October is Pastor Appreciation Month, with Sunday, October 8th Clergy Appreciation Day. We are thankful for all those who serve the Lord in this vocation.
Responding to God’s call into ministry is not an easy path for anyone, but especially since the pandemic began. The Hartford Institute for Religious Research conducted a survey in 2021 and learned that 68% of pastors reported that 2021 was their hardest year in ministry ever. Barna Group learned in 2021 that 38% of pastors had considered quitting full-time ministry. 90% of clergy report working between 55-75 hours per week. 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the demands of the job, and 80% of seminary and Bible college graduates will leave the ministry within the first five years of the job.
There is no such thing as the perfect pastor. There are at times theological disagreements, differences over priorities among church leaders, and sometimes just plain personality conflicts between pastors and church members. A healthy Pastoral Relations Committee that meets regularly (not just when conflict arises) can help navigate those issues and provide space for clergy within congregations to share their struggles and receive support from the church. If we remember that we all serve a mighty God and are partners in ministry together, grace and humility can enter in. The Regional Office can provide support and guidance for a Pastoral Relations Committee to serve both the church and pastor.
I invite you this month to show your appreciation for pastors, chaplains, and other ministerial leaders in your life. Write them a note to let them know you are praying for them or send a card. This is a time when you can look to the gifts God has given them and share your appreciation, even if you do not always agree.
Happy Pastor Appreciation Month to all our clergy!
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell