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Question and Answer

Caring for the Pastor


I currently attend a church where around 60% of our membership are college students. As you can see, we are a very young congregation. My pastor is the sole teaching elder with no ruling elders. I am just a member who prays daily for him and his ministry, but feel as if I can do more. I just don't know exactly how to go about it.

I read the article Taking Care of Your Pastor in Ordained Servant. Can you give me some counsel and practical advice for a member to initiate a more deliberate way in which to care for and love our pastor in his immense responsibilities as the sole elder in the size and nature of our church plant?


Thanks for your question. Is your church still in the unorganized state? Is that why you don't have ruling elders? The article in Ordained Servant was directed to ruling elders. But that doesn't mean that because you are not an elder there's nothing you can do to ease the heavy load he carries.

The things I suggested at the end of that article would have to be officially established—elders caring for pastors. It would not be proper for you to try to set up some organized oversight or care. So I suggest these things:

Ask him if there are any tasks you can do that will free him from tasks that do not involve his ministerial qualifications. Leave it to him to decide what you could best do to be of real help. Does he have anyone who can type up the bulletins? Does he have someone to run the public address system in your worship services? (Probably he does, but that is a job for someone to do). How about taking care of recording his sermons and making copies for taking to shut-ins? Those are a few suggestions.

The greatest help one can give his pastor is to support him in prayer (which is what I'm sure you do already). But you might volunteer to pray for things he is concerned about. And if he takes you into his confidence and asks you to pray for some particular need or difficulty, tell it to the Lord. Don't tell it to anyone else. As you become a prayer warrior, he may begin to confide in you. But don't "share" such things with anyone but the Lord!

I gather that this matter is something deep in you. Be careful not to force yourself on him, but make your desire known to him and let him respond as he thinks best.

Tell him when you've been blessed by his preaching. I know of congregations that are quick to criticize their pastors, but would never be caught dead telling him that they appreciate his messages. If something in the sermon strikes you as a great help to your soul, tell him specifically what gave your heart a lift. But be careful; don't overdo it! Avoid what we called it while we were young—being "apple polishers." You do these things to encourage him, not to make him feel good.

Of course you may be of use in the congregation. Have you ever gotten a group of students together to discuss his sermons? If you take notes or can get taped copies of his sermons, you could get two or three or more young people together, with open Bibles, and discuss the sermon, not to criticize but to dig deeper. Serious questions may come out of your study that you can take to him for answers.

Of course such would not be officially a part of the church's calendar. And, if you get something like that going, let him know about it. He may have some suggestions. But the youthful age of your congregation may be able to use this sort of thing. If they are mostly students, they won't be with you for long. Pray and do what you can to see to it that they go away stronger Christians than they were when they came.

One more thing: Do you have gifts that you believe can be useful to your church? Pray that you may do whatever you are asked to do thoroughly and cheerfully. The following is not new with me, but I think it is a good thing always to remember: Do not try to make room for your gifts, but let your gifts make room for you.

So do whatever you do well, and do it for the Lord. If people notice, thank them, but if they take it for granted and you do it well, remember, you are ultimately serving Christ, not people. And in your heart you know that the job was done well and that you will get your reward in heaven when He will say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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