Ministry is a hard gig, and it’s becoming more and more complex. Human resource consultants Meryem and Greg Brown suggest five ways that congregations can ease the daily burden.
Many ministers spend a lot more time than they should sorting out personality issues and resolving petty conflicts. We call our ministers to train and teach and equip us. Let them do what we called them to do.
Share the load
Sometimes it looks like we pay the minister to be good and the people are good for nothing. Our Basis of Union affirms that we are all gifted for ministry and calls on us to use those gifts. When we moved towns and visited our local church for the first time, we introduced ourselves to the minister (the late Rev Col Warren), informing him of our intention of joining the congregation. His response was “Let us know what your gifts are. We don’t like people sitting on their backsides here”. We need to build a culture of lay ownership of ministry.
Insist on self-care
We will all be the beneficiaries if our ministers take the leave they are entitled to as well as regularly accessing Continuing Education for Ministry, personal and professional development, mentors, spiritual direction, professional supervision, spiritual retreats etc. Give them the space to do these activities and where possible, budget for this.
Develop a feedback loop
Our ministers need to hear what is going well and what needs improvement. Some churches have a small representative group which meets periodically with the minister for a constructive conversation about how the church is going.
Be family friendly
Don’t have unhealthy expectations of your minister being available 24/7. Ministers with a family need to be able to make family life a priority. The church’s program should enable them to do that. Minimise committee meetings; streamline decision-making. Unmarried clergy—often seen as being more available—actually need more time than married clergy to build lifestyle balance.
Synergia works with churches and organisations in leadership support, professional development and congregational health. synergiahr.com.au