The Healthy Church Initiative was born out of our love for churches
and church leaders. After many years of doing this work, we have seen firsthand
some of the unique challenges that pastors face.
The first and most common challenge is that many pastors are overworked. From sermon preparation to hospital visitation, they are simply spread too thin. Meeting the needs of the congregation often means that the pastor neglects his own needs. This is usually unsustainable and can lead to burnout and, ultimately, a loss of effectiveness.
The second challenge is that many pastors feel isolated. They bear the burdens of ministry with too little support from others because they fear that being candid about their struggles will undermine their standing as leaders. We believe that this contributes to the high rate of pastoral burnout in the modern church, which is destructive for pastors, the congregations they lead and, ultimately, the Kingdom.
The third challenge is that many pastors live with a sense of insecurity about maintaining their ministry positions. They know that if they make the wrong person or family angry, they’re one heated business meeting from being fired. The very practical fear of being unemployed causes some pastors to avoid conflict at all costs—even when doing so feels like a betrayal of their calling. It is the ultimate no-win scenario.
So what can a handful of lawyers do to help pastors with these challenges?
As it turns out, there are several things.
First, through the Healthy Church Initiative, we help churches strengthen their organizational structures. And in a well-organized church, it is more likely that ministries responsibilities are distributed among leaders and members so that the pastor isn’t carrying an excessive load.
Second, one of the goals of an HCI engagement is to put in place a level of protection for pastors that allow them to lead without fear of being cast aside for making difficult decisions and having hard conversations. We have seen this aspect of our work make a huge difference.
Third, when we are working through an HCI Engagement, the pastor is usually our primary contact. We often develop supportive relationships with pastors that allow us to serve as a trusted confidantes. Because we are accustomed to dealing with confidential matters, pastors know that they can speak candidly without fear of damaging disclosures. You might say that we have the privilege of coming alongside church leaders and living out the command to bear one another’s burdens.
We have found the opportunity to bless pastors with encouragement so fulfilling that we decided to formally include this as our newest service, something we are calling “Pastor Support.” As a practical matter, our Pastor Support service can take a variety of forms, including:
- A telephone conversation between one of us and the pastor;
- A Zoom or FaceTime conference between one of us and the pastor;
- A cup of coffee with the pastor at the Schuette Law Group office; or
- A meal with a pastor at one of Bowling Green’s many excellent restaurants or, best of all, a meal at the home of one of our attorneys.
This is a free service. Our priority is to create opportunities to help pastors who may be struggling with the burdens of ministry. We strive to offer Biblically-sound encouragement in a safe and confidential setting. Few things could better accomplish the purposes of the Healthy Church Initiative.