10 Ways to be Your Pastor’s Favorite
Ok, good pastors don’t play favorites, but there are members who make their jobs easier. If you want to be that kind of church member, check out these 10 things.
Disclaimer: my experience as a member and a pastor is only with small to medium-sized congregations, and I know these things apply to churches of that size. I don’t claim to know much at all about how the large churches (over 1000 members) operate…but I imagine some (many) of these still apply.
Tell them when you’re sick, in the hospital or if someone has died.
Pastors are not psychic, nor do they sense a disturbance in the force when a member has left this mortal coil. If you want their presence and/or their prayers, you need to tell them.
Do not approach the pastor (or music director) right before worship about an important issue.
You have no idea what the pastor has had to deal with while trying to get centered enough to lead worship. The nursery worker didn’t show up. The women’s toilet overflowed. The greeters have had disagreement. Someone has just yelled at them for moving a picture. If you have something important to discuss, right before worship is not the time. If you want to talk after worship, wait until they’ve finished greeting those who were in worship.
This is not just because pastors put a lot of effort into the worship and programs of the church, and nothing is more defeating that expending all that energy and not having folks show up. It’s also because when you show up to worship, you are prioritizing time with God, as well as growing your faith and your relationship with others in the community. It just makes everything better–for you, for your pastor and the church as a whole.
Know that everything at the church is not there for you.
First of all, church exists to help us follow and worship Jesus Christ. It’s not our own personal club. That being said, you do need a church where you find community, encouragement and a place to worship.
In her book, Real Good Church, Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette talks about how church members should consider that about 25 percent of what happens at any church is not going to appeal to them. A hymn you don’t like. A program you don’t see the need for. But also realize that the 25 percent that is not for you is part of someone else’s 75 percent that is for them. And remember there’s something in your 75 percent that someone else can’t stand. That’s how community works.
Your pastor and the other members of your congregation are not perfect. They will make mistakes, have bad days and screw things up (I’m not talking illegal or unethical behavior, but the kind of missteps we all make from time to time when we’re tired or hungry or aren’t feeling heard). Rather than allow these instances to be a source of conflict, extend the same grace and forgiveness that you have been offered by Christ.
Share your ideas and your gifts
Pastors love your ideas, but not when they’re ideas on what they (the pastor) need to be doing. Pastors are already stretched to the max, but they are always looking for new ways to engage their congregation and reach beyond the walls. If you take an idea to the pastor, be ready to roll up your sleeves to help make it happen.
Share Your Passions
Are you the founding member of the local unicyclist society? Are you the lighting expert for community theater productions? Do you volunteer every third Tuesday feeding homeless people under an overpass? Are you preparing to run your first marathon? Let your pastor and church community know. These are the places where you are out being the church. Pastors love knowing what you’re up to.
Tell them when something is wrong.
If you have a real problem with something that pastor has said or done or with something that is happening in the church, tell the pastor. Honestly, they want to know. Don’t become a poll taker by bringing your concerns to everyone but the pastor to see how many people agree with you. And if you hold it all inside, it will just grow and fester until it blows up about something like what color to paint the Sunday school room, and the real issue will never be addressed.
Give Your Money
Lots of reasons for this one. People who can part with it have a healthier relationship with money. Not only does the church need money to keep the doors open and a lack of it is a major stress source for pastors, but people who support the church financially have more skin in the game and tend to be more committed members. Committed members who have a healthy relationship with money make pastors happy.
Pray for Your Pastor
The need, covet and deeply appreciate your payers.
As we lean in to Lent, know that your church leaders are working hard to encourage you along your spiritual journey while also trying to nurture their own. Wishing all a blessed Lenten season.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer is an online, inclusive and progressive Christian community. Follow us on Facebook and get emails to keep up with all that is happening.