ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -– With Pastor Appreciation Month on the horizon, the North American Mission Board is providing laypeople with resources to encourage and support their churches' shepherds.
"NAMB's mission is to penetrate lostness in North America," NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. "Local pastors are the ones who lead churches to focus on that mission. We strongly encourage every local congregation to celebrate and affirm their pastors because we believe their role is critical in the expansion of the Kingdom."
Looking toward Pastor Appreciation Month, NAMB is encouraging churches to pick one Sunday in October -- or a Sunday in a different month if the schedule doesn't permit -- to lift up their pastors during a worship service.
At namb.net/honoring_pastors, NAMB is providing a variety of resources to help churches do this. Posters and bulletin inserts at the website share 50 practical specific ways lay leaders can lift up and "bless" their pastors and their families. The ideas range from encouraging a pastor's marriage and celebrating his children to supporting his ministry. Some of the ideas are activities for the entire church to do together while others are ministry ideas that a lay member or a family might do on their own.
Lay leaders additionally can find information at namb.net/honoring_pastors about planning a retreat for their pastor and his wife at Christian bed-and-breakfasts for a significant discount. Churches that choose to do this will have the opportunity to print out a gift certificate in a manner suitable for a formal presentation during a worship service.
NAMB is mailing churches information, addressed to its lay leaders, about how they can access the resources.
"Too many pastors are secretly struggling in their marriages," said Michael Lewis, NAMB's pastor for pastors. "We wanted to give churches an opportunity to do something that'll support their pastors and their families. A weekend getaway is a great opportunity for that."
NAMB also is providing Reboot Marriage and Reboot Spiritual Life apps that provide pastors with opportunities for self-guided date nights with their wives and self-guided spiritual retreats.
Lewis pointed to statistics from H.B. London's book "Pastors at Greater Risk" showing that a large number of pastors in a variety of denominations struggle to deal with job stress, family pressures and emotional issues. This must change, he said, in order for Southern Baptists to make a larger impact on North America.
Lewis referenced the support Aaron and Hurr provided Moses in Exodus 17 as exemplifying the significance of encouraging and supporting spiritual leaders.
"As the Israelites fought against the Amalekites, whenever Moses would lift his staff, the Israelites would prevail," Lewis said. "When he got tired, Aaron and Hurr put a stone under him so he could rest and lifted his arms when he needed help. Spiritual leaders today need people like that in their lives, people who love them, care for them and support them as they lead God's people to impact the world for Jesus."
The Pastor Appreciation Month resources are a part of NAMB's larger effort to connect with and encourage Southern Baptist pastors. Lewis became the Southern Baptist entity's first "pastor for pastors" in February. Since then his efforts have focused on helping pastors in their relationships with God, their families and their peers.
On namb.net/pastorforpastors, church leaders can also find information about Pastors-in-Covenant groups, Galatians 6:6 retreats for ministers and their wives, Church Renewal Journey, church revitalization, the www.flourish.me ministers' wives community and more.