9 Ways to Encourage Your Preacher

3 reasons to encourage anyone

I received this email from a preacher friend: Could you answer the following questions for me in order to assist me with a sermon this week. We’re doing a “Church Growth” series – and the next lesson is on Ministerial Renewal. Perhaps my answers to him would provide a “mustard seed” of how to encourage your preacher (and others).

What are some ways members can encourage and support their ministers?

  1. Sincere, spaced, specific compliments.
  2. Sincere, metered, kind criticism.
  3. Consistent, accurate communication about what you want, when you want it, and what you don’t want. Some people want visits when they’re sick, others don’t. Some people want their names in the bulletin for sickness, deaths, and weddings, others don’t.
  4. Extend grace. When your preacher forgets or makes a mistake, communicate when it’s helpful and important. However, an occasional slip doesn’t merit an emotional explosion.
  5. Especially when you have a criticism, talk to your preacher — not about your preacher. Don’t tattle to the elders about shortcomings of your preacher until you’ve talked with him first (Matthew 18:15). Then, if you need to involve the elders, let him know and suggest he invite a trusted person to set in on the meeting. Make the purpose of the meeting help and not hurt (Matthew 18:16). [tweetthis]Don’t tattle 2 the elders about shortcomings of your preacher until you’ve talked with him 1st (Matthew 18:15).[/tweetthis]
  6. Invite him and his family for a meal. When people do that, without an agenda, it feels like a mini-vacation — a time to rest, relax, and recharge. Especially refreshing to me: people who have treated me like a normal human being, Jerrie, not just “the preacher.”
  7. Give him awards and parties. I’ve asked many people why their companies waste money on pins, plaques, cruises, and certificates. They tell me the company isn’t wasting money — it’s an investment in their encouragement and growth. I ask, “I wonder if that works with preachers?”. It does. Many have done that for me and I’m encouraged.
  8. Give an extended (three-month) sabbatical every seven years. One of the easiest, most economical ways to get a good new preacher is to give your old preacher a planned extended rest. He can come back a renewed preacher without paying a moving company and negotiating a higher salary with a different preacher who doesn’t know the congregation. This was the most valuable gift in my years of preaching. Trade Your Preacher for a Better One
  9. Encourage and assist in short periods of intense, isolated study. I’ve done this on several occasions. It’s amazing what I can do in five days in a remote place with nothing to do but think, pray, read, and study. Some of my most used and helpful sermons and series have come out of these focused times of retreat and study.

Why is it important for members to encourage and support their ministers (all servants — not just preachers)?

  1. Courage wears out. Unless many people are encouraged, they will become discouraged and “weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Encouragement helps the encourager as well as the encouraged.
  3. It’s a part of “bearing one another’s burdens” and fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). [tweetthis]Encouragement helps the encourager as well as the encouragee.[/tweetthis]

What Bible examples do you see where ministers were encouraged and supported?

  • God told Moses to encourage Joshua. Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28
  • Moses encouraged Joshua in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 31:7
  • Moses encouraged Joshua. Deuteronomy 31:23
  • The Lord encouraged Joshua. Joshua 1:7
  • Joshua encouraged others. Joshua 10:25

The encouragee has become the encourager.

What encourages you? How have you encouraged others?
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14 thoughts on “9 Ways to Encourage Your Preacher

    • But there are some who will send a case — or other unusual things that are greatly encouraging. And that keeps us going! Thank you for commenting and being one of those constant encouragers.

  1. Jerrie, you’ve hit a nerve. I would add that sometimes a preacher needs to ask for encouragement otherwise he may not get it or may not be getting it. Excellent article. Thanks.

    • Travis,

      I’ve tried wishing without asking, hinting, and asking. The third has produced the best results and taught others the need and value of encouragement.

      Thank your for being a constant encouragement — even in your sickness.

      I continue to pray for you.

  2. Jerrie, you are an encouragment to talk with, and your material is spot on. The congregation “needs” to be aware of the Preachers “needs.”. I got that from you…by the way! After 30 yrs..I am getting bolder in that approach. Not where I would like to be, but progressing. I preached a “moving” sermon last week….and I am still here. So all is good. I am going to tell the “men” of what I believe my wife and I both “need” at m y evaluation meeting…can’t wait. I evaluate them all ther time, so I guess it is theri turn. . Thanks for your insight, and may our Lord Bless you as you have been a blessing to so many of us.

  3. There are numerous things people do that encourages me, and all are appreciated. We all need encouragement, and we all need to give it pretty much in the same way we would hope to get it. You know that, “treat people like you want to be treated” verse. Taking a different slant I would like to suggest that we need to learn how to encourage ourselves as well. The Bible speaks of this in numbers ways: “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (I Samuel 30:6). We can encourage ourselves through prayer and by having a thankful heart. (Philippians 4:6 I Thess. 5:18). We encourage ourselves by “casting our cares on him” (I Peter 5:7) instead of trying to handle it all on our own. Listening to good advice is a way to encourage ourselves. (Proverbs 19:20) Practicing patience is another way to encourage ourselves. (Isaiah 40:31). The list goes on and on in Scripture concerning self-encouragement. I find that I’m most discouraged when I’m frustrated or disappointed because no one is encouraging me. Getting the attention off of self, and onto Christ and others is the best way to encourage myself. The way I try to encourage others is by looking for opportunities to give the same encouragement to others that I feel a need for myself. Thanks Jerry!

  4. Jerrie, I had a lengthy conversation with a preacher just yesterday who’s very discouraged. I’ve forwarded this info to him and suggested he talk to his elders about some of these items. Thanks for your work!

  5. Wonderful post and great points on how to encourage preachers. Well done. Week after week preachers give encouragement, support and guidance to others. If what he is giving is not replenished, he will soon run dry. I’ve been blessed with some tremendous “Barnabas” Christians over the years who helped encourage me from week to week. They have inspired me to keep working for God, affirming that good is being done each day. Thank you for being one of my encouragers!

    • Mike,

      Thank you for your response.

      Your constant availability and willingness to help supported me in my first weeks using PowerPoint.

      It is great to have people who teach us and hold up our hands!

  6. As a youth minister for several years number 5 really means a lot to me. If we would simply communicate directly with one another a great many bumps in the road would ever become mountains. As I tell folks who do follow this principle, and are fearful how I will handle the confrontation, “we aren’t having a confrontation, we are having a conversation.” Sadly, I have come to believe some well meaning, good hearted, folks feel that a salaried employee does not fall under the teachings of Matthew 18. However I also know it is possible to change that with loving biblical teaching.

    • You are correct. Matthew 18:15 does’t have an exception clause to “go to your brother ALONE, unless he is a preacher, youth minister, running for deacon or elder — then you can sign a scriptural objection and we won’t ever tell who objected).” Matthew 18:15 is RED in my Bible — just like Mark 16:16, and just as easy to understand — as we tell our religious friends about Mark 16:16. But it’s just as hard for many of us to obey Matthew 18:15 as it is for our friends to obey Mark 16:16.