastor, spontaneously. But this is a heavy-handed “hint” that the pastor wants you to do something. It would have been somewhat more convincing, and far less disturbing, had it come from someone who isn’t a pastor.

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    • As I mentioned in another comment, I think it might be worth another post to remind clergy how to care for themselves during these times, as well. As a profession we don’t do that very well, and yes, there are those who enjoy the role of martyr and the attention it brings. I also am well-aware when I attend an evening meeting and privately sigh about another evening away from home, that many of those with whom I’m meeting have just come from an 8-10 hour day at work and are also tired and wanting to be home, and that at least I’m getting paid for being there. It does not go un-recognized, at least not for me.

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  18. Judy s says

    What about the organists who play at every service and arrange for beautiful music and need to rehearse with all the special music, soloists, choirs, brass, etc.? Don’t they deserve some tender loving care also?

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    • Well, of course they do! But nobody’s telling you that your organist (or the choir members, who are almost always volunteer, and this digs into their real lives in a massive way) needs special treatment.

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    • Absolutely! As do the administrators who are editing and printing out many extra bulletins this week, and the custodial staff who are doing extra work (for those churches who are lucky enough to have such staff). Pray for them, bring them chocolate, too, and don’t give them unnecessary extra tasks this week, either!

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  20. Patti says

    Thank you for recognizing those of us more behind the scenes. I am an administrator at a medium size country church. I’ve been in this job for over twenty years, and through four pastors. I am the constant that keeps our church going through pastoral vacancies, and the changes that go with a new pastor.

    Through each change it seems that more things fall on me. In addition to all my regular duties, I have ended up with a lot of the duties a pastor normally does, at least in smaller churches. I plan the services, make a bulletin with the entire service in it for the pastor and other helpers such as readers, and then redo it for the congregation. I also do a POwerPoint of the service each week.

    For Holy Week, I have had to plan Palm Sunday, where we also had seven youth confirmed. Also walked the pastor through it to decide on details. Maundy Thursday service was put together, fairly standard. We are trying something new for Good Friday – Prayer Stations. We had a script, which I had to tweak, then we walked through it twice, and we still have to set it all up. I will also lead one of the groups through the prayer stations so that we can start at various times. It is all very exciting, but we only have about thirty people signed up. Frustrating to put so much work into something, and not have people participate!

    Part of Saturday will be spent taking down the prayer stations, and setting up Easter Lilies. Then on Easter we have two services, which I put together, and still have to finalize, along with all the details that go with that.

    Often times while attending the services I’m not scheduled to work at, I am still running around taking care of problems. No one showed up to run the sound board – find someone, POwerPoint won’t start – fix it, too hot or cold in church – change the temp, pastors microphone not working – bring her a new battery, the list goes on and on. I miss a lot of the meaning in worship through all this.

    My point in all this is, it is not just the pastors who are extremely
    busy this time of year. If your church has behind the scenes people
    take some time to pray for them, and show your appreciation. The
    pastor is not the only one working extra during this season!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a lay person who’s worked for the church (not at the parish level, but in theological research and training people for ministry), it’s the people like you, Patti, who are more than necessary.

      As an unpaid lay member of various parishes, I served for eight years as a lay preacher, adult educator, small group leader, Stephen Minister, choir member, subdeacon, member of the profile committee. With full time work on top of all of that, I was lucky my cat got fed from Palm Sunday to Easter. God forbid my car should have broken down, or my toilet backed up during that period, because I had nobody else to take care of that while all the other church commitments pressed–and because I was single, the trope was “it’s not like you have kids to worry about.” I planned for Holy Week: made sure my freezer had meals I had prepared in advance and could just microwave, I had all the clean clothes I needed, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cook and do laundry during that time (not with an eight hour a day job and a 45 minute commute each direction).

      It was like going to a bad summer camp, really.

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  21. sandy says

    Very interesting reading! While you are all praying…..you can pray for me, too! My husband is a Deacon and has been practicing the Exsultet for weeks now. I, too, may know it by heart at the Easter Vigil, LOL! BTW…..we take good care of our priest, deacons, administrators and musicians during Easter week (and the rest of the year as well)!!

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  22. Michael says

    “… will let your pastor know that you appreciate HER (emphasis mine)…” I don’t have “her” pastors, and part of the reason I don’t is because the above… which is emblematic of hyper-Liberal congregations/denominations who denigrate the (unrepentant and unapologetic) heterosexual, White, strong male… e.g. the root of all that is evil; evil incarnate. There article does not include so much as a “hat-tip”– e.g. that inelegant locution–“him or her”… just “HER.”

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    • Terri says

      That’s what’s great about America, isn’t it? If someone doesn’t like women pastors they can choose a church that doesn’t have one. Everyone benefits in that scenario.

      Like

  23. Michael says

    I obviously meant “The”– in lieu of “There”– “article does not.. ” I am a poor proof-reader in addition to my other (above listed) failings.

    Like

  24. Terri says

    SMH. The woman simply wrote some nice tips for those who are interested in knowing how they can best support their pastor and church during Easter. If you’re not interested in that topic, don’t read it.

    Like

    • Oh, as someone who spent several years designing the programs to train people for ordained ministry, I’m extremely interested. Because one of the things we worked hard on is to train people to be self-reliant and to be able to cope with the demands without needing to drop heavy hints as to how to take care of their pastors. This would have been something we’d pick apart letter by letter, because it’s exactly What Not To Do.

      Like

  25. Terri says

    I probably shouldn’t have used the word topic. Obviously you’re interested in this topic since you developed training materials on it. What I meant that this article is good for someone who is interested in knowing what they can do to support their pastor and church. I think what you’re saying,Wendy, is a pastor shouldn’t be looking for special support from their congregation, but that doesn’t mean this article isn’t helpful to people who actually WANT to know what they can do to help support their pastor and church. Would the article be more acceptable to you if it had been written by a member of the church instead of the pastor?

    Like

  26. April Fiet says

    This pastor just wept a little upon reading this list. ❤ Thank you. And, may God's blessings be evident as you wait beside the tomb, waiting for the shining light of a new day.

    Like

  27. Ds. Corrie says

    Just spent many many hours supporting and counseling a family that had to bury their fifteen year old daughter and sister, who suddenly died. A whole congregation, schools, and everyone around us in mourning and needing care. 600plus people in the service remembering her life the Monday after Palm Sunday, where I had to lead. There is no planning for this, and neither is the ministry ‘just a job you get paid for’ at times like this. There are several people in my congregation who brought me flowers in support, or sent me a card or email to let me know how valuable my pastoring has been to them these past two weeks. Also recognizing the enormous workload just before Easter. And nobody is complaining that everything this Holy Week is last minute work. That is how a congregation recognizes that we are all, pastors included!! a true community of faith. It was heartwarming to read the blog as a compliment to my congregation. And as a welcome reminder to myself what it takes to care for a minister: your own and your congregation’ s loving care. I will be unavailable until Wednesday, with everyone’s approval. (I am a minister in the Reformed Church in The Netherlands)

    Like

  28. Dee M says

    Great Article. We followed through making a Care Easter basket/survival kit for our pastor and family. Results were wonderful. Thx u for this gentle nudge to do something kind to show appreciation.

    Like

  29. Nancy says

    Dee,

    So nice of you to do that. I am going to do one for our female pastor and male pastor when I get back to town in late April.

    Like

  30. Pingback: 6 Ways for Congregations to Care for Grieving Families | The Rev. Elsa Anders Peters

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