Thom S. Rainer: 10 Common Pastoral Care Challenges

Most pastors are amazing. I am honored to serve them, and my appreciation for pastors grows every day.

For example, I recently conducted a social media survey where I asked pastors to share their most common pastoral care challenges. The volume of responses was huge, a very impressive number. But even more impressive were the stories of love and concern these pastors have for their congregations. They want to care for them. They want the best for them. They want to help ease their pains.

So, for the most part, the challenges are not the members themselves, but the capacity to meet all the pastoral needs members have. Here are how the pastors expressed ten of their greatest pastoral care challenges.

  • Time. The pastoral care needs are always greater than the time available to meet those needs. A number of pastors expressed the tensions of meeting the needs of their own families while trying to meet the needs of the church members.
  • Expectations. It doesn’t take a new pastor long to discover you can’t meet all the expectations of church members for pastoral care. Pastors always disappoint someone. They typically get criticized for not meeting needs. It is a burden and frustration for these church leaders.
  • Emotional fatigue. Pastors see a lot of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs. They see the deepest pains and the direst situations. They are often unable to detach from the hurt they see almost every day.
  • The fix-it syndrome. Many pastors are fixers by nature and personality. But many pastoral care situations defy fixing, at least in the short-term. Pastors, as a consequence, feel both frustrated and hopeless.
  • Dealing with toxic members. One pastor told me that half his week is spent dealing with toxic church members and the church members hurt by the toxic people. Pastoral care of this nature has little reward to it.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer