I am so blessed. I am in my 13th year as senior pastor of the 1st United Methodist Church of Sapulpa and I serve a wonderful congregation. I have known this for years but this truth was made evident once again this past Sunday as they surprised me (and my family) with a Pastor's Appreciation Day celebration. Cake, balloons, an office door covered with notes, a wall display of art work done by the children of the church, numerous greeting cards (many with personal notes of appreciation) and a love offering, were all apart of this wonderful day. I know that I am truly fortunate to serve such and amazing congregation. But I am also aware that there are many pastors today, all across our land, who are tired, stressed, and struggling because of the stress and conflict that the work of ministry sometimes brings...
The covid pandemic was a tremendous blow for many churches: worship services were shut down, financial contributions dropped off, programs came to a halt. Even after the pandemic began to "ease up" many congregants were slow to return. Many congregations, even today, report that they have only about 65% of the participation strength they once enjoyed. The result has been a very difficult season for many churches and pastors.
Along with this, some denominations (I think of the United Methodist Church in particular) have now come to the point of division and strife due to changing cultural issues, changes in worship styles, and overall direction and vision. Many churches are experiencing "church splits" or painful separations, as they try to find their way forward. Again, for pastors the stress of working through a "discernment process" or dealing with a church in crisis, is enormous. The result is that every day hundreds of pastor's are "giving up" and leaving the ministry for new occupations. One study indicates that 38% of the pastors in American are now considering leaving the ministry. This is largely due to two key factors: exhaustion and discouragement.
So I simply share with you: if you did not do something special for your pastor during the month of October, it is still not too late. There are still several days left in Pastor's Appreciation Month. And if you can't share the appreciation you want to express by the end of October, I'll bet your pastor will still be delighted to receive your encouragement in November as well.
"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." (Proverbs 25:12)
Please remember to share a "good word" with your pastor today! Believe me, it will be appreciated.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.