Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


January 22, 2012 - Vol 6, Issue 1


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Articles in this Issue
Presbytery Structures and Financial Realities
New Forms of Ministry
Pressures on Pastor's Family
Board Members Reflect
More Topics of Interest

PPCN Mission

Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its


 helping others logo



PPCN  Board

Dan Corll, President

Pittsburgh Presbytery


Joe Sandifer, Vice President

Presbytery of Greater Atlanta


Carol Allen, Secretary

Chicago Presbytery


Alan Baroody, Treasurer

Savannah Presbytery


Melanie Hancock

Presbytery of Northern Kansas 


Steve McCutchan, Newsletter Editor

Salem Presbytery


Christine Sage

Pacific Presbytery


Lou Snead

Mission Presbytery


Gary Weaver 

Presbytery of Pueblo



Denominational Advisors:

Marcia Meyers


Office of Vocation, PC(USA)


Helen Locklear

Board of Pensions, PC(USA)


Powerpoint Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations
Flash drives containing the Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations powerpoint program and expanded script and updated Toolbox are available for $40.   Contact Steve McCutchan.


Deep Well CD Front Cover 

A Deep Well for the Pastor:  Spiritual meditations & music to support the  pastoral vocation.  Price: $10 

To Order: Call Presbyterian  Distribution Center

Ph. 1-800-524-2612

Ask for OGA-08-099


Laughter from the Well CD 

CD Offering 70 minutes of humorous and musical reflections on the challenges of ministry.  Price $15.99

 Order here





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The Board will meet in February and shortly thereafter will release details about the Fall 2012 conference.  Watch for the next edition of this Newsletter, and keep checking the website.    
As the new year quickly moves along, I encourage you to attend to God's magnificent creation--you!  Take the initiative to develop and expand meaningful relationships. Engage with others for worship, recreation, adventure, and duty.  Balance your time, as best as you can, for body, mind, and soul.  Discover or develop a new skill, ability, or strength.  Thank God for what you've been given to do--whatever it may be--with gusto, zeal and joy.  Be aware of strengths and support around you.  Ask for help, if need be.  It's ok.   Enjoy a good meal.  Laugh.

Dan Corll 

Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


Presbyteries are facing economic challenges that are forcing them to look at their restructuring. Do they return to the pre-WWII minimal staff or are there other ways for them to provide the connectional possibilities that build on the strength of our theology and prevent us from becoming a fractionalized witness?


As we face financial challenges, we need to explore the alternatives for presbyteries as they face the future. As a start to our conversation, consider four alternatives for our future.


1. Presbyteries can try to communicate better with the churches about the importance of their work and seek more financial support. It is important to communicate what will be lost if we weaken the connectional system or if we can no longer afford to pay for an adequate staff.


2. We can cut staff back to the minimum. In a sense we would be returning to the pre-WWII days when much of presbytery's work centered around gate keeping - bringing pastors in and helping them leave. Presbytery also had a role at times of conflict to mediate between congregation and pastor. If we take this approach, it will require a significant redefinition of the roles and expectations of presbytery staff.  


3. We can identify some of the small churches who cannot afford a full time pastor and work with them in a shared call between the church and the work of the presbytery. This holds some significant benefits for these small churches because they would be getting a high quality person to serve them on a steady basis. A challenge would be to be very intentional about the blocks of time allotted to the church, the presbytery, and personal time.


4. We can build on the success of the certified lay pastor program and look for some gifted retired folk who would see their work as pastor to the connectional work of the church. One CLP might see their ministry in working with presbytery youth programs, mission trips, and multi-church workshops to strengthen the educational ministry of our churches. Another CLP might help churches explore how they can work together in disaster relief, adult mission trips, prison ministries, work on college campuses, etc. A third CLP might focus on drawing together small group support for clergy and identifying topics where they can pool their educational money to bring in experts that interest them. A fourth ClP could work with the issues that are part of the work of the Committee on Ministry, Committee for Preparation for Ministry, etc. The possibilities are endless.   


Are there other creative responses to our new situation? Let us continue the conversation.


Back in the 60s, professor Bill Webber at Union Seminary in NY, offered his 10-10-10 plan for a vital Christian community. In those days, a $10,000 salary was a livable wage. He suggested that if you found ten families who had an income of ten thousand dollars and each of them tithed, then you had a salary for the pastor of ten thousand dollars. If s/he tithed that left you one thousand dollars for programing for your community of faith. While the math doesn't work out today, the point is that the future of the church community and its theological leadership rests on the biblical faithfulness of a small group of disciples, as it did from the beginning.


We are clearly going through a major transformation of the Christian community and it is not clear what form the body of Christ will take in the future. As part of the conversation, let us consider several models.


The small committed house church, similar to what Dr. Webber suggested, is certainly one model. The pastor of such a church may also supplement his or her income through some "tent making" employment. Some couples are also considering that one of them works in another profession as a legitimate way of supporting the pastoral work of their spouse This is not a new model but one that may need to be examined again.


Drawing upon the Methodist experience, we may also have pastors with several churches under their care. In Chiapas, Mexico, they have set up a whole framework of accountability where a church is responsible for several congregations who in turn are responsible for several mission stations. The pastor(s) of the churches have the additional charge of visiting the congregations and mission stations. Such ministries rely even more heavily on lay leadership to care for the congregations and mission stations in between visits of the ordained clergy.


The Presbyterians, and I'm sure others, have had success with an increased use of Certified Lay Pastors (CLP). Here they are benefiting from the skills of lay people who have had careers in other professions and now exercise their sense of call with great devotion to some of the smaller congregations. We may want to look at the collegial relationship between the seminary trained and ordained pastor and their mentor responsibilities with respect to the CLPs.

We will continue to have some of the larger churches who can employ full staffs, etc. We may want to rethink their relationship to the smaller branches of Christianity. When we speak of the one body of Christ, we may need to expand our sense of accountability to each other. In Dr. Webbers suggestion about the small house churches, he also mentioned the need for Christians to gather for festival celebrations at Cathedral like experiences.


These are just some possibilities. What are some ideas that you might have?  


A recent Fuller Institute study based on their interview of 1,000 pastors, found that 80% of the pastors interviewed believed that their ministry has had a negative impact on their families. It is significant that such a high percentage of pastors acknowledge the pressures of ministry on their families. Of course, that "negative impact" could reflect anything from dealing with the pressure living in a fish bowl to the pain of congregational demands on time available to family. Many pastors have had very satisfying and fulfilling ministries but carry some guilt about how the pressures of being a pastor affected their family. 


Most professionals recognize that the pressures of their career have an impact on their families. What makes the difference is how we respond in light of those pressures. In the ToolBox at there are several suggestions for ways that a pastor in different family configurations can engage his or her family in healthy experiences to counter the effects of these pressures. For married pastors, a major factor is the ability to appreciate each other. Here is one suggestion of a simple event that might contribute to the strength of that marriage bond.


Set aside the next honorarium from a wedding, etc., for a special night out with your spouse. Let's say you take him or her to a very nice restaurant. After placing your order, while waiting for the food, engage in the following. Both of you place your hand on the table but at some distance from the other person's hand. Each of you are asked to come up with one statement of appreciation for how your spouse strengthens your ability to handle the pressures of your life. As each person makes his or her statement, that person moves his or her hand closer to the other person. After each of you has made five statements, your hands should be touching. Now take each other's hand and have a prayer of thanks for God having brought you together.  Now enjoy the food and the evening.


In one way, it is very simple but consider the last time you expressed appreciation for each other. It is worth taking the time to do. You might even look forward to the next time the pastor received an honorarium for service that took him or her away from the family.  


Joe W. Sandifer serves as Pastor to Pastors and Coordinates an eight person Pastoral team for the Presbytery of Atlanta. Before his retirement he pastored four very different churches: a small town church, a new church development, a large suburban church, and a medium size church that relocated.  When asked about the future of the church, Joe said: "As I work with pastors is this presbytery I am impressed and inspired by the large number of excellent young pastors coming into the presbytery.  They give me great hope that as we live through the current turmoil, we have great leadership to move the church forward to where God wants us to be."


Alan N. Baroody, PPCN Treasurer, is the Executive Director of the Mary Lou Fraser Foundation for Families, Inc. (The Fraser Counseling Center) in Hinesville, GA. When asked about the challenges that face the "Future of the Church." He named two: Military and Clergy.  "Clinically, I work on a daily basis with chaplains, veterans, active duty soldiers, and military families and children as they seek to heal from the hidden wounds of war. A short statement is inadequate to communicate the extent of the emotional injuries that we see among these soldiers and their families. The Church needs to be aware that thousands of these wounded families will be sitting in their pews. The children may have attachment disorders or behavioral problems. The spouses may be emotionally disconnected from their partners. The veterans may sit in the back wearing dark glasses and avoiding crowds, if they attend at all. And fifty percent of them will be experiencing some kind of serious mental health related issue within their family system, not the least which may be PTSD, depression, and addictions. Is the Church prepared to minister to these men, women, and families who have sacrificed on our behalf? That is one challenge.


The second challenge is that of keeping clergy and their families healthy. The generalized anxiety of the greater church has spread to local congregations and is often focused on the pastor. As a representative of the denomination, the pastor is now a larger target. The boundary-related stressors of clergy life as brought forth in prior studies - isolation, mobility, time, intrusions, space, and congregational fit -- have only increased in intensity. Added to these are greater expectations to "perform" while under the threat of diminishing congregational and personal financial resources. The pastoral care of clergy and their families ranks low on the totem pole of the challenges that our denomination seeks to address, thus, we as clergy have become more "expendable" as a resource."


For more information on the care of clergy, go to the editor's blog.
Join the conversation on ways to care for clergy four to five days a week.

PPCN provides professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA).