Executive Director of Church Strengthening, Converge Great Lakes
Church & pastoral health
A number of years ago, I attended an event for pastoral care-type folks called Care Givers Forum, a national gathering of those who give care to pastors. During one breakout, the facilitator passed around this picture. Now, you have to understand, I hate heights. I saw a TV show on the Canadian National Tower in Toronto, and I had to sit down when they showed the view from the top (and straight down!). Seeing that workman "out on the edge" attached by nothing more than a rope got me a little woozy. Hopefully for him, the rope was firmly attached somewhere. Then he asked a simple question - "Who's holding your rope?"
That's a pretty good question, especially for pastors. We're in perilous times these days; ministry has never been more stressful in America. Questions that shouldn't even be questions are tying churches in knots. Pastors are trying to move their churches forward when many people "just want to go back to Egypt" (like it was in the good old days). Barna suggests that right now, 1 in 5 pastors are actively looking for a way out of ministry. One study suggests that 1700 pastors a month are leaving ministry. So I ask... "who's holding your rope"?
That's a good question, notwithstanding whichever end of the rope you're on. Pastors, do you have a close friend or confident with whom you can say anything? Admittedly, they can be hard to find, but that is a relationship that needs to be cultivated. We're not talking about an accountability partner, we're talking about a foxhole buddy. Someone who's seen the fight and understands, and can just "be there" in silence if necessary. Sometimes, when working that far out, we can slip. Sometimes, we just want to throw ourselves over the edge and say "To heck with it all". That's when you need to know, "My rope is secure".
How about the other end of the rope? Are you there for your pastor? Do you share in the vision God gave him for the church? Can he count on you, no matter what? Maybe before embarking on the next round of "Mask/No Mask?", ask, "What does this have to do with the Gospel and the Kingdom? It can also be as simple as asking, "Pastor, how are you doing?"
The "experts" tell us to be prepared for a wave of pastoral resignations and/or burnouts when the pandemic pressure ends. At Converge, we don't want that! As a pastor, if you're at the "end of your rope", give us a call. We have resources, ideas, and more importantly, listening ears and caring hearts. Maybe we can help you make sure your rope is secure. Because without that rope, it's a long way down!
Gary Harrison, Executive Director of Church Strengthening, Converge Great Lakes
Gary is the Executive Director of Church Strengthening for Converge Great Lakes.