Love Your Flock
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).
How can a pastor demonstrate his love for his congregation? Of course we should preach good sermons, lead good services, provide good ministries, love our own families, and care about the integrity of our ministry. By doing all of these things, you may be tempted to think that your church knows that you love them. But if you are intentional about showing them and telling them, then over time you will teach your people how to love and some of them will teach you, too. Here are some of the ways that I seek to do that.
1. Make yourself available on Sunday.
Arrive early and be available to greet and talk with people—before the service starts and long after it is over. If you can, show up in the nursery, children’s classes, and other ministry areas in order to thank, encourage, pray for, and listen in to what is going on.
There are many times when I am peeking in on some of the classes that I hear a teacher say something that I can reference later on in a sermon, which reinforces what was taught and is hugely encouraging to that teacher. Tell them that you are available to talk with them, as many will “not want to bother you.” Eventually, if you say it enough, they’ll be convinced that you really do want to talk with them.
2. Ask for prayer requests, pray for them, and follow up.
We provide a prayer request tear-off tab in the bulletin that people can fill out every Sunday and drop in the offering plate or turn in.
3. Send birthday cards and anniversary cards.
Every year I write new birthday cards and anniversary cards for the members. We print our own, and I sign them as being from my wife and me.
4. Send baby congratulations and sympathy cards.
5. Mark the dates of loss and let them know that you remember.
When a death occurs in a family that I know is a difficult loss, I will mark that on my calendar and the next year (and often many years after), I will text them or e-mail them on the anniversary of that day and let them know I am praying for them.
6. Visit them in the hospital.
7. Go to sporting events, plays, and other things your people are involved in.
8. Have people into your home and cook for them.
My wife is an incredible cook, but if I can make at least one dish for the people we are hosting, or contribute something to the meal that we are taking to a family, it is really appreciated. I’ve learned how to bake bread, make ice cream, be very handy with the grill, and even make special pancakes.
9. When invited, go to their homes and eat with them.
10. If a child draws you a picture, put it on your door so that you can pray for them.
11. Tell them you love them.
Of all of the things that I have done to express love to my congregation, the one thing that seems to be appreciated the most is when I simply tell them how much I love them. I do not do it every Sunday, but I really should. Some of my people have told me that this was the only time they have heard someone tell them there were loved in a very long time.
Of all the places where people should hear that they are loved, they should hear it in the church—especially from their pastor.