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The Advocate Newsletter
Fall 2014

A Word to Pastor Advocates

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By Greg Twitchell

On Being Advocatus


According to WIKIPEDIA: "the term, Advocatus ecclesiae (or Advocatus Ecclesiæ), literally 'advocate of the church', is the Latin title, in the Middle Ages, of certain lay persons, generally of noble birth, whose duty it was, under given conditions, to represent a particular church or monastery, and to defend its rights against force.

These advocates were specially bound to represent their clients before the secular courts. They exercised civil jurisdiction in the domain of the church or monastery, and were bound to protect the church with arms in the event of actual assault. Finally, it was their duty to lead the men-at-arms in the name of the church or monastery, and to command them in time of war.


Charlemagne, who obliged bishops, abbots and abbesses to maintain advocati, commanded to exercise great care in the choice of persons to fill the office; they must be judicious men."


This definition for Advocate is very interesting.  The word advocate is common enough today and I assumed it had some legal connotation, but I had no idea that is has such a strong connection to the Church.  It appears that a person was needed to legally represent and physically protect the church property.  In this description, I found 4 keys that correlate to our use of the word Advocatus Pastorus today.


  1. They "represent their clients" Pastors choose whom they will from within their church body to serve as their advocates.  These men and women represent their Pastor to God and the Church leadership.  Advocating for their support, encouragement, physical and spiritual needs, and refreshment.  Hopefully these Advocates will never have to go before the secular courts, but they should go to the Elders or Church Board regularly to express concern for the well being of their Shepherd.
  2. They were "bound to protect the church".  Advocates should be concerned about the unity of the body and the progress of the gospel.  This will be best accomplished by a healthy, well loved and appreciated Pastor and Elders.  These Godly leaders cannot give anything out of an empty cup.  If they are in a good place, they will have plenty of love, teaching, and encouragement to pour into the lives of the Church Family.  One of the best ways to protect the Church is to prayerfully advocate for the Leadership.
  3. They were to "lead men-at-arms".  This is still true today, only in a different sense.  We are regularly in the midst of spiritual battle.  "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  Eph. 6:12 Who will join the Pastor on the front lines of these spiritual battles?  Who will spiritually lift up his arms when he gets tired?  Who will stand with him in prayer for his leadership and the needs of the body?  And best of all, who will rally the "men-at-arms" to join in the spiritual battle? 
  4. Finally, what I learn from this definition study is that Pastors need to "exercise great care in the choice of persons to fill the office."  Finding a Barnabas or Joshua who will stand with you is an important decision.  Finding someone who is of strong moral character, with the gift of encouragement, and who is willing to invest the time into understanding the rigors of ministry and speak up on behalf of the Pastor is a huge role to fill.  My prayer is that we will find willing and qualified people in every church who will get excited about this ministry of Advocatus Pastorus!

- Greg Twitchell



to have toward your Pastor

Matt and his wife Beth
MHolding Up Your Pastor's Arms
By Rev. Matt Larkin
Coordinator of Students and Kids Ministries
Advent Christian General Conference

Burnout... many pastors have struggled with it. Many are struggling now. And... unfortunately, many are struggling with it now and don't even know it. According to a 2010 study, 33% of pastors reported that they had felt burnout out within their first five years of ministry, 40% reported that they were currently suffering from burnout, and 33% even said that being in ministry was an outright hazard to their family.


While these statistics may vary by denomination and region of the country, they point to a difficult reality that those of us who care about pastors must face; pastors are burning out an alarming rate. There are a variety of reasons for this problem: overly heavy workloads, frantic schedules, unrealistic expectations, relational difficulties in the congregation, and even a lack of meaningful friendships. Either way, however, with all of the difficulties and new demands faced by pastors in the 21st Century, there has never been a more important time to strengthen our support for the local church pastor.


Many of you may remember the story in Exodus (chapter 17), when the Israelites went into battle, and whenever Moses's hands were raised, holding the staff of God high, the Israelites would begin to win the battle. However, when they fell, the Israelites would begin to lose. As the battle raged on, however, Moses's arms grew tired. So, Aaron and Hur came alongside of Moses and held his arms up until the day was over and the Israelites overwhelmed the enemy.


Similarly, each day, pastors hold the staff of God high for the people of their flock as they battle our spiritual enemy. And similarly, the arms of pastors all around the world grow tired. This is why pastors need advocates.  This is why they need people around them who value their time and talents, their gifts and abilities, and their commitment to God's call on their lives. Pastors need people who are willing to come and stand in the gap on their behalf. Pastors need people who look out for their interests. Ultimately, they need people who can come alongside them and hold up their arms when they grow tired.


Be one of those people for your pastor. If you love them, help them avoid the terrible fate that has carried so many pastors into depression, anger, resentment... and even away from their calling. Hold up their arms. Help carry some of the load. Stand in the way of criticism. This may help them to avoid burning out.

by Thom S. Rainer  



1.Criticize the pastor's family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.


2.Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.


3.Don't defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.


4.Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.


5.Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you've succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.


6.Make comments about the pastor's expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, "How can you afford to go to Disney World?" Wow.


7.Compare your pastor's preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.


So, if your life's goal is to hurt your pastor, one or more of these approaches will work just fine.  But, if you are like most good church members, you want the best for your pastor. So just do the opposite of these seven.



By Diana Davis



Clueless! That's how many churches feel as they contemplate how to express gratitude to their cherished leaders for Pastor Appreciation Month each October. Here are 10 suggestions to get the creative juices flowing.


1. Lots of Letters

On Sunday before Pastor Appreciation Day, distribute stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. An instruction note invites each church member to write and mail a personal note of encouragement and appreciation to the pastor during the week.


2. Award T-shirt

Special order a "Best Pastor in _______" T-shirt, cap, or plaque, and present it with flourish.


3. Original Art

Laminate bookmarks created by the children in your church, featuring their art and signatures. Allow kids to present the bookmarks to the pastor personally.


4. Church in a Frame

Prepare a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Even better: take a group photo of church members in front of the building. Use extra wide matting and ask every church member to sign the mat before adding glass.


5. Helpful Commentaries

Purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Allow various groups, such as Bible classes, committees or church organizations, to present one book of the set, individually wrapped with their personal notes of appreciation on the inside pages.


6. Video Presentation

Create a presentation of photos and video of the pastor(s) in action during the past year. Set it to music, and play it as a pre-service video.


7. Public Thanks

Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor and a declaration of your church's love and appreciation. Even better: Add every member's signature on the ad.


8. Office Makeover

Do a surprise office makeover, with the pastor's wife's input, of course. Consider fresh paint, updated décor, new furniture, and even a computer or technology upgrade.


9. Favorite Things

Think of one small thing your pastor enjoys, such as M&Ms, fishing lures, coffee, etc. Ask each member to bring that item on Sunday, i.e. one bag, any size, of M&Ms. Supply extras for guests or forgetful members.


10. 30 Days of Appreciation

Use an October calendar to schedule volunteers for a month-long schedule of surprise treats. Each day of the month, the pastor will receive a surprise token of appreciation from a church member, committee or group within the church. The tributes can vary widely. Some ideas include: a balloon delivery, a shoe shine, an apple pie, or a gift certificate. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated?


And won't God be honored by your acts of love for His servant? Don't forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister's spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.


Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.

"A Pastor never gets to say "I'm off duty".  Never gets to punch out at 5.  Never gets to have a normal schedule.  We don't know how many sleepless nights they spend on their knees praying for their church.  How much opposition they face.  How many family opportunities they miss to meet with hurting people.  We can't carry their burden for them but we can do what the Bible tells us to:  Pray for them.  Encourage them.  Support them.  By blessing them we will only be blessed in return."                                                                                        - Author unknown

Recommended Reading

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

The Measure of our Success
By Shawn Lovejoy

A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors
By Rev. Dr. David C. Alves

Recommended Resources


RE-Creation Ministries

Colorado - Tennessee - New York


SonScape provides an eight-day retreat for Christian leadership that provides rest and renewal as well as training on spiritual formation and the holy rhythm of life (balance in work, worship , rest, and play).  Retreats at SonScape have no more than five couples/singles in attendance to ensure that everyone receives personalized attention.  

Several AC Pastors have benefited from a retreat with SonScape.  

The Advocate Newsletter is published as a ministry of the Eastern Regional Association of the Advent Christian General Conference.


Gregory Twitchell, Superintendent,

Carolyn Schaeffner, Administrative Secretary, 


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