5 Pastoral Emergencies That Aren’t Emergencies

Responding to every emergency just doesn’t scale.

The good news is that pastoral care is something that can be scaled to help your church reach hundreds, and even thousands, of new families. I address this issue comprehensively in my new course, Breaking 200 Without Breaking You (click here if you want to learn more). But what do you do in the meantime with the seemingly endless emergencies? One step you can take is to decide whether something is actually an emergency.

 

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you know the challenge of trying to move the mission forward and handle the pastoral needs of a congregation at the same time.

One of the most perplexing problems pastors and church leaders face is how to handle ‘pastoral emergencies’—the crises that come up in the lives of people that they look to you to help solve.

The challenge in many churches is that more people = more crises.

This dynamic stresses many pastors out, and it’s hard to know what to do. You’re working on your sermon or some long-term planning and your phone buzzes, letting you know that someone just got admitted to hospital or that a couple needs to see you NOW for marriage counseling.

What do you do?

Most leaders respond immediately to the need (because we’re pastors, after all). And that leaves the sermon prep or project to the next day.

Which also gets interrupted by a new crisis. Which moves your work to the evening, or the weekend, or into family time. And soon, you only write your sermons on Saturday night.

The Pastoral Care Trilemma

And this is what breaks many church leaders.

Eventually, you just can’t keep up. And, predictably, three things happen:

  1. You get completely overwhelmed, and maybe even burnout.
  2. The congregation gets upset with you because you’re not as responsive as you used to be when the church was smaller.
  3. The church stops growing, because few human beings can sustain that level of pastoral care beyond 200 attenders, and many burn out trying (see point 1).

What seemed manageable when your church was just starting or was smaller,  feels completely out of control as your church pushes 150, 200 or 300 in weekend attendance.

Responding to every emergency just doesn’t scale.

The good news is that pastoral care is something that can be scaled to help your church reach hundreds, and even thousands, of new families.

I address this issue comprehensively in my new course, Breaking 200 Without Breaking You (click here if you want to learn more).

But what do you do in the meantime with the seemingly endless emergencies?

One step you can take is to decide whether something is actually an emergency.

Just because it’s an emergency to them doesn’t mean it has to be an emergency for you.

While there are some pastoral emergencies that are true emergencies, here are 5 pastoral emergencies that may not be.

1. Marriage Breakdown

We’ve all received calls where someone needs to see you right now because their marriage is in trouble.

The pain is real, and I’m sure they feel like it’s a five-alarm fire.

But the reality is that their marriage didn’t go bad overnight. In fact, it’s likely been bad for months, or maybe years.

You can easily set an appointment to meet with the couple at a time that works for you.

Read More