I love those men and women who serve local churches. I love their commitment and sacrifice. And I wish I could do more to help them remain energized and encouraged.
In this post, I share the results of an informal Twitter poll where I asked pastors and church staff to share with me those areas of ministry that discouraged them most. My motivation for doing so is primarily my love and concern for these church leaders. It is my prayer that this awareness will encourage church members to be even more supportive of and prayerful for these leaders.
Here are the top ten sources of discouragement of pastors and church staff listed in order of frequency. Admittedly, there is overlap in some of these responses, but those who responded often made their own distinctions. A representative quote follows each category.
- Conflicts/complaining/murmuring. “I find myself physically exhausted at the end of the week just from dealing with naysayers. My problem is exacerbated by naysayers using social media as their outlets.”
- Lack of fruit and spiritual maturity in church members. “I invested two years of my life in him. But his life today is as carnal as it was two years ago.”
- Apathy. “The low level of commitment of so many of our members really discourages me. Sometimes I wonder if my ministry is making any kind of difference.”
- Church members who leave the church for seemingly silly or no reasons. “It breaks my heart to lose a church member just because we made a slight change in the times of worship services.”
- Expectations by members/lack of time. “It seems like I am expected to be omnipresent. I just can’t keep up with all the expectations of me.”
- Performing tasks where the pastor/staff does not have competencies. “I know nothing about finances. I am not a good administrator. But both functions consume my time.”
- Meetings/committees. “I would rather get my teeth drilled than go to our monthly business meetings. It’s nothing more than a forum for complainers and whiners.”
- Family concerns. “The attacks on my wife for no good reasons have caused me to get my resume out. I can’t stay any longer.”
- Staff issues. “Every day at the church is stressful because of staff conflict.”
- Lack of volunteers. “So many church members seek their own preferences, but are unwilling to serve others.”
Some of the other sources of discouragement that did not make the list but had multiple votes are: loneliness; communication problems; members who hold tenaciously to tradition; divorce/family problems among church members; low pay; and counseling.
Please pray for your pastor and staff. They are under attack consistently. They not only need your prayers; they need your clear and consistent encouragement.
What do you think of these sources of discouragement? What would you add? Let me hear from you.
Posted on November 12, 2014
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom
One of the things I find discouraging is that some members want us to be omniscient as well as omnipresent. I co-pastor two congregations with another pastor, so it is difficult to keep track of everyone. I have had members complain that I failed to ask about their ailing parent, or didn’t call about their child’s surgery even though the member failed to inform either pastor or church. I’ve had a member tell others that her husband wasn’t coming to church because he was waiting for me to call him about something that upset him. If no one tells me about these things, how can I respond? What discourages me the most is that I WANT to hear from members because I care about them. But I also am discouraged that these kinds of comments usually make their way to the Personnel Committee before I hear about them. Pastors would appreciate the opportunity to at least be notified directly about events in people’s lives.