Training Your Church

If you don’t train your church to know which boundaries are appropriate, you likely won’t have many. If you are the senior pastor, you can set the tone publicly.

I’d suggest a few of the following:

Publicly communicate when your day off is. Talk about how important that day is to your family.

At appropriate times, explain the challenges of your schedule. Some people think you only work on Sundays. Explaining your weekly schedule will create understanding.

Create some level of screening, if possible. Even if you are a solo pastor with no staff, a volunteer could help you with your email or answer phones. Many things you do daily can be handled by capable volunteers. You don’t need to do everything nor do you need to be accessible to everyone.

Be willing to “go dark” at least once a year. You might explain to the church that you’ll be away with your family and not taking calls for a week. Ask your lay leader or associate pastor to be in charge. I’d suggest you give a phone number to one person who has permission to contact you with only dire emergencies. You need at least one week a year to disconnect.

Don’t feel pressure to reply to emails instantly. You might like to return every email you get, but don’t be a slave to them.

Protect at least one night a week for dates with your spouse or family nights. Explain that one night each week—Monday, Thursday, or whichever—is the night you protect. When someone asks for counseling or a wedding rehearsal on that night, don’t do it.

Be willing to say “no.” As a pastor who loves people, you’ll say “yes” to many invitations. Don’t be afraid to occasionally say “no.” Don’t feel pressure to give an explanation. A simple, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t make it” is enough.

Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the boundaries that will help you go the distance.

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