It’s October! Breast Cancer awareness, pumpkin everything, and clergy appreciation month. We have turned this month into one weird concoction. Clergy appreciation month started back in the early 1990s and it was originally a Hallmark holiday. Yet, It has come to be celebrated more widely in the United States.
Clergy appreciation month is an opportunity for congregations across America to take a moment and recognize their pastors’ efforts throughout the year. Some congregations go to elaborate lengths with gifts and breakfast. Some offer simple expressions of thanksgiving with cards and words of appreciation. As a pastor for nearly ten years, I can honestly say that prayer is one of the most valuable gifts you could give this month. We each have our own “love language”, but prayer is something we all need and welcome.
So how do you pray for your pastor? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Pray for your pastor’s emotional/mental health
Your pastor sits with people who are experiencing life’s highs and lows. We will experience in one year what most people don’t experience in a lifetime. You may think we have no clue about the real world. But we actually know all too well. We have sat with families who have experienced death, divorce, marriage, birth, loss of a child, loss of a job, loss of a home. We have visited people in prison, the hospital, and the psych unit. Many of us experience financial pressure, especially when the church finances are not doing well. And we do this while caring for our spouse, children, and congregations. It takes a toll on our emotional and mental well-being. Your prayers empower us to remain faithful.
Pray for your pastor’s physical health
The stress of our vocation takes a toll on our health. We have hero complexes that feel a need to rescue all of those in our path. Therefore, we forget to rest and take care of our own bodies. Pray for us to take our health seriously and for our hero complexes too. (don’t judge; you do it too)
Pray for your pastor’s finances
Finances are a stressor for many families and your pastor is no different. Many of us are bi-vocational. We work a side hustle to keep food on the table and allow us to take an occasional vacation. Pray God would bless us financially to do His work.
Pray for your pastor’s spiritual health
Your pastor NEEDS time with God and not simply to write the weekly message. We need time to meditate and rest in God’s presence. Your prayers sustain us in times when God seems silent. Although there is a call on our lives, we still have times of spiritual dryness. Pray for God to speak into our personal lives and not only for us to have something to say on Sundays.
Pray for your pastor’s sermon prep
Sundays come regularly…like every seven days. And we need to have something to say. It should be clever and powerful and true and full of life. It is easy to write a message that is clever, powerful, true, and full of life when you have 30 days to work on it. Most of us have about 8-10 hours to give to the preparation of the message. We need God’s wisdom and strength as well as His anointing each week.
Pray for your pastor’s marriage and children
If you and your spouse have young children and also work, then you know the struggle. It is a daily challenge to balance house, work, family, child care, laundry, etc. Pray for a strong marriage in the midst of life’s chaos. Pray for the children to find their own identity in the midst of ministry. And pray for love to abound within the home.
Pray for God to show you how you can serve in the church
You may think this is a weird request. However, your pastor needs volunteers. God did not design the Body of Christ to sit in the pews while the pastor does the work. We need volunteers who are on fire for God and willing to work along side of us. Ask God how and where you can serve. Be a leader and you will become a blessing to your pastor.
Pray for God to raise up more leaders. Pray for your pastor’s leadership team
You pastor prays for you and the leaders of the church. But the leadership team needs your prayers too. Pray for unity, humility, and passion for the leadership team. Pray they would be single focused rather than divided. And pray for more workers for the harvest.
Pray for wisdom, leadership ability, and character
Everything threatens to beat your pastor down and slow the progress of the Kingdom. Satan does not want us to win! We need wisdom for each situation, especially the ones that come from seemingly nowhere. We also need you to pray for our leadership ability. We are always pushing the boundaries of our own skills and abilities. Pray for God to stretch us beyond our comfort zones so we can lead you along the journey of faith.
Pray for confidence, clarity, and communion
The enemy of our souls threatens your pastor regularly…or at least once a month when he/she has to report their denominational numbers. We have expectations to meet for our “job” just as most of you do. Each month most of us have to report to our denominations what God is doing in the local congregation. Those numbers threaten our confidence and sometimes cause us to question our vision. Pray for us to have clarity of God’s vision for us and the congregation. Pray for us to be confident that God is moving even when the numbers don’t reflect what we wish they would. And pray for us to have communion with other clergy who will support, encourage, and challenge us to be the ministers God created us to be.
Your prayers are able to move mountains! Please be faithful in the month of October to pray for us, especially as we are closing in on Advent and Christmas. We hope you will continue to pray for us throughout the year as well. Men and women of prayer are warriors for the Kingdom of God. Be strong and pray well!
Here we are again! Year 4 of our Cooper Elementary School Supply Drive!
We made a commitment to “make the neighborhood church relevant” in our community. Community matters. We watch out for one another. We encourage, challenge, and embrace one another. We seek to understand and be understood and allow room to navigate through the dark places.
Our school supply drive is one way we seek to encourage our community. You can read about it in more details here. This year, Kiekert Corp. participated in helping us break some records in our annual drive. We extend a special thanks to Scott X. Brown in coordinating the efforts at his place of employment.
So here are the results:
50 packs of pencils
50 glue sticks
7 reams of colored copy paper
6 packs of index cards
44 boxes of markers
46 boxes of colored pencils
35 boxes of crayons
6 pairs of scissors
22 ear buds
25 $10 Starbucks Gift Cards
Have the best school year ever!
Church planters come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. In the early days of planting our church, I read books upon books on the subject. A few of them attempted to describe the type of person who plants churches. The emphasis was upon their personality which leaned hard toward extrovert.
One of the books listed four basic types of church planters and intimated that the introverted person would be “least likely to succeed”. In similar fashion, some have tried to pigeon-hole certain strengths on the Strength Finders scale as “church planter” material. Personally, I am a strong I on the introvert scale and I possess none of the so-called church planter strengths.
As an introvert, sometimes I do wish I had the energy of my extrovert colleagues, but that is not how God created me. However, He did call me and equip me for such a task as this. My guess is God has called other introverts to plant churches as well. Here are seven tips I have found helpful in planting a church.
Schedule your people time
The introvert/extrovert personality trait is not about liking or disliking people. It is about how you spend your energy. Introverts spend energy when they are with people. Extroverts acquire energy when they are with people. Therefore, schedule your time with people in a way that you can afford to spend your energy. If you know you are going to spend a few hours with a group of people, then you need to take extra time alone to acquire the energy you need to spend.
I try very hard not to spend Saturday evenings out late with people. I know I will need that energy for Sunday morning. On the occasions when I need to be with people on Saturday evenings, I plan some alone or study time before hand.
Do tag-team outreach
Be intentional about your outreach teams. When we plan outreach events, I try to pair myself up with an extrovert. An extrovert helps me when I run out of small talk topics. They also enjoy talking which gives me a break and allows me to do what introverts do best: listen.
Create a list of conversation starters
One of the fastest ways to drain your energy is with small talk. Most of us introverts cannot talk trivia for very long. We do well with deep conversations and often find those energizing. I have created a list of conversation starters for different situations.
I have written out things I might say in common situations. For example, I have a list of different ways to introduce myself to new guests on Sunday morning. These are limited to 3-4 sentences/questions which I use repeatedly. These are new guests. They have no idea I use the same conversation starters with everyone.
I also have a list of questions to open up discussion. I use open-ended questions, rather than yes or no. If I can get them talking about themselves, then I am succeeding.
Establish a pattern
I hate talking to strangers. Most introverts do. I was recently at a conference with one of our church leaders who happen to be an extrovert (see tag-team above). We were there maybe five minutes and she was in a full blown conversation with someone she had never met. I think they had exchanged phone numbers within ten minutes of the conversation. Dear introvert, it’s not going to happen for us!
Instead, I have established patterns and routines that put me in places where people will approach me instead of me approaching them. All I have to do is smile and be approachable. Once I have established a pattern, I begin to feel more comfortable approaching them as well.
Utilize social media
If you’re an introvert and you’re not using social media…what is wrong with you? Social media is an introvert’s dream come true! You can connect with multiple people while actually accruing energy. Social media, email, and texting should be your top priority for communicating.
I also utilize sending notes and cards. People don’t send notes and cards anymore. Here you have an opportunity to touch someone in a unique way and it doesn’t require the energy level of a face-to-face conversation. Also, you can do it when you are thinking about the person. It lets them know they were on your mind.
As an introvert church planter, prayer has been a great resource. All church planters should be pray-ers. But more specifically, it’s what I pray for. When I spend time praying for specific people, God prepares their hearts for deeper conversation and introverts thrive on deep conversation.
In addition, I pray for God to bring people to me. I continually ask God to put people in my path who have a desire to know more about Him. One time I had been praying specifically for God to put a person in my path that day. In the afternoon, I went to the chiropractor. It was a new doctor and he knew very little about me. But, after the adjustment, he sat down and started asking me questions about God and faith.
Be patient and persistent
Extroverted church planters do typically have quicker results in reaching others. They like to talk and the more they are around people, the more energy they have to spend with people. Dear introvert, you have gifts and grace too. You have something to offer your community. You have faith, persistence, and a listening ear. Be patient with yourself and patient with the call. God has a plan to reach this world and it includes introverted church planters.