October 4, 2021
Christian bookstores and radio stations are reminding us that this is Pastor Appreciation Month in the church world. It stirs my heart to think intentionally about a few guys I appreciate more than one month a year. I continually have a deep appreciation for our NewPointe campus pastors. While I am the main communicator and vision-caster for our community of campuses, these are the vital people who shepherd and pastor the local churches and communities. They put a face on NewPointe and are the “first-responders” for us. Their work is vital to all of us, and as they lead the campus teams to bring the Good News to their communities, they are building the kingdom of God.
To appreciate means to “show recognition, value, and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” Who appreciates you? Even though you may not experience the appreciation and value you deserve and desire, you know how it feels and how it lifts and encourages you. It actually lifts US to show appreciation to others.
This month I want to encourage you to take the time to consider your campus pastor and give him the gift of appreciation. Think about his good qualities and what you value and enjoy about him. Then tangibly express it. A note that says, “Thanks for all you do” is good, but it’s even better if you can say, “Thank you for caring for us. It meant the world when you called us when we all had COVID.”
Leading is always challenging, particularly in a volunteer organization. Jack Welch, legendary CEO who led General Electric through two decades of extraordinary corporate prosperity and became the most influential business manager, has been heralded as the greatest business leader of his era. He said that without doubt, leading in the church was the most challenging and often the most under-appreciated leadership in the world. The fact that the leader has no financial or promotional leverage over anyone makes leading as in a typical business impossible. The followers will never be followers because of anything you can give them except Jesus and yourself. They can leave in a minute because there is always someone else happy to take them. The leader in the church is always second-guessed by people who have equal access to God, but often not equal access to the facts, so they have strong opinions that may not match reality, and because of the ethics necessary for character leadership, the pastor often cannot share those facts—he or she just has to take the criticism in stride without a defense.
Now to those everyday challenges with which Mr. Welch was acquainted, throw in COVID and the rippling issues. (He died March 1, 2020, right before we knew what was happening.) Everything is different. The stats are saying that church attendance overall is 36% of what it was pre-COVID. The majority of Gen Z members, the future of the church, prefer church online; only 41% say they plan to regularly attend in person again. Only 42% of millennials prefer in-person. However, 70% of boomers prefer in-person. That 30% gap makes leadership increasingly difficult. It’s clear there will be no return to “normal,” because normal has disappeared. Your pastors need prayer and encouragement as they work to connect primarily in new and very challenging ways. Recognize their value and let them know how much you enjoy their good qualities. My hat is off to these men and I’m praying for them.
In honor of their leadership I want to thank our campus pastors:
- Evan Greathouse, Cambridge
- Nate Alderfer, Canton
- Aaron Dowell, Coshocton
- Dave VanDonge, Dover
- Dan Wigton, Millersburg
- Jonathan Wood, Wooster
P.S. I also want to thank our NewPointe staff for all you do to connect with others and help others connect with God.