In light of all that has been recently happening in the Anglican world, how can we encourage our preachers, those who pastor us and are holding to their ordination promises to shepherd the flock of God that is in their care?
What we are about to share as ministry wives is perhaps un-revolutionary; indeed, all of us may have heard it all before in various formats. But we are good at forgetting – and perhaps you are too!
So here are seven ideas to try, to invite others in your church to try with you, to ask your pastor about in whichever context you are in. There will be more, we’re sure, so this is not intended to be an exhaustive list!
- Pray for your pastor: that they would proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly, as they should (Col 4:4); that God would by his power bring to fruition their every desire for goodness and their every deed prompted by faith (2 Thess 1:11); that they would have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5ff)… the list is endless of the things we can pray for our pastors. And they really do need our prayers – shepherding the flock is not for the faint-hearted. [Note to selves: pray some of these prayers for our pastors]
- Sit up the front. There are many great reasons for sitting up the front: the long-suffering ushers of every parish church on earth since Jesus’ ascension have been encouraging us all to sit up the front to leave room for the more timid visitors or latecomers who generally wish to slip in unobtrusively. But additionally, there’s less distraction when most of the congregation is sitting behind you instead of in front of you. Another big reason to sit up the front is so you can…
- Smile at your preacher! Use your body language to indicate that you’re listening, that you appreciate how much labour the preacher has put into the sermon, that you’re wanting to hear the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, through what the preacher is saying.
- Take notes during the sermon. You might be the sort of person who just likes to listen. If that’s the case, you could listen out for the one verse, or the one phrase the preacher says that strikes you, or resonates with you, or speaks to your heart, or cuts you to the heart – and write that down. Share it with someone afterwards. You will be a better listener, not to mention a better encourager, for it.
- Read through the sermon passage ahead of time – you will listen better, and you might have questions you can follow up with afterwards. This leads into the next suggestion…
- Ask the preacher about the sermon. You could aim to share something you have been encouraged/challenged by each week. If you miss seeing the minister in person after the service then emailing through the week is helpful, especially as they think ahead to the following week.
- Similarly, speak to others in the congregation about the passage. For a preacher, overhearing people referring back to the sermon or the passage at different points is encouraging.
For further ideas, Jane Tooher at Moore College has a wealth of suggestions in this video that she has kindly given permission for us to share.